Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Western coverage of Kenya's post election violence frequently focuses on the West's shock that a "stable", "democratic" country, could descend to such chaos. I, on the other hand, am not surprised by the current circumstances that Kenyans are experiencing. Kenya reflects a confluence of problematic factors that is common to many African countries and I am surprised that this fact is repeatedly ignored.

Kenya overwhelmingly voted for Kibaki in 2002. He promised change and anti-corruption reforms. Within months of being in office, however, his administration was rocked with allegations of corruption and parliament increased their pay and benefits. Along the 5 years of Kibaki's first term, I believe that many Kenyans assumed that he and his peers were no different from the former dictator, Arap Moi.

So, when the tabulation of votes in the recent election were 'delayed' and then the election results were announced 1 hour before Kibaki was announced the winner and then immediately sworn in for a second Presidential term, how else are angry people supposed to react? It is understandable that they would resort to violence. The fact that such violence has now taken on a tribal trademark worsens the already agitated situation.

The powers that be have created the perfect circumstances where the frustration that arose from the apparent failures of democracy have now been bastardized into tribal hatred and violence. Politicians are renowned for their ability to use tribalism to garner votes ignoring the fact that tribalism usually results in serious problems. Most African countries experience tribal tension and that is a fact that many nations have not fully addressed. Failure to handle such tribal tension allows tribalism to become a weapon of violence. That is obviously the case today in Kenya.

I can only hope that Kibaki and the opposition leader, Odinga, will set aside their egos for the sake of peace in Kenya and take the necessary steps towards national reconciliation, national unity and true democracy in Kenya. Reports are emerging that people are not only dying, but those who have managed to avoid the violence now face hunger as shops have been looted and/or are closed.

I am thankful that Nigeria's May elections, though flawed and violent, did not build-up to the pandemonium that Kenya now experiences. Nevertheless, the pragmatist in me recognizes that Nigeria, which arguably hovers on the precipice, could have experienced similar carnage. It only takes a small spark to cause poor, disappointed people to turn to violence to express their anger.

Keeping that in mind, I hope that Yardy and the other Big Boys are paying attention to how quickly corruption and mago-mago democracy (false democracy) can cause a ticking time bomb to explode. There are many reasons why Kenya is in chaos, but let us not forget that the intersection of dashed dreams, poverty, corruption, and a shoddy democratic system can cause an eruption in many a country. If that, God forbid, were to happen in Nigeria, then we would all suffer regardless of class, tribe or religion. We cannot afford that to happen. Nigeria's 'leaders' must keep this in mind and Nigerians must do all they can to prevent that possibility.

To my Kenyan brothers and sisters, I hope that a remedy to this situation will appear and that it will act as a salve and balm to the wounds that this violence has created in Kenya's psyche.

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Beauty said...

It is sad to wake up to the invented tradition of Africa where nothing good happens or ever happened with thanks to the terrible news out of Kenya, Chad, Somalia, SA, Zimbabwe & Ivory coast. 2008 seemed to be preparing us for more of the same sorrows of the previous years.

How can we get more fans of common good involved? How do we help change the mindset that do not understand change? How do we teach our people about adapting to change as our only salvation? Your work here is a great effort that a lot us will continue to emulate and support. Happy New Year to you and all.


@ Beauty: You are so right. We do have to find a way to encourage change. Some of us hope that someone will read something that will spark the desire for change and encourage people to begin to strive for better.

The issue becomes finding a way to circumvent the status quo. I talked about this when I was a new blogger and am seeing Nigerians work extremely hard to do it. The walls they face are high though. But, I still believe that Nigerians are beginning to realize that things must change.

It starts in the mind. Psychologically, many of us do not believe that Africa can be better and so we do not work together to change it and the negative image it has. I believe that those who believe in a better continent for Africans will succeed eventually. The road is long and tough but we must not give up.

Don't give up, Beauty. We must all take one step at a time. Thank you for your constant frankness, Beauty. I rely on it always!

Anonymous said...

You're definitely right about taking one step at a time. we shouldn't give up on our beautiful beautiful continent. we are so proud of our heritage, we love love our traditions and honor our culture, and it breaks our heart to see such pain and destruction.

Unknown said...

It is amazing how things come together to create a problem. Kenyans will put this episode behind them. Nicely written post.

Unknown said...

Happy New Year

Ms. Catwalq said...

The painful thing for me is that when I look at my people and I mean Africans as a whole and not just Nigerians, I see all the greatness that we are, all the things we can do , have done and are doing.

The moment I heard that the Kenyan president had been sworn in an hour after the results were announced, I knew that something seriously shady was a-happening, the likes of which even Nigeria could not concoct. And the images are just disheartning: tear gas, whips, people running, women and men being manhandled...what has power and greed done to people that they would jeopardise the lives of others so?


@ kreativemix: it will take all of us finding a way to work together despite our differences to make Africa greater than we can imagine. I agree that the continent is fantastic. If only we could find away to address the problems and overcome the global stigma we face. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

@ fred: yes, I truly believe that Kenya will put this behind them" as you said. I just want that to happen quickly before more lasting damage is done. Thanks for stopping by and don't be a stranger.

@ Olamild: Happy New Year to you too! Hope all is well. I will swing by your blog over the weekend. See you there!

@ Catwalq: Ah, you have asked the million dollar question. Our forefathers and mothers tried to figure it out. I just wish there was a way to limit the impact of wickedness.

Anya Posh said...

It is rather unfortunate but this situation was a disaster waiting to happen. I read an article in July 2007 in 'Vanity Fair' by a Kenyan journalist and he explored the extent to which Kenya's problems have been guised under the shoddy pretext of a democracy; when indeed it shares many of the problems similar to other African countries of tribalism & corruption.
If this kind of violence is what it takes for democracy to materialize in the developing world, then Nigeria should expect its own outbreak of violence anytime from now. But I try not to be that pessimistic when thinking about Nigeria. And that maybe we can work out something more tangible in our efforts for a sustainable democracy.

Unknown said...

Concern and Hope will not stop Nigeria's descent into chaos. What are you prepared to do to stop this descent into chaos?

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