corruption laid bare

On December 30 Mwai Kibaki was inaugurated as Kenya's third president. Under a coalition of opposition parties - the National Rainbow Coalition - Kibaki achieved a bloodless coup against Arap Moi.

On December 30 Mwai Kibaki was inaugurated as Kenya's third president. Under a coalition of opposition parties - the National Rainbow Coalition - Kibaki achieved a bloodless coup against Arap Moi.

The first announcement Kibaki made after unveiling his cabinet was the creation of the post of permanent secretary in charge of goverance and ethics.

It's Our Turn to Eat, Michaela Wrong's book is about this new anti-corruption czar - John Githongo.

Narrated in the racy style normally seen in political thriller movies, Wrong captures the story of this young energetic and patriotic Kenyan committed to fighting graft in the public sector.

Based at State House and having direct access to the president, Kithongo took to his job with enthusiasm and the knowledge that he had clout.

But things turned sour for him when he came to realise that his job was just one big farce.

The new government had put the anti-corruption measures in place as a mere facade.

The reality, Kithongo discovered, was that the rulers (past and present) were actually birds of a feather - committed to looting the country's riches at the expense of the poor.

Kitongo's brief was to smell out any corruption within government. If he suspected anything he was to ask the Kenya anti-corruption commission to investigate. the commission could then get the attorney-general or intelligence service to investigate the matter.

His experience was that nothing normally came out of these investigations.

He eventually realised that all these structures were actually in the pockets of the political heads who were running front companies awarded multimillion rand government contracts.

One such company was called Anglo Leasing and Finance. It was supposed to be a British company based in London but it turned out to be owned by local politicians, including ministers. The looters tried to appeal to his ethnic loyalties.

As a Kikuyu he had to show his loyalty by allowing the Kikuyus to benefit from the " matunda ya uhuru " (fruits of independence).

It's Our Turn to Eat is based on recordings, files and tapes that Kithongo collected during his interaction with the "Mount Kenya Mafia" - the name given to the ruling elite comprising mainly Kikuyus and their close relatives from the Embu and Meru tribes.

Realising his life was in danger - after being told that he "would never have grandchildren" - a Kenyan euphemism meaning one will not live long - Kithongo decided to abscond overseas, ending up on Wrong's doorstep with all the material that was needed to expose the corrupt politicians of his country.

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