By Samuel Wahome
Abraham Lincoln once said that the tree of liberty is watered by blood. This couldn’t be truer in the Kenyan context. Its common knowledge that in all the “accomplished” democracies of the world, the current enjoyment of rights was preceded by an immense struggle for the same. Since the post-colonial and pre-colonial period when Kenyans united for a common cause, the price paid for liberty has been high. But the gains made have been well worth it.
Nevertheless, weaving through history in the murky waters of the early political regime, it is evident that the rights Kenyans fought so hard to gain have not been fully realised. This has led to a renewed struggle for “liberty” which would, inter alia, guarantee unrestrained rights to democratic action through voting, freedom of speech, picketing and assembly and, most importantly, the right to life, and for it not to be taken arbitrarily by state actors or private citizens.
To have codified all these fundamental and basic interests of a citizen under the bill of rights, in the Constitution of Kenya would be properly stated to have been a major milestone to those familiar with the country’s dark past.
However, a dangerous trend of anarchy and impunity has been glaring its head over the years, being the unjustified and extrajudicial killings of Kenyans.
As a lawyer fully aware of the rules of evidence, and only dealing with the facts at hand, I would not attempt to speculate on the variety of cases that have been a matter of public domain; still, common sense prevails in many of these situations.
The recent murder of Willy Kimani, along with his client and taxi driver, was a horrific reminder that impunity still runs deep in Kenya. The fact that investigations were hesitatingly and half-heartedly done – and where swift action would quite possibly have averted this situation and saved lives – is a bitter pill to swallow for all who shed blood so that Kenyans could enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms.
The fact that Willy, like many others, put other people’s interests before his own in helping the weak, vulnerable and indefensible access justice is the embodiment of the Kenyan spirit. It would thus be unfortunate if the well minded, forty million-plus Kenyans, sat back and allowed the unpleasant and distasteful trend to continue without speaking out.
The bottom line is that there should be more commitment on the part of the government to ensure that such an unsavoury state of affairs does not continue. With a heavy heart, I realise that despite the reassurances by the Inspector-General of Police that “investigations” were/are being carried out, many continue to believe that the police are only hoodwinking the public, and have no desire to deliver justice.
Lastly, Kenyans should realise that just as the fight for independence from the colonialists could not be fought by a few, a few individuals cannot fight the fight against impunity. Citizens should not shy from advocating for the rights of others. After all, when the dust settles, all we have is each other.