Malema criticises Kenyan President Ruto’s support for Israel – Sara Gon provides the context he’s missing

In light of Kenya’s history, it becomes evident why they support Israel over groups like Al-Shabaab. The long-standing incidents of terrorism, including the 1980 Norfolk Hotel bombing and subsequent attacks, paint a grim picture. Al-Shabaab’s ruthless acts against innocent civilians in Kenya align with their broader campaign of terror. It is this context that shapes Kenya’s stance, contrary to Julius Malema’s critique of President William Ruto’s support for Israel in the Gaza conflict.

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Malema rebukes Kenyan president, in Kenya, over Israel

By Sara Gon

I know. I shouldn’t give exposure to Julius Malema. It just feeds his agenda, but the chillingly satirical, self-styled ‘Commander in Chief’ is a bit short on historical context, so I feel obliged to provide him with some.

Last week the Pan African Institute (PAI) at Lukenya University in Makueni County, Kenya was launched.

The Scholar Africa newspaper reported excitedly about the event: ‘To rubberstamp (sic) its significance, the event will be graced by the presence of Julius Sello Malema, from South Africa, a renowned orator andthe leader of Economic Freedom Fighters, who will be the Keynote Speaker’.

It’s probably no coincidence that ‘Kenya’s renowned Pan-Africanist and global thought leader’, Prof. PLO Lumumba, was the event’s Chief Guest. 

Colleague Terence Corrigan wrote about him in July 2023 in Another ‘controversial’ speaker. Prof Lumumba is ‘a prominent Kenyan legal academic and former head of the country’s [Kenya’s] Anti-Corruption Commission. He has a reputation as a passionate pan-Africanist, a critic of the state of the continent’s leadership, and an advocate for using Africa’s culture and traditions as a basis for dealing with its governance issues’.

Lumumba was invited by the EFF to speak at its anniversary celebration at the University of Cape Town. However, his views on homosexuality and the recently assented-to Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act proved a problem. 

He greeted the Ugandan legislation thus: ‘All Africans of goodwill should congratulate Ugandan Parliamentarians and their President YK Museveni for defying Western Countries and doing the right thing. We must define ourselves as Africans’.

Protests arose, with people calling on the UCT administration to cancel  permission for the event.

It didn’t, and the event went ahead. The protesters framed their action as condemning the ‘platforming a homophobic proponent of hate speech, in direct dereliction of their duty as an opposition party to uphold the Constitution of South Africa’. By the way, the EFF opposed the Ugandan legislation.

Back to Kenya: ‘It’s entirely enthralling how the launch will build up to the Graduation Ceremony on the next day,’ gushed Scholar Africa.

‘The Institute will ‘enable both staff and students of Lukenya University to exploit opportunities resulting from the Pan-African Intra-Africa Academic Mobility Scheme usually supported by the European Union and the Africa Union’. I think the journalist missed the irony of a European Union supporting a Pan African institute. 

Malema criticised President William Ruto for all sorts of things, including for warmly welcoming King Charles III and Queen Camilla during their visit to Kenya earlier this month.

‘Those who killed our people in the Mau Mau rebellion cannot be saluted by the same army of the children of those who were killed during the rebellion’, he declared.

Malema also hit out at Ruto for supporting Israel in the Gaza conflict. Ruto expressed solidarity with Israel, condemning terrorism and attacks on innocent civilians in Israel.

Here’s a little history lesson to help explain why Ruto’s opinion is contrary to Malema’s. 

On 31 December 1980 the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine set off a bomb in The Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi. It killed 20 people and wounded 87. The owner was Jewish and it has been suggested that the attack was in retaliation for Kenya providing support to rescue the Israeli hostages in Uganda during Operation Entebbe in 1976. The dead included at least four Kenyans, two Americans, two British children, a Dane, a Frenchman, and a Belgian child. 

On 7 August 1998, simultaneous bombs exploded in front of the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Two hundred and twelve Africans died and more than 4,500 people were wounded. The attacks were carried out by Al Qaeda, and are believed to have been revenge for U.S. involvement in the extradition and alleged torture of four members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad who had been arrested in Albania in the two months prior to the attacks for murders in Egypt.

Osama bin Laden initially said that the sites had been targeted because of the ‘invasion’ of Somalia; then he said they were for an American plan to partition Sudan, hatched in the embassy in Nairobi. He also told his followers that the genocide in Rwanda had been planned ‘inside the two American embassies’. Bin Laden’s possible actual goal was ‘to lure the United States into Afghanistan’.

On 28 November 2002, two missiles were fired at, but missed, an Israeli passenger airliner as it took off from Mombasa airport. Subsequently, there was an attack on the Kikambala Hotel, Mombasa. 13 people were killed and 80 injured. Ten Kenyans – most of them were traditional dancers who came to welcome the 140 guests arriving from Israel – and two Israeli children died. 

Almost simultaneously, two surface-to-air missiles were fired at another chartered Boeing 757 owned by Israel-based Arkia Airlines, as it took off from Moi International Airport. Kenyan police discovered a missile launcher and two missile casings in Changamwe in Mombasa, about two kilometres from the airport. This was the second al-Qaeda operation in Kenya.

In October 2011, an operation between the Somali and Kenyan militaries began against Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia. Since then, there have been at least 17 attacks by Al-Shabaab, in which at least 48 people died and 200 people were injured. Targets included police stations, police vehicles, nightclubs, bars, churches, a religious gathering, a downtown building of small shops, and a bus station.

On 21 September 2013, Al-Shabaab-associated gunmen targeted and shot customers at Nairobi’s Westgate Shopping Mall. There were 71 deaths  ̶  62 civilians, 5 Kenyan soldiers and the gunmen  ̶  and about 200 injured. 

In the 2014 Mpeketoni attacks, more than 60 people were killed in and near Mpeketoni, Lamu County. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, but the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta blamed local politicians. Correspondents suggested ethnic or religious hatred or revenge for land grabbing may have been motivations.

On 22 November 2014, 28 Christians on board a bus were executed. The bus was hijacked by suspected members of Al-Shabaab who identified and killed the non-Muslim passengers.

On 2 December 2014, another attack occurred at a quarry in Koromei. 36 people were killed. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility.

In April 2015 almost 150 people were killed in the  Garissa University College attackAl-Shabaab claimed responsibility, singling out and shooting Christian students.

On 15 January 2019, four gunmen attacked the Nairobi Dusitd2 complex. Before they were contained and brought down by the Kenya security forces, the terrorists killed 21 people and injured several others.

On 5 January 5 2020, about 20 Al-Shabaab terrorists attacked Camp Simba, destroying five aircraft, damaging another, and destroying two Oshkosh M-ATVs and several fuel tankers. A U.S. Army Specialist and two other civilian contractors were killed.

Wikipedia lists under Terrorism in Kenya “Lesser incidents” committed between 13 June 2010 and 2 February 2022. Not all were committed by or suspected of being Al-Shabaab acts, but certainly some were.

Julius, do you now understand why Kenya supports Israel rather than an Islamist group that the West has long declared to be a terrorist organisation?

So, just to remind you Julius, Al-Shabaab is the terrorist group that has terrorised innocent civilians in northern Mozambique for the past few years.

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This article was first published by Daily Friend and is republished with permission