When a State Devours its Children

I have followed the otherwise diabolical incident at Langa’ta primary school, where the Kenyan state instead of providing security for its children, reneged on that important part of the social contract and turned predator, devoured its children without mercy. That reminded me of Grace Ogot’s Tekayo, and the grandfather who ate his grandchildren. The police teargasing children who were protesting the grabbing of their school land by a private developer who allegedly stokes fire in the corridors of power in this country is another shame on our national pride. Never mind that tear gas is bad enough for adults let alone lovely kiddy angels. The developer who allegedly also owns the controversial Weston Hotel along Langa’ta road which was the hive of land that used to belong to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.

Whereas cases of public land grab have been with us Kenyans for millennia, this particular case is special in a very special kind of way. The Deputy Vice President William Ruto is said to own the controversial hotel in question through an insidious network of cronies, the most notable one of them being a Mr. Patrick Oseyo. The Vice President on his part has not spared any effort in distancing himself with the hotel and by inference the land grab, never mind the naming of the Singh Amrit brothers as the owners of the grabbed land by the lands minister. Although Deputy President’s Ruto’s proclivity for all things land have been documented in the past.

At the height of the post-election violence after the 2007 elections, Mr. Ruto is said to have grabbed 100 Acres of land from elderly farmer Andrew Muteshi, 70. The court subsequently ordered Ruto to return the land together with five million shillings in restitution charges to Mr. Muteshi.

I digress though, this piece was never meant to highlight the conspiracies of who owns or does not own Weston Hotel, because this in most a Kenyan’s mind is as clear as morning dew. This piece attempts to deal with the aftermath of the Teargas-Gate scandal. Where police reminded us about their banal irresponsibility by teargasing school children some no older than 8 years. Then we had the feeble attempts by the government’s social media mercenaries led by Dennis Itumbi, to shift the blame from the land grabbers and police to the organizers of the protest. They put it that school children should not be used for protest under whatever circumstances. Well they forgot to tell us the particular caveats where private developers are not allowed to grab land in whatever circumstances.

This group of people, the mercenaries that are used to sanctify unhallowed impunity are the object of this article. We all know that schools are important agents of political socialization. In other words just as we teach our children in school to be patriotic, about Kenya’s history and Kenya’s governance structure should be the same way we teach our children to stand for their rights, to claim the freedoms in the face of state failure, to challenge unvirtuous authority.

Because in this instance the Kenyan state violated the rights and freedoms of our children and thence   lost its legitimacy, first by failing to protect the Langa’ta Primary School’s property rights and secondly by teargasing the children who were standing up for their property rights which is all too puzzling since Langa’ta primary school is a public school.

Hence the question becomes if the state cannot protect its property, how will it protect yours?

Alex Njeru wrote in from Nairobi, Kenya