Our society accepts murder while avoiding pain at all costs


“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”France

When Mark Twain wrote this, he was referring to that personal mission we all have in life, and which is hard to discover and realise.

Murder is the sudden shattering of that personal mission. It is the barring of dreams, expectations and realisations.

The recent murder of two prominent political figures in Nairobi shattered some of these dreams. Philip Godana, former Moyale MP, was assassinated last week at his family home in Syokimau.

Godana’s assassination comes worryingly close to another bloody murder, the one of Kabete MP George Muchai. The situation is disturbing.

These assassinations point at two possible scenarios. The first is the final death of our justice system. We are rapidly becoming the Wild West in East Africa, where matters are informally, but fatally, settled.

Second, it marks the death of our security apparatus. Nairobi streets have been unsafe for a long time. We knew that. But we didn’t know we were unsafe even if we were surrounded by two bodyguards and a driver.

We also knew Nairobi homes were safer than the streets. But we didn’t know that home was unsafe even if surrounded by grills and padlocks.

Godana died at home, in what should have been the safest place to be. Muchai, and his bodyguards, died on the street. Sadly, we have a mix of both scenarios; insecurity on the street and a terminally ill justice system.


Godana’s daughter, Balla, saw it all. She is one of my very efficient, remarkable young professionals. She is polite, honest, clever and fast.

Balla had to witness the horrible assassination of her own father. This wasn’t a mere robbery. These were not thieves but hired assassins. Mercenaries.

It was an execution, and the whole family was forced to watch this senseless killing. The motive is still unclear, at least to the Godana family and to me.

The loss and pain caused by a father’s death in such a horrible manner is not easily forgotten or forgiven. Life will never be the same again for the Godanas.

Pain is one of those ugly realities that twists our outlook of life. When pain is inexplicable, it has the power to turn a person into a saint or a devil.

Something good can come from suffering, but often there is no tangible evidence that it does. Life remains as Jacques Maritain says, a “wretched condition” which only faith may give meaning.

In our efforts to avoid pain, we all go through terrible pain. We work out in the gym till we can’t bend anymore, we run without being chased, we cycle without moving.

We do yoga to ensure a peaceful existence and end up causing irreversible damage to muscles we did not know we had, or we eat like a dead person hoping that this will prolong our life.


It is a paradox. We go through a painful life to obtain a painless death, yet pain is our best companion in life. An adult who feels no pain is either insane or dead. As the saying goes, if after turning 50, you wake up and you feel no pain, you are dead!

Life is full of contradictions, and happiness is one of them. The more we search for our own happiness and comfort, the farther away it will be.

It’s only when you stop seeking your own personal happiness and start seeking the happiness of those around you that you find your own. It’s amazing and it works.

These paradoxes also affect governments. Yesterday’s launch of “the condoms for children campaign” is the ultimate sherry on the messy cake we are baking for ourselves.

In our attempt to please some donor and use sexual pleasure as a political tool to reduce pain, we have publicly turned what used to be called “fornication”, “casual sex” or even “abuse of minors” into a formidable virtue.

We have paved the way to the realisation of an open, real-time porn culture.

Any sensible educator is already scared of the consequences of such a brave campaign. The effects will only be seen 30 or 40 years down the road, and those making today’s decision and pushing the agenda will be too old to see them.


We have mass-produced and generalised a prescription that could have been sensible for specific reasons, in specific places and in given circumstances. We have turned medical advice into ice cream — good for all.

Modern education has been reduced to information about English, Chemistry, Geography, Mathematics and Physics, and we have been hoping that virtues would be somehow instilled in young minds by osmosis.

It is not happening and the porn-culture will only worsen it.

We identified a problem, that children are having premature and unprotected sex, yet instead of reversing the trend and educating them, we have encouraged them to continue, only now with a condom.

Institutionalising the explosive blend of immature sex and peer pressure has the power of turning these children, especially boys, into wicked, criminal beasts.

I wonder what role such campaigns will play in Kenya’s future. Instead of educating we were just informing. Now instead of virtue, we are instilling vice and calling it virtue.

I’m afraid we have taken the wrong shortcut.

Dr Franceschi is the Dean of Strathmore Law School. Email: Lfranceschi@strathmore.eduTwitter:@lgfranceschi


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