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


in kenya...

Things in Kenya are still fairly tense. Sam reports that their part of Nairobi has pretty much returned to normal, other parts of the city are full of displaced people who are sleeping in open fields to assure their safety. However, the news that exit polls conducted by the U.S. government-backed International Republican Institute indicate that President Mwai Kibaki actually lost the election is sure to set off a new round of violence. The data hasn't been released, but if it's on the news here, you can be sure it's being relayed by text message across Kenya.

Add that to weekend accusations that some people are being paid to incite violence (which is not at all surprising, considering how election-related violence in Kenya has played out in the past) and I'm afraid that it may be even longer before this dispute is resolved.

One bright light in the midst of something so sad: Kenya's thriving middle class isn't putting up with this. Under the old Moi dictatorship, everyone knew he was stealing elections, but no one could really protest it without threat of jail or worse. Now, protest is alive and well, and people are demanding that their government be transparent and truly democratic. Although the current round of planned protests may not help to restore calm, and although Kenya still has a ways to go to full democratization, there's no question that the country's democracy is growing and strengthening. That's something of which every Kenyan can be proud.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Writers must sometimes feel like the Greek prophetess Cassandra, gifted to see the future but fated not to be believed. What is unfolding in Kenya could as well have been lifted from the novel Wizard of the Crow where the ruling party and the opposition parities engaged in Western-sponsored democracy become mirror images of one another in their absurdity and indifference to the poor. The picture of men and women burnt down in a church where they had gone for refuge still haunts my mind. A child running away from the fire was caught and hurled back into the flames. One of the few survivors was quoted as saying: "But they knew me; we were neighbours. I thought Peter was a friend - a good neighbour. How could Peter do this to me?" I had heard the same puzzled cry from Bosnia.

I had heard the same cry from Iraq. I had heard the same, same words from Rwanda: "We were neighbours; we'd married into each other. How could this happen?" And now I hear the same cry from Eldoret North in my beloved Kenya. For me this burning of men, women and children in a church is a defining single instant of the current political impasse in Kenya. And this must be separated from accusations and counter-accusations of rigged elections by the contending parties. Rigged elections is one thing - it can be righted by any mutually agreed political measures - but ethnic cleansing is another matter altogether. What is disturbing is that this instant seems to have been part of a co-ordinated programme with similar acts occurring in several other places at about the same time against ordinary members of the same community. Ordinary people do not wake up one morning and suddenly decide to kill their neighbours. Ethnic cleansing is often instigated by the political elite of one community against another community. It is premeditated - often an order from political warlords. Or it may be the outcome of an elitist ideology of demonising and isolating another community. Either way the aim is to drive members of the targeted community from the region. Premeditated Frantz Fanon, the intellectual visionary of the Third World, had long ago warned us of the dangers of the ideology of regionalism preached by an elite whose money can buy them safe residence in any part of a country.

A single instance of premeditated ethnic cleansing can lead to an unstoppable cycle of vendettas - a poor-on-poor violence - while those who tele-guided them to war through the ideology of hate and demonisation are clinking glasses in middle-class peace at cocktail parties with the elite or the supposed enemy community.This crime should be investigated by the United Nations. If it is found that a political organisation has run a campaign on a programme that consciously seeks to isolate another community as a community, then they ought to be held fully accountable for the consequences of their ideology and actions. It is often easier to blame a government when it is involved in massacres. This is as it should be. A government must always be held to higher standards, for its very legitimacy lies in its capacity to ensure peace and security for all communities. But what about if such a massacre is inspired by a programme of an opposition movement? This ought to receive equally severe condemnation from all and sundry, for being in opposition does not give an organisation the right to run on an ideology of isolation and hate targeted at another community. An opposition movement is potentially a government of tomorrow.

A programme that such a political organisation draws while in opposition would obviously be the programme they'll try to implement when in power.That's why such acts must be condemned even when they are clothed in progressive, democratic-sounding words and phrases. I therefore call upon the United Nations to act and investigate the massacres in Kenya as crimes against humanity and let the chips fall where they may. For the sake of justice, healing and peace now and in the future I urge all progressive forces not to be so engrossed with the political wrongs of election tampering that they forget the crimes of hate and ethnic cleansing - crimes that have led to untimely deaths and the displacement of thousands. The world does not need another Bosnia; Africa certainly does not need another Rwanda.

Monday, January 14, 2008 2:31:00 PM

Anonymous a kenyan said...

WOW ! ODM/Raila Odinga propaganda at its best - let me refresh memories for a moment .News reports reporting election day exit polls- By American pollsters In kenya on election day said different -Raila and his British backers and they are behind the propaganda campaign against Kikuyus and kibaki . Ever since kikuyu recaptured power british firms have lost out on government contracts

Here is a brief sample of what they would not like you to see or read reports on election day that showed Kibaki leads in Exit polls. As reported




So As a kenyan and a kibaki supporter my question is where were this exit polls on election day . Isnt it funny that exit polls showing Kibaki lost showed up when the election dispute has been going on for almost three weeks .But on the day exit polls were conducted and before the dispute all wire services and pollster said Kibaki won. why were this exit not released before the vote counting or before the dispute. like other exit polls

P.S Not to rub it in for all pro ODM Bloggers and press didn’t exit polls show Barack Obama winning NH .Yet the results showed different

Monday, January 14, 2008 7:30:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Okay, there's not time or room here to respond to all these comments, but I do want to make it clear that I have no stake whatsoever in this fight. I loved living in Kenya, and have many friends there. Some are Kibaki supporters and some are Odindga supporters and some aren't all that interested in politics. I'm not on either side. I just want Kenya to continue to peacefully develop, and for whoever's in power to respect the rights of all Kenyan citizens.

The exit polls in New Hampshire did not show Obama winning there. There's a difference between exit polls and pre-election day polls. Polls taken before election day showed him with a significant win.

Exit polls are pretty useless until there's a representative sample, and the ones you cite were based on data from a very small number of polling stations. It was quite clear leading up to the election that it would be extraordinarily close. What actually happened, I imagine we'll never know.

Monday, January 14, 2008 9:52:00 PM

Anonymous mwangi said...

Kenyans know exit polls- and exit polls did also show obama was leading see link


'Even the Exit Polls showed that Obama should have won, according to Chris Matthews on Hardball today. It's the first specific indication that we've seen that the raw, unadjusted Exit Poll data, which only corporate mainstream media folks, not mere mortals, are allowed to see, confirmed pre-election polling which predicted an Obama win '

Kenyans want peace ,truth and justice .I think we should begin by telling the truth . Exit polls also showed kibaki won lets be fair . i think the evidence on all the links provided gives evidence

It doesnt help to state half truths telll people about what the other exit polls said not that odinga won

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 4:01:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Okay, I don't fight on this blog. I will say that one of my very good friends is one of about 20 people who gets to see the exit polls before the rest of us do. There's a difference between a raw score in exit polls to show that someone one, and whether that number is statistically significant in that it tells us who actually won. The exit poll data for the New Hampshire primary was so close that the networks didn't call the election for several hours. It was just too close to call.

But nothing I say is going to change your mind, and nothing you say is going to make me believe that the Kenyan election was entirely free and fair, so I'm going to stop. Good day and thank-you for stopping by.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 6:26:00 PM


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