Connect with us


MUGWE: Rastafarians, hijabs and the paradox of tolerance




Procrustes, also known as ‘the stretcher’, was a Greek
robber dwelling in Attica.

He had a residence on ‘the sacred way’ between Athens
and Eleusis. In his residence was an iron bed in which he invited every traveller
who passed by to spend the night. If the traveller was shorter than the bed, he
stretched him by hammering or racking the body to fit; and if he was longer
than the bed, he cut off the legs to make the body fit the bed’s length. In
either event, the victim died due to Procrustes intolerance for differences.

In recent weeks, our renditions of Procrustes have been
unveiled, and they range from heads of schools to the Judiciary. The first
unveiling began when a school presented a student who professes the Rastafarian
faith with a double bind, when they asked her to choose between shaving her
hair or leaving the school.  After a
court ruling, the girl has since been readmitted.

The second was through an unrelated ruling that was
made by the Supreme Court that allowed a certain school to bar Muslim girl students from wearing hijab, which is a veil that covers their head and chest, citing that it was
against their uniform policy. The third was the rare inquietude displayed by the
Chief Justice during the conference on corruption, where he lamented about his
salacious depiction by bloggers. The common denominator in all the three is the
intolerance for differences. And like Procrustes, there is a desire from all
parties to want to stretch those who do not fit in their ‘bed’ or cut off their
legs if they are too long.

According to the Legatum Prosperity Index that ranks
countries according to how much personal freedom their citizens enjoy based on
criteria such as freedom of speech, religion and social tolerance, among other
variables, Kenya ranks 97th globally and seventh in sub-Saharan
Africa. Based on this data, we can conclusively say Kenya is fairly tolerant.
And this was buttressed by President Uhuru Kenyatta as he sought to advice the
Chief Justice to accept and move on with the unwarranted insults from bloggers,
as everyone else has.

However, as Karl Popper, the Austrian-British professor
and one of the most influential philosophers of science stated in his book, The Open Societies and Its Enemies, that
unlimited tolerance leads to the disappearance of tolerance. He went on to say
that if we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we
are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the
intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. 

To deconstruct Popper’s thinking means that if we
demand unlimited tolerance, then we need to be ready to tolerate the most awful
ideas and acts that occur within our society. When we are asked to tolerate
something that is at the expense of someone else’s existence or well-being,
tolerating such ideas and acts is a tacit endorsement by ourselves, and we
should therefore not complain about them.


Begs the question, is it possible to have too much
tolerance? And does tolerance involve being tolerant of the intolerant? Hence,
as the paradox of tolerance then states, doesn’t this lead to the disappearance
of tolerance altogether? Yet intolerance can only beget conflict.

Tolerance means accepting our differences and allowing
others to engage in behaviour or speech that we might dislike, disapprove of,
or not believe in, as long as that behaviour or speech does not cause harm to
ourselves or others in society. However, such tolerance ought not compel us to
associate with people we differ with, only that we leave them in peace.

Let us take the case of the Rastafarian father. He
based his legal argument on his freedom of religion as protected by our Constitution.
And the State unable to contradict itself and coerce its citizens on religious
beliefs, refrains from interfering in the religious beliefs of its citizens.
Resultantly, the court found in favour of the student due to her inalienable
right to the free exercise of religion that necessitates toleration of all
competing creeds.

But should the dad have been tolerant of the intolerant
school rules against Rastafarians?

The same case obtains regarding the hijab ruling. In
response, National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale urged all Muslims to
ignore the Supreme Court ruling, saying the Constitution protects their right
to wear the hijab and that the court cannot take that away. While this is not in
question, was he being intolerant of the ruling of the highest court in the

In both scenarios, to safeguard the sanctity of
tolerance, shouldn’t the Rastafarian dad and Duale have been tolerant of the
intolerant positions taken by the learning institutions? Shouldn’t they have
respected the school’s right not to associate with those that choose not to
conform to its uniform code, and seek those learning institutions that
embrace their religious dress code?

I submit that tolerance does not mandate association.
And to mandate association is to invite a forceful backing of intolerance
through dissension, disputes, conflict and war; while it would have been easier
to have a peaceful refusal to associate. Granted, nobody enjoys the sting of
rejection or feeling discriminated against, especially those that offend deeply
held religious beliefs. But a society that cannot tolerate differing views and
respect the live-and-let-live principle that gives them the freedom to
associate as they wish, and equally decline to do so, will not be free for too

Finally, my unsolicited advice is to the Chief Justice;
the aim of any social media netizen is to be successful at hyperbolic
clickbait. Therefore, to pronounce a cease and desist order on your lewd
depictions, is like asking water not to be wet. So, to echo President Kenyatta’s
counsel, kubali yaishe.


“Religion is like a pair of shoes; find one
that fits you, but don’t make me wear your shoes.” 

George Carlin 



Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’




Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
[email protected]    


Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

Continue Reading


Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –




Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised


“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through

Continue Reading


William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard




Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

Continue Reading


Kenyan Tribune