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Mr. Kipkorir: The First African Neo-Con
By Ahmed M.I. Egal
Mr. Donald Kipkorir's recently proposed in a column in the Daily Nation (October 3) that Kenya and Ethiopia divide and annex Somalia along 4 latitude, i.e. draw a straight line to the Indian Ocean from the point at which the borders of the three countries meet near the town of Mandera. We are certainly living in unique times, thus perhaps we should not be surprised to discover the first African neo-conservative in these upside down times when the unthinkable blithely comes to pass and the ridiculous is accepted as routine. After all, if a prospective US Vice-Presidential nominee, who had never travelled outside her country before being named as a VP candidate, can say with all seriousness that the proximity of her home state to Russia comprises valid foreign policy experience, why shouldn't a Kenyan lawyer pos it racist, imperial war-mongering as serious policy? In the interests of accuracy, I should state herein that I can't guarantee that Mr. Donald Kipkorir is the first African neo-con per se, merely the first of this rare and politically exotic species that I have come across.
The philosophical perspective, or mind-set to use a modern colloquialism, underlying Mr. Kipkorir's proposal can be gleaned early on in his piece. In the third sentence he frames his annexation proposal as a “… final solution to the Somali problem.” It is instructive to remember that Hitler also proposed a final solution to the Jewish problem, i.e. the Holocaust. Mr. Kipkorir goes on from this ignominious start to his thesis to assert that “…as a Western ally, Kenya is an existential enemy of Arab countries…” . While I'm sure that this is news to the government of Kenya , not to mention the millions of Muslim Kenyans especially those of Arab descent, the fact is that nearly all Arab countries are strong allies of the West, and many are clearly of much greater strategic and economic importance to the West than Kenya .
Having exposed his very limited grasp of international relations and global diplomacy, he then goes on to assert that “ Somalia is a black hole in international law.” Whilst this sentence is a non-sequitur since the country has an internationally recognized government (illegitimate though it may be) and is a member of all the relevant international organization, e.g. UN, AU, Arab League etc., it exposes Mr. Kipkorir's equally limited grasp of international law. This is truly remarkable from a lawyer who would be expected to understand that international law governs the actions of nation-states and that Somalia continues to exist as one precisely because Abdillahi Yusuf's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which was created in Kenya , is recognized by the entire world including all of the Western nations.
Ironically, Mr. Kipkorir goes on to implicitly accept that Somalia is not a black hole in international law by asserting that “…having the Somali legislature to endorse the annexation will be a cake-walk. ” Again it is instructive to note the language he uses.
The neo-cons in the Bush administration sold the Iraq War to the US public on the same basis, i.e. that it would be a cake-walk and we all know how that has turned out!
Mr. Kiprorir goes on to explain why Somalia's third neighbor, Djibouti, should not share in this imperial carve-up by positing that it is “…a primitive entrepot that can't even supply water to its 600,000 people, who are forced to drink that imported from France or Coca Cola.” Ignoring the simple reality that by this standard of primitiveness, i.e. provision of potable water to its people, Kenya also qualifies, one can only envy the per capita income of Djibouti's poor population that are forced to exist on Evian and Coke. I'm sure that many of Kenya 's poor wish that they were similarly impoverished! Could Mr. Kipkorir's obvious, if ill informed and risibly facile, antipathy to Djibouti be motivated by the fact that the population of this country is predominantly Somali and Muslim, and that it is a member of the Arab League?
It is truly amazing to me, as I'm sure it is for many others, that a highly educated African advocate advances this neo-conservative, blatantly racist, imperial, military adventurism with a straight face. Amilcar Cabral and Leopold Senghor, two of Africa's towering giants in the arts and in politics who were the progenitors of Negritude and Pan-African ism , outlined that the most damaging legacy of slavery and colonialism to African peoples was the mind - set that accepted white, Western superiority and black, African inferiority, i.e. the colonial mentality. They asserted that until Africans learnt to think for themselves and embraced their history, identity and culture, their political independence would remain illusory and meaningless.
Mr. Kipkorir is a clear example that some half-century after African independence, the illness of colonial mentality is alive and well in our intellectual discourse. The neo-conservative perspective advanced by him is not the only strand of this intellectual disease, merely one of its more recent and virulent forms. We can only wish Mr. Kipkorir a speedy and complete recovery.