How digital capitalism, despite often being framed as potential growth engine, exploits the already marginalized and reproduces inequalities and power-relations between Africans.
Digital technologies enable new ways of organizing the production of services, unconstrained by spatial distances. By making it possible to carry out a service from everywhere in the world, digitalization has facilitated the increased fragmentation and outsourcing of services that were previously constrained by the need for geographic proximity between buyer and seller. The digitalization of the economy is at the same time giving rise to new forms of work and new ways of organizing labor processes—across the globe.
In The Digital Continent: Placing Africa in Planetary Networks of Work, Mohammed Amir Anwar and Mark Graham explore the development and organization of digital labor—defined as “work activities involving the paid manipulation of digital data by humans through [information and communication technologies] such as mobile phones, computers, laptops, etc.”—in Africa. They argue that African workers are playing an increasingly central role in digital capitalism by training “artificial intelligence” and machine learning algorithms, tagging images, and performing customer services, design tasks, data management, and so on. Thus, Anwar and Graham argue that digital capitalism is—despite rarely being mentioned—increasingly “made in Africa.” The aim of their book is to make both African workers and Africa as a core location in the digital economy visible.
Based on extensive fieldwork in five countries—Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda—Anwar and Graham first argue that digitalization has made African countries lucrative destinations for offshoring services. They explore two such cases: “business process offshoring,” where a firm outsources non-core functions to specialized subcontractors, and the “remote gig economy,” composed of service tasks (such as writing, transcription, search engine optimization, and so on) mediated and coordinated by digital platforms and carried out by individual workers for customers who can be located anywhere. Second, they show how the African labor force is increasingly drawn into the digital economy, as workers who struggle to find employment in the “analog” sector of the economy turn to digital labor to make a living. This, Anwar and Graham argue, raises concerns for employment protections, social rights, and working conditions on digital platforms.
Anwar and Graham intervene in a prominent narrative promoted by governments, the World Bank, development organizations, and consulting firms that frames digitalization and information and communication technologies as “technological fixes” that will create jobs, reduce poverty, improve productivity, and lead to economic growth in Africa. Although digitalization and the fragmentation and outsourcing of production processes has integrated Africa into global production networks, Anwar and Graham argue that “Africa continues to be locked into a value-extractive position in the global economy.” Rather than a frictionless and “flat” global economy, Anwar and Graham’s analyses show how digitalization amplifies existing inequalities and power relations; in Africa, digital production is primarily characterized by poorly remunerated tasks at the bottom of the value chain that do not, in practice, represent economic improvements for workers.
For some segments of the population, such as university-educated workers unable to capitalize on their credentials, the digital economy provides an important lifeline. On the one hand, these forms of work provide a certain flexibility and autonomy. Workers are often able to, at least partially, set their own schedules. On the other hand, however, digital labor can also contribute to precarity, as contracts are usually short, working hours long, and social benefits and labor rights irregular or lacking. This is, Anwar and Graham argue, partially a result of workers being classified as self-employed independent contractors, the piece-rate model of compensation, and the ease with which digital firms can transfer tasks to another worker, company, or continent.
In addition, Anwar and Graham highlight the so-called “algorithmic management” used in these digital business models. Digitalization, they argue, is not only a tool for capital’s expansion into new localities, markets, and industries—digital technologies also enable managers to exert new forms of control over workers and labor processes. The authors term this form of management “digital Taylorism,” a digital manifestation of the Taylorist principles of detailed surveillance, meticulous control over labor process, disassembly of the production process, and “deskilling” every task to improve productivity and lower the costs of labor power. While the notion of “digital Taylorism” highlights platform capital’s control over workers and labor processes, it might neglect a key feature of “algorithmic management”: its strategic use of freedom and flexibility. While Taylor’s “scientific management” instructed workers on how each particular task should be performed, digital platforms usually allow workers to choose when they want to work, what tasks they want to do, and how they want to do them—partially in an effort to avoid being classified as their employers. Moreover, worker evaluation occurs through rating systems, with workers being sanctioned with moves like “deactivation” or firing if their average rating falls below a certain threshold. Thus, “algorithmic management” might be seen as representing a mode of management and control diverging from the core principles of Taylorism.
Furthermore, it is important to emphasize the ways in which workers assert agency and resist capital’s control, as Anwar and Graham do in detail. Drawing on the notion of “hidden transcripts,” they theorize labor agency not solely in organized and collective action, finding that digital workers in Africa exert individual agency through everyday practices and strategies of “resilience, reworking, and resistance.”
The Digital Continent is a very well-researched and well-written book. Anwar and Graham build on an impressively rich empirical material, mixing statistics and excerpts from interviews to give readers a proper understanding of workers’ lives, struggles, and aspirations. The presentation jumps eloquently between theoretical discussions, explications of labor geography concepts, and empirical investigations, producing thorough and thought-provoking analyses. This is particularly true for the final chapter, where the authors discuss measures for building a fairer global economy and world of work.
As a researcher studying platform work in the Norwegian transportation industry, the similarities between the working conditions, biographies, and experiences of the workers I interview in Oslo and the workers I met in The Digital Continent is striking. They are drawn from similar segments of the labor force and express the same ambivalence toward the real economic opportunities—combined with precarious working conditions—offered by the digital business models. Despite the field’s recent emphasis on how digital business models are being “embedded” in local social, political, and economic contexts, these models seem to create surprisingly similar outcomes in very different parts of the world. This puzzle might suggest that although digital labor platforms have to adjust to local conditions, regulations, and so on, they also function as technological and global capitalist machines, exporting the same employment model and “algorithmic management” from Silicon Valley (where they are usually designed) to every corner of the world, creating similar outcomes for workers regardless of their different contexts while also taking advantage of local specificities. This highlights Anwar and Graham’s conclusion that the fight for a fair digital economy has to be global.
This post is from a partnership between Africa Is a Country and The Elephant. We will be publishing a series of posts from their site once a week.
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Sigurd M. N. Oppegaard is a Doctoral Researcher Fellow in the Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo and Researcher, Fafo Institute for Social and Labour Research.
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Kenyans are going into an election believing in nothing, standing for nothing. The leading political formations are born of each other, the result of many profound compromises, and this in part explains the blankness.
It would seem that Kenya is going into an election this August that’s largely about nothing. No big idea, no galvanising issue. This hasn’t happened since the reintroduction of political pluralism in late 1991 and the elections that followed in 1992. That said, there are those who will be voting against either William S. Ruto or Raila A. Odinga come August. This group is committed and energised. It is seized by the election. Ironically, in the 2007 election Raila Odinga was the bogeyman of Kenyan politics – the man to fear, the master of chaos, etc. Today the very people who spewed that narrative are in wild reverse and the deputy president is the new bad guy in town. Unfortunately for him, Ruto has in the past seemed to embrace and project his darker side, to revel in the fear he engenders. As a bogeyman to the middle class, he has proven to be a good fit. That so many of his foes have met an untimely end adds to this dark myth.
Since 1992, and in 1997 and 2002 in particular, our elections have not lacked what some like to call “the vision thing”. We were voting against Moi’s authoritarianism and the one-party state, yes, but we were also voting for political pluralism, a new constitution and devolution. We were voting for good governance, anti-corruption, human rights, transparency and all those other nice woolly things that have created the open society we enjoy today. In the meantime, a host of new governance arrangements have come into being. In 2013, Uhuru Kenyatta and William S. Ruto sought the vote under a new constitution promulgated in 2010 and went to the polls under the heavy cloud of the International Criminal Court (ICC) indictments. The “dynamic duo” promised to spend money, to spend on everything for everyone. They did the same in 2017 – no big idea, just spending – but this time round, the 2017 election failed dramatically after the Supreme Court annulled it, leading to a legitimacy deficit for the Jubilee government.
Prior to these two polls, there were clearly articulated political forces forged by Moi arrayed against the grand issues of the day and those who defined themselves for them – a mixture of the political opposition, media, civil society, the religious sector, etc. In 2022 this clarity is gone – emphatically so! The latter are in disarray while the former are resurgent.
As we head into the August polls what is striking is that, beyond the avowedly populist but ultimately hollow “hustler” narrative, there is as yet no other game in town in the contest of political ideas. There is no other big narrative. More importantly, there is no other compelling hopeful narrative. The chattering classes are appalled that so vacuous a narrative as the “hustler” and the “wheelbarrow” has gained enough traction with a wide section of, in particular, the youthful population. Indeed, for the first time in Kenya’s history, the sitting head of state apparently doesn’t command the electoral numbers in his own political backyard as a result of this trend. This could yet change but it has never been like this so late in the day. In the dark days of KANU, these inconveniences were fixed by simply rigging the polls. This habit has of course continued since the rigged polls of 2007.
The truth is that we are going into an election believing in nothing, standing for nothing. At best, we are searching. All the leading political formations are born of each other and birthed by many profound compromises, and this in part explains the blankness. At a slightly lower political level, those consumed by making money off the state, cutting deals, winning contracts and fiddling tenders can barely contain their excitement as August approaches and new snouts can dip into the trough.
Kenyans love their politics. They obsess about it. Or rather they used to.
An entire generation below 35 years of age has grown up that finds watching our political leaders on the seven o’clock news boring and, some even argue, detrimental to mental health. They catch the outrageous highlights on Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram. The thundering statements of ministers, the head of state and his deputy have been reduced to fleeting minutes of entertainment to be taken as seriously as a Nollywood thriller.
This transformation is not too much unlike others we are witnessing around the world as younger citizens lose faith in their leaders and institutions. Still, I was struck that, with 150 or so days to the next election, our major political formations have split into two behemoths – Azimio, led by Raila Odinga and President Kenyatta, and UDA, led by Deputy President Ruto. Despite this, polls show the number of undecideds and those refusing to respond regarding whom they’ll vote for in August hovering around 30 per cent. Experts I spoke to this week also find this figure curious. Despite the giant political split, that a third of voters remain ambivalent should, on the face of it, be sufficiently polarising to seize the minds of most Kenyans.
Before the landmark election of 2002, about four months to the polls, the number of undecideds was under 10 per cent. In 2013, five months before the polls, the undecideds were around 3 per cent. Days before the 2017 polls, the undecideds and those who said they were not sure who they would vote for were at 8 per cent. The question is: Why does the number of undecideds remain high even though we effectively have a two-horse race going into the August 2022 poll? When I asked experts, they responded that a little probing by pollsters yielded responses from undecideds such as “We’re waiting for their manifestos”, “We’re waiting to learn more about their policies”, etc. Clearly, neither Azimio nor UDA has caught the imagination of the vast majority of Kenyans, allowing them making a clear decision. Either that or they don’t want to share their true views.
Why does the number of undecideds remain high even though we effectively have a two-horse race going into the August 2022 poll?
For our sins, we therefore find ourselves in a twilight zone of the kind Putin’s Grey Cardinal – Vladislav Surkov – manufactured for him. A situation where nothing was real or true and what seemed true could change. Where there was no difference between the opposition and the ruling party because Surkov funded both. Where public life was reduced to theatre, reality could be manufactured and all politics had become ornate thespianism and make-believe. Kenya is not Russia. We have a freer media and an even more widely open social media. Surkov, however, created a system that seemed open, engaged in campaigns and held elections but where the outcome was predetermined. Too much freedom, he argued, was destabilising, so he manufactured a fake Truman Show type of freedom that Russians, especially those who watched state-controlled TV, could participate in.
And so, in our version of political Vitimbi theatre, we are confronted with confusing choices. Raila Odinga, the repository of progressive politics for the last four decades, has partnered with his former political arch-enemy and one-party progeny, Uhuru Kenyatta, to create the Azimio formation. It is rallied against Deputy President Ruto’s UDA party that hit the campaign trail in 2017 with a brilliant populist narrative of “us versus them”, of “hustlers versus dynasties”. The latter, however, lacks even the pretence of dealing with the major issues of the day. Indeed, UDA’s spokespersons have said that they don’t plan to deal with corruption at all! Raila Odinga has progressive pedigree – and here I admit I am subjective – and is clearly counting on both that and the trust of those who remember all he has struggled for to win the presidency. This is tempered by profound fears among progressives that our political victories – such as the constitution – are about to be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, that the eating machine that has pushed our public debt to US$100 billion is the most organised formation of our political reality. The defining issues of yesteryear, such as the constitution, corruption, the very essentials of democracy, deepening poverty and the cost of living, are being handled far more gingerly by the political class this time round.
The eating machine that has pushed our public debt to US$100 billion is the most organised formation of our political reality.
This political mishmash and the lack of clarity could in part explain the resounding lack of genuine excitement in our politics among Kenyans. Add to this the impact of COVID-19, the dramatic deepening of economic inequality, increases in the cost of living and poverty, and it’s understandable that Kenyans seem just tired with it all. The con has been exposed as a con, an empty debe making noises that are incoherent and sometimes amusing, as they say. Still, it does not help that we have entered the most expensive campaign in the history of East and Central Africa with no grand issues to define it. The 2017 election cost US$1 billion and was a washout, shredding the legitimacy of the political elite. Now we find ourselves in the curious twilight zone of Putin’s Gray Cardinal – a lot money being spent, a lot of campaigning underway. For what? What’s the big change being promised beyond a reorganisation of the elite on the deckchairs of the Titanic? Kenyans are no longer being inspired with ideas but with things – we’ll build a stadium, a hospital, a road, a school, an airport, etc. And of course, the elite has these contracts “under control”, as they say. But it seems we haven’t the faintest idea what will be taught in those schools and what kind of Kenyans they will produce. Where the roads lead to and why. The era of big ideas would seem to have been put on pause for now.
Events leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 offer a sobering lesson on why we cannot rely on the UN Security Council to save the world from the scourge of war.
As the drums of war beat across Europe, and as the West begins imposing severe sanctions on Russia and its oligarchs in response to President Vladimir Putin’s military aggressions against Ukraine, many are wondering what role the United Nations Security Council could have played to prevent this war from escalating. After all, isn’t that the point of the Security Council – to prevent wars?
Seventy-seven years ago, on 26 June 1945, 50 states endorsed the United Nations Charter with a promise to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. Reeling from the devastating impact of the Second World War, the states that ratified the Charter were determined not to repeat the scenario that had led to massive loss of life and physical destruction. For this reason, they created the UN Security Council, which consists of five permanent veto-holding powers, namely the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – the victors of the Second World War who had borne the brunt of the war and were expected to maintain peace in a post-war world. (Ironically, all five members are part of the global military-industrial complex that supplies weapons to the rest of the world.) The 10 non-permanent members of the 15-member Council are elected for two-year terms on a rotational basis. Their voices, votes and opinions don’t really count, even if they make persuasive anti-war speeches invoking nations’ sovereignty at the Security Council, as did Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Martin Kimani, on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (which some have claimed was hypocritical as Kenya itself ignored Somalia’s sovereignty when it invaded that country in 2011 despite being warned against doing so by none other than the United States).
If Europe descends into a Third World War situation as a result of Putin’s actions – which will no doubt create a massive refugee crisis in Europe and bring about economic hardship not just in Russia but globally – will the United Nations itself become largely irrelevant, reduced to dealing with a humanitarian crisis that would have never erupted if it had the power to prevent the war in the first place? Will it just appeal for humanitarian aid, as it has done in Yemen and other refugee- and IDP-producing places recently, instead of condemning and sanctioning Saudi Arabia, which started the war?
As recent history has shown, the UN Security Council has been unable to prevent wars in places such as Ukraine because the five permanent members, also known as the P-5, are not held to account when they themselves become aggressors. This is why Russia – a veto-holding permanent member of the Council – did not suffer any UN sanctions when it carried out military actions in Chechnya in 1999, in Georgia in 2008, and in Crimea, which it annexed in 2014. Imposing severe sanctions on a permanent member of the UN Security Council has rarely happened. This is why no sanctions were imposed on the United States and Britain when they decided to invade Iraq in 2003 without Security Council approval and despite anti-war protests around the world. Western nations are quick to call Putin a “war criminal” but did not call Bush or Blair war criminals even when it became obvious that their assertions that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” and harboured Al Qaeda were false, and even after they ignored anti-war protests around the world.
Before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the US Secretary of State Colin Powell had made a detailed and elaborate presentation at the UN Security Council purportedly showing that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and links with the terrorist organization Al Qaeda that had carried out the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. His lengthy televised performance at the Security Council – which even he later regretted – did not convince many members of the UN Security Council that an invasion of Iraq was necessary. But US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were adamant about waging a war against Iraq. They ignored reservations expressed by some Security Council members, notably France, and went to war with Iraq anyway, even though UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had declared the war “illegal” (which goes to show how little clout UN Secretary-Generals have in military affairs). Despite this, Western nations did not impose sanctions on the US and Britain, as they are now doing with Russia, perhaps because this time European lives and the sovereignty of European nations are at stake.
Failed sanctions amid scandals
The case of Iraq is particularly illustrative of the impunity that the P-5 enjoy when it comes to taking military actions around the world. It also shows how sanctions can have devastating consequences.
After the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded and occupied Kuwait in 1990, the US led a coalition of forces that pushed the Iraqi military out of Kuwait. Subsequently, the UN Security Council unanimously imposed sanctions on Iraq. The sanctions regime was to be implemented through the UN’s Oil-for-Food progamme that did not allow Iraq to sell its vast reserves of oil commercially; rather oil sales were managed by the UN and all the oil proceeds were held in a UN bank account. Two-thirds of the proceeds were to be used to pay for humanitarian goods for the Iraqi people while the rest was used to compensate Kuwait for the destruction it had suffered during Iraq’s invasion and occupation.
However, as investigations later showed, the Oil-for-Food programme was manipulated by Saddam to enrich himself. He managed to sell oil to hundreds of individuals and firms that were willing to ignore or bypass the sanctions (a tactic I believe Putin will also employ). The investigations revealed that more than 2,000 companies and individuals from more than 40 countries had paid bribes or received kickbacks from Saddam to participate in the programme and that billions of dollars that were intended for the Iraqi people had been lost. These revelations only came to light after the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was forced to order a probe into the programme following a series of exposés in the Iraqi and international media that showed that even top UN officials in Iraq were involved in the scam.
The case of Iraq is particularly illustrative of the impunity that the P-5 enjoy when it comes to taking military actions around the world.
The Oil-for-Food programme was not only corrupted, it was also a disaster for the Iraqi people. The UN investigation led by Paul Volcker showed that the Iraqi people received poor quality food and medical supplies under the scheme and that much of the food was “unfit for human consumption”. Unfortunately, the Volcker report was released when the programme had ended and when the United States and Britain already had their boots on the ground in Iraq.
The war was a disaster, and its impact is being felt even today. Independent sources showed that at least 600,000 Iraqi civilians lost their lives. Saddam’s ouster also created a power vacuum that led to mayhem. Some of Saddam’s Baath party loyalists joined forces with Sunni jihadists to form the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which went on to unleash terror in Iraq and neighbouring countries in pursuit of an “Islamic Caliphate”.
Of course, Russia’s attack on Ukraine cannot be compared with the US and Britain’s war in Iraq because the circumstances leading up to the wars are different. Moreover, Russia has a permanent seat at the high table at the UN Security Council while Iraq doesn’t. And Russia has far more natural resources and military might than Iraq ever did. Iraq had oil that the world needed, but Putin has a lot more that Europe and the rest of the world needs, including oil, wheat and natural gas. Sanctions may cripple its international financial transactions, but Putin has probably thought of a way to get around them.
The Russian president and his allies, including China, will most likely gang up to evade or undermine sanctions as did Saddam, and perhaps even profit from them. Russia, as a veto-holding permanent member of the UN Security Council, will also not allow the Security Council to impose sanctions on it, although the US, Britain, France and other European will impose sanctions unilaterally and may even intervene militarily under the umbrella of NATO, as they did during war in the Balkans.
Time to reconstitute the Security Council
As Russia and Ukraine lurch towards a war whose repercussions will be felt globally, perhaps it is time to think about reconstituting the membership of the UN Security Council to include states that have no interest in the weapons industry. Membership should be allocated to those countries that have not waged a war in other countries since the Security Council was formed in 1945, which do not have nuclear weapons, and which are genuinely committed to world peace. (At this point, the only country that I think qualifies is Bhutan.)
One might argue that some wars are necessary to remove evil men from power. The defeat of Germany’s Adolf Hitler was necessary, as perhaps was the removal of the Taliban from Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. But some wars lead to even more crises, as is happening now in Afghanistan, and in Libya when NATO bombed that country in a bid to oust Muammar Gaddafi. Libya today stands as a testament to what can happen when a strongman is removed without a plan in place on who will run the country after he is gone. The fighting there continues and anarchy has made Libya a leading hub for human traffickers.
However, it is unlikely that the reconstitution of the UN Security Council will happen any time soon because, as Richard Haass, the President of the US Council on Foreign Relations has pointed out, “those who stand to lose can and do block any such change”.
While Martin Kimani was right to condemn Russia, he seemed to embrace the colonial legacy in Africa.
As the United Nations Security Council debated Russia’s move to recognise the independence of two breakaway regions in Ukraine and to deploy “peacekeepers” there, a speech by Martin Kimani, Kenya’s UN ambassador, caught the attention of many. It is being described as one of the best speeches delivered at the forum. In it, Kimani eloquently expressed Kenya’s opposition to Russia’s actions and to the idea of using force to change borders left behind by collapsing empires.
In not so many words, the Kenyan envoy asserted that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who in a rambling speech just hours before had bemoaned the dismemberment of the USSR in 1991, could take a lesson from the African experience.
“Kenya and almost every African country was birthed by the ending of empire. Our borders were not of our own drawing,” he said. “Had we chosen to pursue states on the basis of ethnic, racial or religious homogeneity, we would still be waging bloody wars these many decades later. Instead, we agreed that we would settle for the borders that we inherited. But we would still pursue continental political, economic and legal integration. Rather than form nations that looked ever backwards into history with a dangerous nostalgia, we chose to look forward to a greatness none of our many nations and peoples had ever known.”
It was a masterful performance, but one that is quite troubling for its seeming valorisation of the colonial order that continues to this day. Africans, according to Kimani, had not known greatness before the white man arrived and with his departure, had apparently left them with the framework to pursue it.
The Charter of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to which he referred established the inviolability of colonial borders, to a large extent putting to bed a debate over how to undo the colonial legacy – the assembly of 32 heads of state and government who signed it in May 1963 in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa basically decided not to.
According to Kimani, this was “not because our borders satisfied us, but because we wanted something greater forged in peace”. Renegotiating the boundaries and the colonial systems built on them was seen as not only a recipe for chaos, but also a barrier to “something greater” for the rulers (the preamble to the Charter prophetically begun with the words “We the heads of state” not “We the people”).
As the late Tanzanian leader, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, would later remark, once “you multiply national anthems, national flags and national passports, seats at the UN, and individuals entitled to 21 guns salute, not to speak of a host of ministers, prime ministers, and envoys, you have a whole army of powerful people with vested interests in keeping Africa balkanised”.
Independence was thus little more than a coat of paint. Like their colonial predecessors, the shiny new states would continue to be built on extraction from the Africans. Independence would mean freedom for the state, not for the people. Along with “respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each state and for its inalienable right to independent existence”, the OAU Charter also enshrined the principle of “non-interference in the internal affairs of States” which meant rulers could do as they wished within the colonial borders.
In 2013, Kimani’s boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, who, along with Deputy President William Ruto, had taken office while charged with crimes against humanity in relation to the 2007-08 post-election violence, successfully pushed for reassertion of impunity for heads of state at the OAU’s successor, the African Union.
Kimani’s predecessor, Ambassador Macharia Kamau, also presented the argument for impunity to the UN, urging the Security Council to void Kenyatta’s prosecution. At one function, he would even assert that people kicked out of their homes by the election violence had benefitted from their displacement. “They’ve come out way ahead,” he said, arguing that many of those subsequently resettled by the state had been squatters before the violence.
So when Kimani speaks of “complet[ing] our recovery from the embers of dead empires in a way that does not plunge us back into new forms of domination and oppression,” the fact is the opportunity to do so was scuttled long ago by the people he represents at the UN – “we the Heads of State”.
Further, while he is right to condemn Russia for its violations of Ukrainian sovereignty, the stench of hypocrisy permeates his speech. After all, in October 2011, Kenya itself massed troops and equipment on the border with its neighbour, Somalia, and sought a pretext to send them across, despite dire warnings from the West. To date, the country has refused to comply with a ruling from the International Court of Justice on the maritime border with Somalia, preferring instead to withdraw from the court.
That Kimani’s speech has garnered praise from former colonisers who like to pretend they were doing Africans a favour should thus come as o surprise. To be sure, Russia needed to be condemned and the things he said in that regard needed to be said. Only he said much more than he should have and, in any case, Kenya was perhaps not the best nation to make the argument.
Environmental Crisis: The New Empire and Its Colonies
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Russia-Ukraine Crisis has Exposed the UN’s Inability to Prevent Wars
Imperialism by Other Means and the Rise of the Financial Inclusion Delusion
The Stench of Hypocrisy Permeates the Kenyan UN Ambassador’s Ukraine Speech
Wagalla Massacre: State-Sponsored Terrorism
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How digital capitalism, despite often being framed as potential growth engine, exploits the already marginalized and reproduces inequalities and power-relations between Africans.