Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kenya - News and Perspectives from the Ground

A friend living in Kenya writes with his view on the possible causes of the unrest:

There is no single cause for the present unrest. Yes, the recent announced election result is a part of the problem, but the following also have to be considered:

  • There is a small wealthy elite, huge number of very poor, and virtually no middle class in the societal structure of Kenya
  • Kenya is one of the most corrupt nations in the world, and therefore there is an uneven distribution of assets, including International Aid and Tax revenues.
  • The country of Kenya is plagued by tribalism. The Kikuyu are the largest tribe and the present President is from that tribe. His rival, Raila Odinga is a Luo which is the second largest tribe. President Moi, the previous President is a Kalenjin.
  • When the Kikuyu, peacefully took back the reins of power five years ago, President Mwai Kibaki sacked all the Kalenjin who had been appointed by President Moi. In the early days of Independent Kenya, Tom Mboya (Luo), a rising political figure and challenger to Kenyatta, (Kikuyu, 1st President f Kenya)was assassinated in Nairobi. The Luo suspect to this day that this was a politically motivated event. And in February 1990 Robert Ouko, (Luo) then Foreign Minister was murdered. Even Raila Ondinga's father was imprisoned more than once for extended periods.Now the Lou are convinced that they have been robbed of presidential leadership in this current election. And the Luo are known to be fighters!
  • It is stated that the Kikuyu cannot accept a Luo President as the Luo’s. unlike the Kikuyu’s do not practice circumcision. The Kikuyu therefore are unwilling to accept leadership under a Luo.
  • Kenya, which is the size of Texas, has a growing population with limited arable land. The pressure on land use, especially in certain tribes has led to settlement in other areas of Kenya. Often the land was bought privately at a fair price, but sometimes,(owing to corrupt practices) Government funded settlement schemes have been occupied by others than those intended, and this has led to animosity. The ethnic clashes, and burning of farms in the Eldoret area are an example of tensions over land, coming to the surface.

Here endeth the history lesson. I just wanted to let you know that although it appears that everyday life has returned to most areas of Kenya, the present troubles are but a symptom of deep rooted mistrust and bitterness. Please pray that there will be genuine reconciliation and a political leadership in this country that will look to the welfare and betterment of the people.

No comments: