Messenger In the last few weeks Kenya has seen an increase in intra-party political violence following the start of its political party primaries that began on April 13th and are scheduled to run for two weeks. Since the start of the ODM primaries chaos has continued to mar the process. The worst cases of political violence were witnessed in Migori in south-western Kenya and Ruaraka in Nairobi.
The violence and turmoil that overtook Kenya in the wake of the disputed December Presidential elections came as a surprise to many in the world. Although Kenya has long been viewed as a source of stability on the African continent, the current strife has already killed more than 1, people and displaced more thanFor historian Claire Robertson all this tragedy was not unexpected.
I wanted to find out how they were faring in the midst of the turmoil that has recently overtaken Kenya in the wake of the disputed December 27, "re-election" of President Mwai Kibaki. Already, the unrest has left over 1, Kenyans dead and more thandisplaced.
The results of the elections have been contested by Raila Odingathe leader of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement ODM and son of Oginga Odingaa prominent post-independence political leader of the Luo group.
The Odinga family is familiar with political defeat: Kibaki too is Kikuyu. He also founded a spectacularly successful rice-growing cooperative serving thousands of farmers in Western Kenya.
He told me that he and the other new members of Parliament were going to take their seats the next day and that they were completely resolute in overturning the election and bringing Odinga to power.
The Kibera school, he said, had now become a refuge for families whose homes were destroyed in the violence, and so far had survived intact. However, I noted that subsequently mobs destroyed the railroad tracks immediately behind it, so I wonder if the school is still unscathed.
Next, I called a woman who has worked for me for years as an administrator of a micro-lending development project for which I raise funds. She relayed how terrible and unsafe daily life had become, and lamented that genocide is being committed against Kikuyu, in particular.
Given my very great affection for many ordinary Kenyans, whose hard work and creativity have earned my admiration, all of this is tremendously upsetting and unsettling.
The explanations given in the Western media for the troubles center primarily on "tribal" animosities, and are not particularly helpful in explaining the political deadlock and social strife. On February 20,on a local National Public Radio station an "expert" said that the solution for Kenyan political turmoil was power-sharing between the opposition and the Kibaki government.
By "power-sharing," he meant bringing all ethnic groups into the government in proportion to their numbers in the population. The implications of this "solution" are even more severe than what is going on now. If we applied this "solution" in the U.
The resulting system would not only offer incentives to organize by ethnicities, but "ethnicize" our country in a way that could only be politically unstable. That is not a good idea here or in Kenya. This "solution" misunderstands the social and political patterns that have developed in Kenya over the last years, in which poverty, political violence, and corruption are more important driving forces than "tribes.
Since independence, political alliances have generally crossed ethnicities and much intermarriage between "tribes" occurred historically and at present.
None of these ethnic or linguistic "blocks" dominates. The art of politics in Kenya—as elsewhere—has been defined by a variety of factors including idealism but also greed, corruption, and a realpolitik in which international pressures have exerted significant influences.
Talk of "tribes" is essentially a cover for more basic class divisions that have been exacerbated, first by colonial and more recently by corrupt governments in Kenya.
A global capitalist economy further abetted social fractures that consigned most Kenyans to being primary producers of coffee, tea, and cut flower exports. A power sharing arrangement was reached at the end of February between Odinga and Kibaki that offered Odinga substantial powers as Prime Minister.
It has calmed the country somewhat, but longstanding social and economic troubles remain.
Just as the politicians opened the Kenyan Parliament in early March, the army was cracking down on groups in the western Mount Elgon region who were voicing protest over land rights and usage.
The Political Consequences of Economic Troubles Admittedly, the crisis is perhaps the worst since independence in ; and this in a country whose government has seemed relatively stable to Westerners.
Aside from a failed coup attempt against Jomo Kenyatta inKenya has had a parliamentary democracy, at least in form, since independence.
They have held regular elections and have seemed on the surface to have a sound capitalist economy. Having knowledge of Kenya, however, this violence does not surprise me. Moi held office from toand stepped down only after being forced to institute a multi-party government by the opposition.
Moi expanded dramatically a series of punitive policies begun by the British colonial government against thousands of Nairobi street traders especially women.
Kenyan governments have generally had a hostile relationship with street and market traders, characterized by failed policies of requiring licenses and insufficient provision of space for them to sell legally.
The troubles of these traders were and are emblematic of the problems caused by the governments—both colonial and independent—for many ordinary Kenyans.
I wrote then, "With government authoritarian tendencies exacerbated, immediate political considerations [population control measures intended to keep down opposition support] outweigh the necessity not only to provide employment but also to feed Nairobi.
Such a policy seems bound to bring trouble More political ructions have already resulted… "In March a new squatter settlement demolition campaign began in Nairobi; the incidence of brutal demolitions was increasing in a systematic campaign involving not only demolitions, but also police beating and mugging the inhabitants.
Developers wanted the land, especially around wealthy suburbs, and those in power feared the poor as a political threat. Such policies encourage riots and efforts to overthrow the government.The Supreme Court decision to nullify Kenya’s presidential election and hold a new poll has of political violence: colonialism, vigilantes and militias.
After the Kadams experience political violence on election night, they flee their burning restaurant in Mumbai and search Europe for a new place to call home.
Hassan Kadams mother is killed in the fire, and she was the one who taught him everything he knows about culinary arts. a political hour of interviews and analysis of the week’s most important issues.
She covered presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial elections and major legislative developments. THE Supreme Court decision on September 1 to nullify Kenya’s presidential August election and hold a new poll has reignited fears that the country could descend into violence.
Kenya certainly has an extensive track record of political violence. This has generally been ethnically mobilised, stemming from grievances over land and . Beyond 'Tribes': Violence and Politics in Kenya. by. Claire Robertson. in which poverty, political violence, and corruption are more important driving forces than "tribes." who came in third in the disputed election running in a third party.
Violence and "Nairobbery" Violence has long played a role in Kenyan politics and society. Moi. Most of us are the victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, and social violence.
Thinking that all these problems must be addressed through political decisions, we are stepping onto the public stage.