Questions

The violence in Rift Valley is grinding torwards an inescapable conclusion; this country can not be managed by Kibaki, especially as he continues to avoid fair face to face talks with opposition leader Raila Odinga. Raila’s name means “stinging nettle” and right now Kibaki must be wondering what balm he can apply to stop the pain.

Much hope has been placed on Kibaki and Odinga engaging in dialogue but their eventual face-off has come too late in the day and has not been helped by Kibaki declaring himself to be the “duly elected leader” of Kenya after Kofi Annan mediations have started.

It really doesn’t matter what these two men say or decide in private among themselves because Kenyan violence is assuming a logic of its own.

The election might have precipitated the violence that is gripping Rift Valley Province but it roots lie in the land – and particularly in land-grabbing schemes in which the poor have been denied land.

Curiously, elite land-grabbing schemes do not seem to feature in reports or analyses of what is unfolding. In earlier elections, such violence exploded and the land which was cleared of Kikuyu’s was free to be redistributed by the Moi’s, Biwott’s and Ruto’s of this world. The same logic is at play here.

We hear the voices of marginalized Kalenjins and nothing from the Kalenjin leaders who are content to allow the image of Kenya to be tarnished by scenes of “primitive” hunter-gatherer types complete with poisoned bows and arrows engaged in “atavistic” violence nor do we hear anything of substance from Kenya’s multi-ethnic elite. Where are the politicians?

Nor do the claims of genocide expressed by Kibaki and his coterie ring true. Kibaki has sat on the sidelines while Kikuyus were killed and did not seem to have any connection with people he addressed recently, when he left the confines of State house and traveled to Rift Valley Province. When he was telling the people to send their kids back to school, they shouted out, “What schools!” because their schools had been burnt down. In the meantime, their homes were burning behind the platform on which he spoke!

And who can touch the swiss bank-accounts of the Moi’s of this world let alone torch them?

Raila Odinga in a BBC Hard Talk interview, laughingly compared Kenyan violence to “spontaneous” violence seen in British football grounds. Odinga, just to let you know, football violence is organized.

There is a fear in Kenya among the middle-class that such naming and shaming will lead to a Rwandan style genocide in which people will be inspired to take up revenge attacks. Odinga has painted Kikuyu’s as the hated other. It is a strange situation because, it seems to me, he did not calculate his campaign would bring him to this point of self-reckoning, therefore I wonder about his motivation, his ideology, his theory.

Bourgeois sensibilities.

There is no difference between poor Kalenjins, poor Kikuyus and poor Luos but ethnic rivalries have been exacerbated for political gain.

Some 36% of Kenya’s GDP output is owned by Kenyans. So comprador journalism is de rigeur. Comprador journalists scoff at attempts to analyse the situation. What is there to analyse? It’s tribal innit? Kenyan voices of concern they describe as “shrill.” They leave safe compounds to photograph Kibera and there they see trouble makers and wonder at whether live bullets are being used on those who are filling the morgues. They file reports and then return to the safety of their compounds.

For the Kalenjin grievances are based on land which have been fanned by Kalenjin leaders. Previous elections have seen violence erupt and Kikuyus lives and livelihoods destroyed. This has only opened the way for the land to fall into the ownership of Kenya’s Kalenjin elite to parcel out to loyalists and hangers-on.

We should switch from talking about a politcal elite to talking about a criminal elite.

Such disputes over land have serious consequences for all Kenyans. Previous disputes led to farmers fleeing for their lives which affected production of food in a region which has historically been the food basket of Kenya. Famine followed.

Dialogue between the Odinga and Kibaki will not heal the wounds that have opened between communities who have lived side by side for decades. However, peace-making at community level is where we should be focusing attention.

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