Reporting from the vantage position that the press gallery is in Parliament, there are times you yearn for some time just to cool off. It gets to a time where an MP rises to speak and all that comes out of his mouth is full of it.
It is at these times that I usually yearn for some comic relief. And last Thursday, Bumula MP Bifwoli Wakoli, that Lands assistant minister, had a generous dose of humour. He just gave me some raw, village wit, that I had missed. (No wonder I went home to Mumias that night).
(And before you start getting worried about my photoshop skills, let me inform you that I ripped that photo from my email. Someone thought it funny enough and forwarded it. I have also seen it in countless walls on Facebook. So clearly, it is not mine, and whoever owns it, or created it, deserves all acknowledgement. Don't sue me for copyright, I just don't know who owns the rights.)
Anyway, if you get the drift and have the background of this honourable member who has his eyes set on the 2012 elections, to become the President of Kenya, then enjoy his entertainment portion that he served to his fellow lawmakers. If you can't enjoy it, I guess, your heart is bleeding at the quality of Kenya's leaders.
But then again, as Peter Wanyonyi is won't to say, Kenyans get the leaders they deserve.
But for Wakoli's presentation in Parliament, I had to copy and paste it here from the Hansard:
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, let me thank you sincerely for seeing me, so that I can contribute to this very important debate.
I want to be very honest that Kenyans have yearned to have a new Constitution
for a very long time. They have yearned for this document for more than 20 years. But
that does not mean that we accept this draft blindly because we have been yearning for it.
We must accept and analyze it. We must criticize it. Those who are for and those who are
against the Draft Constitution must be ready to listen to each other. Those who have
different ideas must compare notes. First, I want to thank the Kenyans who gave their
views. I am not sure that all the views were incorporated in this document. If they were,
there are certain views which we do not know where they came from.
From the outset, I will support this document only with amendments. There are
certain sections which I do not believe in. I do not want anybody to threaten me. At my
age, I am ready to die and do anything. So, this Constitution alone will not make me fear
the statement that “Kenyans want”. Who are these Kenyans? Who am I? Am I not a
Kenyan? So, remove the idea that “Kenyans want”. Who are these Kenyans? If they are a
million, I am one of them. I am prepared to be heard. We need to do a lot of amendments.
This document is just too bulky. Is it an encyclopedia for people to read or a Constitution
for us to use? A Constitution should have straight forward statements and properly
constructed English sentences. But this is garbage. There is a lot of nonsense in this
document. When we say we want this draft to be amended so that it is edited, we are
saying so, in good faith.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, if I may take you through the document you will see
why I am not convinced to support it blindly. First, the document says that there shall be
no State religion. At the same time, there is a contradiction that there are going to be
certain religions. I want us to say that Kenya will be a multi-religious State so that
Catholics or people of Dini ya Msambwa have their own courts. If we confess our faith
we should be allowed to have our courts. You do not know what we Catholics do on the
issue of marriage, burial and how we share our property or how the Msambwa’s do their
With regard to culture, the document says that no man shall be forced to practice
any culture. I am imagining that man is my child. That same man that you are referring to
is my son. Where I come from, there is no man who has fathered a child who can be
buried uncircumcised. Suppose I want to circumcise my child, so that I avoid the
embarrassment of tomorrow, what will happen? If this young man dies, he will be
circumcised before he is buried. I would rather circumcise him alive because any man
who circumcises the dead is not allowed to circumcise the living. I am wondering how
many people will volunteer to circumcise my son who feared the knife when he was
alive! If you circumcise the dead, you will not be allowed to circumcise the living, who
have more market than the dead. Where I come from, there are very few men who are
circumcised when they are dead. We circumcise those who do not want to as long as they
belong to our community. A man who is born a Bukusu, has no choice, but must be
Why were you born a Bukusu if you do not want to be circumcised? You go
where you want. I hold this one with passion. Why should you legislate against the
culture of the people? Surely, it is wrong. We cannot say that Kenya is a non-religious
state. Culture is a religion to some of us. We believe in our religion. How can you
legislate against my religion? For example, if today you say that I am not allowed to
receive the Holy Communion, why should I then go to church if I am not going to receive
the Holy Communion? Why am I a Bukusu if I am not circumcised? You can never be a
Bukusu unless you are circumcised. We do not circumcise women. But if you are
targeting women, you should have put it there that no woman will be circumcised and I
would have supported you. But when you leave it blank like that, I will not support you.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, when you look at page 20, there is the Bill of Rights.
This is terrible! I do not know how you will work on it. It says that every person has a
right to life. That is the truth. Do you know when life begins? I went to the major
seminary to train as a Catholic priest between 1961 and 1962. I left the seminary in 1975.
I was told that before God put me in my mother’s womb, he knew me. He even knew my
name and what I was going to be in this world. In other words, life started with God
before he put me in my mother’s womb. Now, if that is what I believe in and some people
are saying that life starts at conception, surely--- God knew me before my mother and dad
met, yet you are telling me that life started when my mother and dad went to bed. I do not
believe that because God told me that he knew me before I was born. It was my right to
be born and not my mother’s decision to give birth to me. It was my right and that is why
God put me in her womb. Her responsibility was to carry and bring me to this world, and
not to terminate me at will. You must delete this. This idea of abortion is not there. Why
should you have appetite if you are not ready to chew something that you can carry?
Those who do not want to reproduce do not have sex. That is the truth. Why do you have
it and at the same time say that you do not want to have a child? What were you looking
for when you went to bed?
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, when you go further, Clause 30(2) says that a person
shall not be required to perform forced labour. I am a teacher by profession and I am sure
there are some of my students here. I do not want to name them, but I actually slapped them to read hard. If they came late, I gave them manual labour to work in the school
garden. That is how some of them ended up being doctors and Members of Parliament.
Today, you are giving a blank statement that no person is required to perform forced
labour. What will we do with prisoners or people who have committed crime? They go to
prison to be rehabilitated, they must work. Now, when you give us a blanket condition
that nobody is allowed to perform forced labour, if you are not supposed to work, then we
should behave well in this country. We are not going to have heaven in this world.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, there is another very interesting provision that every
Kenyan is entitled to eat and have a free house and health. When God created us, in
Genesis, he said that every man must eat from his own sweat. Now we want men in this
country to eat free. At whose sweat will they do so? My brother, people will stop
working. We will have a nation of lazy men and women. This should be discouraged. If
you really wanted these things, why not put it in statutes, so that when things become
very difficult we can amend. They have said to amend anything in the Bill of Rights; it
must go to the Referendum. I suspect lazy men are more than hardworking men. It is by
nature. People who are idling are more than those who go to farms. If you have ten
children, how many volunteered to go to the farms? Out of you ten children, maybe two
go to the farms without being told. Others, you must whip them. Now you are saying a
country of 30 million, how many will volunteer to go and work for the lazy. I am
wondering. Do you say we support this blindly because PNU and ODM say so? Mr.
Bifwoli will say no! Whether it is PNU, where I belong, I will tell them: No! Those who
Mr. Pesa: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir. Is it in order for the hon.
Member to mislead this House by quoting that it is God who created people to work
hard? Actually, I think it is during Adam’s time that he should have quoted?
The Assistant Minister for Lands (Mr. Bifwoli): Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, if the
hon. Member believes that it is not God who created him, we shall meet on the judgment
day and he will tell God who created him. I am telling him that it is God who created me.
Therefore, if you deny that it is not God who created you, I will ask you on the judgment
day, who created you?
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, let us look at Article 35, it says:-
“35. (1) every citizen has the right of access to—
(a) information held by the State;”
I used to be a headmaster of a school. I had a desk and cupboard, where I kept
secret information about some teachers. When I saw a teacher smiling at a child, I used to
write in his personal file and lock it under the desk. Here, I am being told even if I see a
teacher smiling to a child, he has the right to know what I have written about him. What
about criminals who are citizens of this country and want to know the secrets of the
Government. What shall we do? Surely, let us be reasonable ladies and gentlemen. These
are things that we should jointly delete, so that we give Kenyans a good Constitution. The
fact that Kenyans have been yearning for a good Constitution we cannot give them a bad
one like this one.
(b) “Information held by another person and required for the exercise or
protection of any right or fundamental freedom”
I am imagining that I have some information held about you and you have a right
to know what I am thinking about you. This is my interpretation as English teacher. I am
dealing with it as a teacher of English. I am not dealing with as a lawyer.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, let us look at Article 37. It says:-
“Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to
demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities”
Every person means an army, a police, a teacher and an MP. I am imaging a
situation where MPs will picket, even some of us honourable as we are. We will go to
the street and demonstrate. It is saying every person, it is not classifying which type of
people should go on strike.
Look at Article 41 on Labour Relations. There are some people given the nature
of their employment; are not supposed to join trade unions. These are people like
doctors, nurses, managers, police and people from the security forces. But here they have
said every person has a right to fair labour practices to form, join or participate in
activities and programmes of a trade union and even to go on strike. I am imagining the
day the army and the police will go on strike. How will this country look like?
Mr. Mbadi: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir. Even though Mr.
Bifwoli is really bringing out a very good argument, but I want to remind him that Article
24(5) does not allow the police to go on strike.
The Assistant Minister for Lands (Mr. Bifwoli): Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, is he
on a point of order or he is informing me?
Hon. Members: He is informing you.
The Assistant Minister for Lands (Mr. Bifwoli): No, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir,
before I respond, is he on a point of order or a point of information?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: He is on a point of order---
The Assistant Minister for Lands (Mr. Bifwoli): And instead he is---
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, hon. Wakoli! Indeed, when you say every person
when there are other provisions and articles in the document--- There are two provisos on
that. There are limitations on that! It does not include members of the disciplined forces.
The Assistant Minister for Lands (Mr. Bifwoli): Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, such
information should have come under an Act of Parliament and not in the Constitution.
That is because those people will have the right to ask and to refuse. Let us look at
Article 68. It says that Parliament shall enact legislation to prescribe minimum and
maximum land holding acreages in respect of private land. Surely, when it comes to the
matter of land, and we want to put it in our Constitution that the minimum one should
have, for example, is two acres--- If I do not have the two acres, where will I get the two
acres from? If the maximum parcel of land that one should have is 10,000 acres or 1,000
acres, if I have 100,000 acres, where do you take it? Suppose there are men and women
who have more than 100,000 acres, will you take their land peacefully, or are we looking
at a situation where we are going to have chaos in the name of a new Constitution?
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I want to finish by saying that I will only support this
Constitution on condition that there are amendments. Those amendments will be carried
out without name calling.
This is Kenya and this is an MP. Now, tell me about it! Is this the trouble with our motherland, partly yes!