The Mombasa Republican Council essay
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The Mombasa Republican Council commonly known as the MRC is an illegitimate organization in the East African country, Kenya. The party has its roots in the coastal part of the country; majorly in Mombasa region. This group has created party slogan saying, “Pwani si Kenya,” (Omukubi 2012) meaning the Coast is not in Kenya. MRC was formed in the mid 90’s but it is not until 2008 that it has come to the limelight. The main agenda of the group is to voice up on behalf of the coastal communities in issues relating to land and economic relegation. Members of the party refer to the communities of the coastal region as “Coasterians” and the rest of the people as “Kenyans”.
The coastal communities of the country have always yearned to have their own governance. Therefore, the emergence of the MRC group is like an answered prayer to some of the community members. They feel that the Kenya government does not involve them in National Economic Planning and Land Policies. Claims that this is a political and NGO group have been refuted by the members stating that it is a social group. The Kenya Government has constantly warned the group of its illegality but the warnings have yielded no fruits as according to reports the group seems to be growing in numbers. The government has therefore decided to use force to stop the group (Goldsmith 2011). Some of its members have been arrested and jailed while others have been released on bond. The group’s leaders claim they are not armed but while arresting these some of the members, the police have found them with arms such as knives and machetes. Some of them were caught taking oaths for membership.
According to Noel Omukubi in her article “Mombasa Republican Council’s court victory”, MRC is a group that is funded by wealthy businesspeople as well as some coastal politicians. They feel the Kenya government has no right over the protection of the region. They detest the country governance that was borrowed from the British during the colonial period. MRC has written and designed their own constitution and they strongly suggest they are ready to manage themselves. This article clearly explains why the group emerged, its policies and how unconstitutional it is.
Goldsmith (2011) in his report on the Mombasa Republican Council, gives a detailed research on MRC. His research included interviews to both MRC and non-MRC members. He gives the controversial reasons for the emergence of the group.
In years 1895 and 1963, the British (the Kenya colonizers) agreed to allocate a ten-mile piece of land to the Kenyan government. MRC considers this as a form of bribery to the government they had colonized reasoning that some of the land already had owners. Many of the coastal people are living as squatters as their land was dispossessed from them. The MRC group wants to fight for these people and see to it that they get their ancestral land back. Throughout the years, politicians from the region have convinced the citizens to vote for them promising to settle the landlessness issue but that has not been the case. MRC is tired of these promises and want to fight for their own rights by themselves. Goldsmith (2011, p. 12) argues that this group claims to have documented evidence of an agreement that was signed in 1963 by the then Prime Minister, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Mohamed Shante indicating that the land was leased for a period of 50 years. This indicates that the government of Kenya is supposed to give back the land to its rightful owners in 2013. But the government is not ready for such an arrangement. In an interview the land minister in Kenya, Mr. James Orengo, affirms that all conditions necessary for the transfer of land should be met before the land changes ownership.
In both articles, it is evident that MRC is an outlawed group. The group violates the country’s constitution. For instance, Article 36 of the constitution allows for freedom of association and assembly of every Kenyan citizen if and only if it is for a good cause that can benefit the country and its citizens. But MRC’s intention is destabilize the government and divide the people making it unconstitutional. Moreover, the constitution is against anyone or any group that tries to form a government that is not in line with its laws. Also, that same constitution has outlined the governments borders (waters included) meaning any alterations are considered unconstitutional (Omukubi 2012).
The coastal region is a great income generator for the government through tourism. There are several beaches, caves and scenery that attract tourists both international and domestic. This, in a normal situation, implies that the region should be highly developed and its poverty levels of inhabitants should be low. But this is not the case, a great percentage of the coastal people are very poor and live below the poverty line of one dollar per day. The MRC group is not amused with the government and that is why they want to split from it and form its own government where they can control their own revenue and better their lives.
The group might have genuine concerns but to put it across they do not have to fight. The Kenyan government on the other hand should look for a forum to communicate with the group and reach an agreement. It is important that all citizens of a given country be treated fairly when it comes to matters of economic allocation. A region that helps the government generate income can be appreciated by developing it and helping raise the living standards of its occupants. A country like Kenya should be very careful when it comes to matters of violence as it experienced it in 7007/2008 during the post-election violence. The country is nearing an election period (March 2013) and it is therefore important that the government addresses all the citizens’ grievances to avoid anything that can stir up violence again. MRC might look as a small group but if the government is not careful, more people may be recruited as it seems to be addressing their issues. Since the group’s leaders were arrested, its activities are on the low, this should be clear to the government that the only way to kill the group is through the leaders. The government should engage in serious talks with the leaders rather than attacking the leaders brutally.