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Divisive rhetoric hurting the cause for a positive Kenyan Diaspora agenda

April 27 2012 at 11:00 PM
Written by Regina Njogu 

Friday, 27 April 2012 08:14

Divisive rhetoric hurting the cause for a positive Kenyan Diaspora agenda

Written by  Regina Njogu
Divisive rhetoric hurting the cause for a positive Kenyan Diaspora agenda

I beg to differ with Isaac Kinitys observations articulated in his article titled No war in Kenyan Diaspora which appeared on this space on April 24th, 2012. I am a strong proponent of cohesion within the Kenya Diaspora community, and more specifically among the Kenyan Diaspora in the US. It is from this perspective that I pen this opinion.

To elucidate,  according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are about six hundred (600) Kenya Diaspora organizations in the US alone that are coalesced around  various private and public interests, some duplicative. These organizations include churches, NGOs, tribal groupings, and etcetera. Many will agree that there is no justification whatsoever for such proliferation.

In fact, failure by the Diaspora to speak in one voice has ended up hurting the Diaspora agenda instead of helping it. Our fragmentation is in deed counter intuitive. This is because if Diaspora Kenyans spoke with one voice, we stand a better chance of getting Diaspora concerns heard and taken into account.

The current proliferation of Diaspora organizations is untenable and cannot be justified as it only serves to ensure that the Diaspora agenda is not being pushed effectively. We have so many Kenya Diaspora organizations all claiming to represent the entire Kenyan Diaspora sending their own and mixed messages to the embassy and to Nairobi, that in fact, many in government do not know which group is which and which truly speaks for the Diaspora.

Some of these organizations have hyped themselves, organized conferences and invited government dignitaries to their conferences just for the dignitaries to get here and realize that the organizations are not truly representative. At this time when important decisions affecting the Diaspora are going to be made, such as on the issue of taxation of dual citizens, it is even more imperative that Diaspora Kenyans speak with one voice.

In a nutshell, this is what H.E. Ambassador Elkannah Odembo has been saying all along. So when Mr. Kinity complains that H.E. Ambassador Elkannah Odembo refuses to meet with some Kenyan groups that have sought audience with him, and then conveniently fails to disclose the real rationale behind the ambassadors refusal, he comes across as disingenuous.

I have, like many others listened and understood the rationale behind his refusal and I am afraid that the ambassador is right on this one. First, if a group is a private interest group, he is not obligated to meet with its leaders.  If the ambassador was to take time to meet leaders of each Kenyan Diaspora private interest group in the US, and meets one group everyday, it would take him every working day of a year and a half to meet all of them.

And because these groups have varying interests and motives, he would also be trying to reconcile their interests to the larger Kenyan Diaspora interest. When the ambassador insists that he will not meet tribal groupings, he should be lauded and not vilified for it. I do not see anything disagreeable about discouraging tribal groupings. In deed, no Kenyan should entertain such groupings if we are to move forward in a genuinely cohesive fashion.

But like is typical of most of us we must read mischief into everything, and so we vilify our ambassador for calling for unity. The insinuation that ambassador Odembo frequents Tallahassee because he goes to visit a particular ethnic group is in bad taste and a flat out lie.  In fact, the ambassador has visited Boston more times than he has visited any other US City including Tallahassee. Mr. Kinity very conveniently omitted mentioning that fact so as to negatively portray the ambassador.

While Mr. Kinity makes a valid argument that immigration and settling patterns of Kenyans in the US, have through no ones fault proceeded along tribal lines, it is still not an excuse to have a delegation to the embassy from one state comprised of 90 percent people from one ethnic group. In each state in the US, you will find people from at least no less than three Kenyan communities.

However small the presence of some communities in some states is, the composition of each delegation should reflect composition in proportion to the numbers of each community in the state, at the very least. In addition, any group seeking recognition should also be representative in terms of religion, gender and age. Unfortunately, the current constitution of a majority of Kenyan organizations in the US indicates that we in the Diaspora have miserably failed at cohesion.

In this regard, there is a rudimentary maxim of social foundations of law that stipulates that when people refuse to follow norms of acceptable social behavior, a function of the law is to force them to do so. While I do not recommend a measure as drastic as a law to force cohesion among Kenyans in the Diaspora, I believe that the government of Kenya through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Kenya embassies and consulates abroad should make it a government policy to work only with organizations that pass the test of being truly representative.

For any leader to deserve recognition as a Kenya Diaspora leader, he or she must be a true leader, with a verifiable track record of reaching out to other Kenyans in the Diaspora that are not members of his ethnic group, religion, gender, or age group. May be then, we in the Diaspora will be forced to clean up our act and work together.

Moreover, I take issue with any so called Diaspora organization that sidelines any segment of Kenyans in the Diaspora that it claims to represent. A case in point is the recent Kenyan Diaspora Development Network which recently held a conference in Boston MA. This group was formed because its founders disagreed with some aspects of the very successful Kenya Diaspora Conference of October 2011 spearheaded by the Kenya Embassy in Washington D.C.

The organization started off by sidelining and bashing the Kenya embassy and all those who had something to do with it, while at the same time trashing other Kenya Diaspora organizations such as the Kenya Diaspora Advisory Council of N.E region. In a last minute disingenuous and desperate move, its officials invited Kenya embassy officials and those who work with it just to fill in the chairs at its conference, after it realized that turn out at its conference was going to be low.

The reason why I, and perhaps many other US Diaspora Kenyans did not attend the KDDN conference is because there is a widespread belief among Kenyans that another Kenyan Diaspora organization is not the answer to Diaspora concerns. If Mr. Kinity, one of the key players in KDDN is genuine about pursuing a Diaspora agenda, he should like all other peace-loving and reasonable Kenyans spend his time contributing positively to shaping issues affecting the Kenyan Diaspora.

In this regard, Nairobi formulated a draft policy on the Diaspora touching on matters of great concern to the Kenyan Diaspora. What H.E. Ambassador Odembo did was to advocate so that Diaspora Kenyans get  to have a say in determining the contents of the policy. All Kenyans have been invited to read the draft policy at www.kenyaembassy.com and comment. This is a great chance for us in the Diaspora to make our voices heard because speaking through 600 mouthpieces will not do it!

Coming to the issue of whether or not there is war among Kenyans in the Diaspora and the need for the peace accord launched by H.E. Ambassador Odembo, Mr. Kinitys thinking is too simplistic. He fails to acknowledge that peace does not only mean the absence of war.

Peace also means the state of living in friendship, harmony, tranquility and coexisting in a state or relationship of non-belligerence or concord. Against the backdrop of 2007/2008 PEV in Kenya, it is apparent that while for a long time it was thought that ethnic groups in Kenya were living peacefully with each other, there was underlying discord and disharmony.

This is the reason why when emotions were fanned by politicians, an all out war erupted among certain communities or against certain communities. All H.E. Odembo is asking is for Diaspora Kenyans to maintain harmony and refuse to be wrung into controversies that could lead to a repeat of 2007/2008 PEV. I fail to see anything reprehensible about what the ambassador is calling for.

As far as I can remember, Kenyan leaders have always gone around the country asking people to live in peace. They do not do this because Kenyans are at war but rather to encourage people to continue living in peace. No one should be bashed for preaching peace unless there is a sinister agenda at play.

Lastly, on the issue of Hon. Onyonka not being received at Logan, I must say that neither I nor Mr. Kinity is competent to cast aspersions either way. We are neither privy to any communications between the embassy and Mr. Onyonka beforehand nor to the internal protocol within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding visits by Kenyan officials to the US.

The ambassador does not have to explain to Mr. Kinity and his ilk anything concerning this matter. Moreover, Hon. Onyonka is not complaining and if he is, he would not channel his complaint through the media his decorum would not allow it!.  Furthermore, the last time I checked, Mr. Kinity was not his spokesman. If he is, he should have stated that he was speaking in that capacity!.

And for those who have their claws out ready to pounce, I am not an ODM, PNU, WIPER, NARC, KANU, FORD or what have you operative. I am simply a peace loving Kenyan advocating sanity in this galore of renegade Kenyan Diaspora groupings that have become a hindrance to a positive Kenyan Diaspora agenda.

Regina Njogu, Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at law
Burtonsville, MD 20866

Related story- No war in the Diaspora.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of the writers and should not be taken as the views of Diaspora Messenger

 




 
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AuthorReply

Re: Divisive rhetoric hurting the cause for a positive Kenyan Diaspora agenda

April 28 2012, 1:40 AM 

Kenya Diaspora Summit is being bashed by Regina Njogu here. What is wrong with one other meeting with our leaders in a vast country as the USA? If you have an issue with one of the guest to the Summit, address that. The rest is not necessary and uncalled for. People came, enjoyed the Summit and the Launching of New England's Kenyan Welfare Association that was attended by Worcester Mayor and Governor and of course the Summit Keynote Speakers namely Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Onyonka and the IEBC Vice Chair Lillian Mahiri. You are talking of divisiveness but after reading your article, I am wondering why the hate? I smell double standards or not being able to face the fact that raia in the Diaspora pulled off a Summit with no sponsors and support from the Embassy and had a free event as compared to the DC 2011 Diaspora meeting that the same Regina Njogu organized and with heavy weight sponsors, they charged Kenyans $75 dollar! Let it go. We are all doing the best for the Diaspora. It is not easy to unite in the Diaspora, but bashing someone for trying is what is hurting us.

As the organizer of the Summit, I have in my hands the reply from the Ambassador from the invite to the Summit dated 31st January, 2012 stating that he would not attend the Summit on April 14th due to prior arrangements. The person at the Diaspora desk also said she would not attend. End March, the office of the Asst. Minister of Foreign Affairs asked me to notify the Embassy that the Minister would be coming.I did precisely that and the only reply I got was from the Secretary stating that they had received the notice, but the Ambassador had not read it. I am concerned about Regina Njogu's motive or who she is representing. Why is she after us and lying? She writes that were begging for Embassy people to attend the Summit in Boston on the morning of the Summit to fill in the seats. The Kenyan Embassy is in DC...miles away and no one working on a Saturday!

Kenyan's in Diaspora, please read the Summit Report and join us as we continue the fight to vote and other issues.

Kenya Diaspora Summit Report.

www.kenyadiasporadev.org got to Summit Report.

Comfort Munoru Mwangi
Chair-Kenya Diaspora Development Collaborative and CEO of KPV Radio.

.www.kenyaprogressivevoice.org
KPV Radio Voice of Reason
Saturday at 5pm Eastern .
Feel free to listen to paste shows too.

 
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Wakariro

Re: Divisive rhetoric hurting the cause for a positive Kenyan Diaspora agenda

April 28 2012, 7:31 AM 

Now thats a legal mind and not the rumblings of a perennial failure called Isaaac Newton Kiniti!

The man messed the Kenya Civil Servants Union to a point where Moi had to ban it. He is continuing with his bad old habbits!


 
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Njenga

Re: Divisive rhetoric hurting the cause for a positive Kenyan Diaspora agenda

April 28 2012, 10:58 AM 

Thumb up, 5 more of your kind mode of thinking and diasporian communities will be a dream organisation where every persom will like to be part of it.

Well written aticle

 
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Malachi Kariuki

Re: Divisive rhetoric hurting the cause for a positive Kenyan Diaspora agenda

April 28 2012, 11:05 AM 


For a long time now, I have had a high respect for Attorney Regina Njogu for her outspokenness, especially when she is defending or speaking for the Diaspora in the United States. But going through her article several times, I must say that I read mischief in it. At one point, she has claimed that Ambassador Elkannah Odembo has "visited Boston more times than he has visited any other US City including Tellahassee".

Now my questions are these:

How does she know this?
Does she keep the Ambassador's calendar?
Has she transferred/relocated her law office to the Kenyan Embassy in Washington, D.C.?
And my last question to you, Regina if you can hear me, is this: Has Ambassador Elkannah Odembo rented out your mouth or what?

Please tell the Kenyans the whole truth.

 
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Regina Njogu

ITS JUST MY OPINION

April 28 2012, 5:45 PM 

Just to clarify, I represent no one on this matter but my own opinion.My motive is to contribute positively towards a robust and cohesive Diaspora community.

Comfort Mwangi, I have nothing against you personally. I do not know you and you do not know me.- Take my piece for what it is - an opinion. Not everyone will agree with me and thats alright. Lets agree to disagree without getting disagreable.


Malachi Mwangi, because my office is based in the Washingon DC area, I happen to work closely with the Kenya embassy and I do not think that this is out of order. I have never approached the Kenyan Diaspora status as a question of them versus us, that is us versus the embassy or the government.Believe me, where it is my opinion that the embassy is wrong, I voice my opinion as well.For instance, I have opposed the use of ambassadors and consul generals as presiding officers in Diaspora elections and will continue to do so. So Malachi, I am disheartened that you would change your opinion of me just because I expressed a certain opinion that perhaps many may not agree with.

My approach is based on the finding that we can get alot done by consultations than by confrontation. For instance, regarding the Dual Citizenship issue which I am passionate about, I have consulted with the Task Force on Citizenship, Immigration and related provisions and been assured that provisions that negatively affect the Diaspora such as the Ksh 5 million fine for failure to report foreign citizenship will be ammended. I am also in the process of getting a statement of the law from the Constitution Implementation Committee on all matters affecting the Diaspora such as taxation of dual citizens and right of Diaspora Kenyans to vie for public office. To do this I do not confront, I consult but at the same time firmly and decisively pushing for positive change.


 
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As a Lawyer you know what consitutes defamation even in the name of opinion!

April 29 2012, 7:34 PM 

You say I do not know you and I do not know you. Yet you dedicated 3 paragraphs to bash our Organization. This is very divisive way of talking or suggesting that the USA Diaspora should be satisfied with an annual Diaspora meeting in DC run by the Embassy or just recognize one organization selected by the Embassy to represent Diaspora view. USA is huge and I do not see what is wrong if we can engage our leaders and begin conversation or push for agendas when we have the time. Please visit our radio website: www.kenyaprogressivevoice.org and just listen to conversations on real issues affecting the Diaspora. We plan on having the Vice Chair of the Constitution Implementation group next week and you can join the panel as we engage them so you do not have to wait for a statement on behalf of the Diaspora. Read our Summit report and see the good that came out of it and you will probably see the light. www.kenyadiasporadev.org

THIS IS WHAT YOU WROTE hiding behind an opinion. My question is your motive, so do not just dismiss it as an opnion that you intended for all to read. We do not all publish what we think based on others opinions/view because you do not know me and were not at the Summit. We the organizers were from Florida, New Mexico and Canada and chose Boston so that Kenyans from Canada could drive and it being a place with a high Kenyan population. We are not the Kinity Group, he was a guest..so many false things that you have thrown out there. Why? There are 600 Diaspora Organizations according to you..why did you dedicated 3 paragraphs of your opinion to bash Kenya Diaspora Development Collaborative?

"Moreover, I take issue with any so called Diaspora organization that sidelines any segment of Kenyans in the Diaspora that it claims to represent. A case in point is the recent Kenyan Diaspora Development Network which recently held a conference in Boston MA. This group was formed because its founders disagreed with some aspects of the very successful Kenya Diaspora Conference of October 2011 spearheaded by the Kenya Embassy in Washington D.C.

The organization started off by sidelining and bashing the Kenya embassy and all those who had something to do with it, while at the same time trashing other Kenya Diaspora organizations such as the Kenya Diaspora Advisory Council of N.E region. In a last minute disingenuous and desperate move, its officials invited Kenya embassy officials and those who work with it just to fill in the chairs at its conference, after it realized that turn out at its conference was going to be low.

The reason why I, and perhaps many other US Diaspora Kenyans did not attend the KDDN conference is because there is a widespread belief among Kenyans that another Kenyan Diaspora organization is not the answer to Diaspora concerns. If Mr. Kinity, one of the key players in KDDN is genuine about pursuing a Diaspora agenda, he should like all other peace-loving and reasonable Kenyans spend his time contributing positively to shaping issues affecting the Kenyan Diaspora."

 
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Anonymous Coward

Re: Divisive rhetoric hurting the cause for a positive Kenyan Diaspora agenda

April 28 2012, 1:21 PM 

Kamatusas and Gema are more pronounced in diaspora than in Kenya - particularly Gema groups are very resistant to other tribes in UK. So the thing Kenya diaspora is a pipe dream - unless Kenya diaspora = Kikuyu diaspora.

Other tribal groupings are not strong as Kikuyu groups, and people of other ethnic do not demonstrated tribal exclusion of others as the Kikuyu do. I know the backlash I will receive from my comments but every one in diaspora knows this is the truth. Any move to organise Kenyans abroad will only benefit those strong groups and deplete thetax payer.

 
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Anonymous Coward

Re: Divisive rhetoric hurting the cause for a positive Kenyan Diaspora agenda

April 28 2012, 1:25 PM 

Any Government official listening to this these diaspora groupings should find beneficial work to do instead of wasting money on matters that are not useful to the Nation. We do not need diaspora representation but re-definition of the functions of Kenyan Missions abroad.

 
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Anonymous Coward

Re: Divisive rhetoric hurting the cause for a positive Kenyan Diaspora agenda

April 28 2012, 2:37 PM 

Regina, We do not read mischief in everything but analyse to make conclusions - conclusions which may be diffferent fromm each others but who makes judgement if yours or mine are valid?

 
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Njoroge

Re: Divisive rhetoric hurting the cause for a positive Kenyan Diaspora agenda

April 28 2012, 5:23 PM 

This is what i call "Think Tank". I have complained all along about these tribal groupings. Regina you're 100% right. Ambassador Odembo is simply doing us Diasporaan right by refusing to meet tribal chiefs and self appointed leaders. I live in Boston and we have several of these groups mushrooming every day.Odembo has visited Boston for soo many times but only meets with the Ambasaadors council which is the right thing to do. I even thought that the Kenyan Embassy was in Boston. The council was not elected by Kenyans but was appointed by Mr Odembo for obvious raesons. He had to start somewhere and entrench himself. The council is the only organization that is near representative of the Kenyan diaspora. We have several other organizations in Boston that claims to be representing Kenyans. They are just tribal outfits whose aim is to divide Kenyans. They end up been disolvent . Ask Ikanyi, Saroni, Jomo, Kagotho and the rest of tribal demagogues. They have all disappeared in oblivion becuase they never meant well. Most thought that they will use this as a stepping stone to be appointed DO,DC's in Muranga and Kiambu.
I dont know Mr. Kinity but from his writing i can state categorically that he belongs to the same gruop as stated above. Mr Odembo has a right to visit his cousins in Talahasee or Luo friends. He has his private moments too and we can not malign him for exercising his right. Look at the bigger picture here. We Kikuyus are our worst enemy and somehow support Ntimama when he said we need to come down from our high horse attitude and lie flat like an envelope. We should have learned from this statement and agree to work with other people to advance them and integrate. Talking in our mother tongue everywhere we go is not right. Kenyans need to come together and develop all forms of societal facets.
Regina, your are right to the point and we need more of you.

 
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Anonymous Coward

Re: Divisive rhetoric hurting the cause for a positive Kenyan Diaspora agenda

April 28 2012, 11:59 PM 

@ Regina
You did not elaborate what you were checking when you found out Kinity
was not the spokeman for onyonka? Yourself are you the spokeman if I may ask? or what is your agenda? or what are you up to?.

 
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loitad

diaspora

April 29 2012, 2:08 PM 

...in london it was KMDJ that collected money from kenyans to give letters to support asylum application. now there is no credible person who can stand to be counted as a rep of the uk diaspora/kenyan citizens. diaspora diaspora, this nonsense need to end. who said diaspora need to be represented? like the judges, we need to vet this so called leaders. many did alot before they fled kenya, their track records is unknown. 90% will never return to kenya just build houses that they will never live in or constructions that will result in eternal dispute when they die. Now, what we need is the true meaning of diaspora in other words who is a kenyan citizen and in particular the children born in the diaspora, what are their rights and where are they headed when we die or become pensioners in the west? who can answer this question. i was speaking to someone asking then to attend a diaspora meeting inlondon and they declined reason, i could not define diaspora to her.this issue for one minute made me think hard. true true , heaven is nearer than kenya and if i depart before i return to my investments will my children be classed and treated as a kenyan citizens or as a diaspora? we worry so much about politicians and forget about our personal lives, that which matter to you behind closed doors. arise my dear kenyas, think about your personal life, moi came and left, kibaki is about to go, organisations and leaders in the diaspora have come and gone but the truth of the matter is, our children are here to stay and if we are not careful, they will live to struggle, with no identity. a citizen is a citizen irrespective of where they are based. am a kikuyu even if i live in kisumu, my tax code should not change because i have moved counties and so is he luo, they will not stop being luo because they live in kiambu hence taxed more.

if we agree to be classified as diaspora and not kenyans, we become kenyas cash cow, opening a loop hole to be taxed more only because we dont live in kenya but west. however those who walk to work in tanzania, sudan or rwanda as they dont operate in dollars or pounds, they can keep their shillings as they are not diaspora. we need an open forum that which our children aged from 10 years should contribute their views as they are the future.

 
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Surprised

April 29 2012, 2:10 PM 

Hi Regina,

I am surprised with your issues as you have posted above since there is a very wise saying which says that mosses could not control his people despite removing them from captivity....

I or you or anybody for that matter cannot really control people actions it is actually better for you to detach from issues like these since people are like that and it is not in your control so why stress yourself... sweetheart.

I love you

I am based in London

God Bless

 
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