"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

1.04.2008

in kenya...

So while we were out, Kenya held tightly contested elections. The ruling party was declared the winner, but there were serious electoral irregularities (including the pressure put on the electoral commission to release a ruling), and, long story short, violence erupted. Over 300 people have since been killed in rioting that has an unfortunate ethnic tone. 180,000 people have fled their homes. There are attempts at banned protests and those in power aren't doing as much as they could to quickly end this.

I've avoided posting about this because it makes me really sad. It's partly because this doesn't happen in Kenya. Kenyans pride themselves on having never had a civil war, and on being a bastion of stability in a region that has some problems. Nairobi is a major, cosmopolitan city, with shopping malls and traffic lights and skyscrapers. It has its problems, yes, but the situation there is nothing like that of the Sudan or the Congo or Somalia. This election featured polling and campaigning via text messaging in a country with a growing middle class that popped up in the last ten years. Kenya is not a basket case.

The other reason it's so sad, aside from the violence itself, of course, is personal. Kenya is the place I fell in love with the study of politics on the continent. It's been almost ten years since I studied abroad there, and I pass through every time I'm in the Congo. I have very good friends who live in the country, and they are watching the unfolding events in shock as well.

If you'd like to read more about the situation there from some friends on the ground, please check out my friends Sam and Melody's website. They are exceptionally well-suited to explain Kenya to Americans, having both grown up in the region and having lived there for most of their adult lives. Keep your thoughts and prayers with them, and with the millions of Kenyans who are experiencing such a terrible situation.

2 Comments:

Blogger Amy said...

Very sad. Thanks for the links. My housemate is back visiting family and friends for the first time in six years and confined to staying at home. Obviously, I'm sad for the country at large, but also for her unfortunate timing.

Friday, January 04, 2008 1:20:00 PM

 
Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I also have friends in Kenya and the situation is frightening. I was listening to the Kenyan election returns and was afraid this would happen when the election seemed to be going for the opposition according to international observers, but the govt. kept delaying announcing a winner.

Now one of the most stable nations in East Africa is in turmoil and because the political parties have been structured along ethnic/tribal lines, the potential for Kenya spiraling downward toward a Rwanda of the '90s era is devastating to contemplate.

Friday, January 04, 2008 2:15:00 PM

 

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