WE ARE ALL KENYANS!

This violence that is racking Kenya serves Mwai Kibaki well but it has led to a group called Thagicu Renaissance Movement declaring him to be an enemy of the Kikuyu for sitting by and doing nothing to protect the Kikuyu community.

Kibaki, it seems, has calculated that by doing nothing and allowing opposition members to kill Kikuyus with impunity attention will move from the stolen election to the opposition’s violence, which the following article reminds us is politically motivated.

Kenyans must not allow themselves to be distracted by wild rumours that are circulating while the media ban is in place. They must also continue to keep their eyes on the fraud that has been perpetrated by Messrs Kibaki and co.

The Violence in Kenya Must Stop Now

Firoze Manji and Mukoma Wa Ngugi (2008-01-29)

Each people at some point in history are threatened by great social upheaval. It is usually an accumulation of smaller events, seen and ignored, an accumulation of injustices that erupt at that present moment – a delayed consequence from history.

Whether a nation plunges into bloodshed depends on the leadership and whether they have the political imagination to deal with history that has caught up with their present times.

So in the France of the 18th Century, the revolutionary leadership answered the civil war with the guillotine. In Rwanda the answer was the genocidaires machete and the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s gun. In the Congo, at the cost of over six million lives since 1994, the issue has as yet to be settled.

Kenya finds itself in such a decisive moment – the slide to a civil war along ethnic lines is in motion, but it has not yet accelerated to catch with up Rwanda – or indeed Bosnia and Serbia where ethnic ‘cleansing’ of populations was carried out. But the violence is getting a furious rhythm of revenge and counter revenge.

The small window history had left us, of past cooperation and anti-colonial resistance across ethnic lines, is closing fast.

Reports and documents we have received here at Pambazuka News indicate that the Gikuyu community is being galvanized, ostensibly to defend the Gikuyu community. At least two documents are currently circulating in Kenya and amongst the Kenyan diaspora that can be described only as hate literature.

One purporting to be the declaration of 500 supporters of GEMA in the UK incites Kikuyus to provide funds for the ‘war’. “… if you don’t join and register at this crucial time you are of no use to the community,” they threaten. Another document, purporting to come from the ‘The Thagicu Renaissance Movement’ names a host of human rights activists – including the head of the Kenyan National Commission for Human Rights – as ‘traitors’.

In their turn, a hate statement of a similar kind has been published by a group calling themselves ‘Kalenjin Online’ (http://geraldbaraza.blogspot.com/2008/01/ladies-and-gentlemen-gotab- kalenjin.html) state “We shall defend ourselves and our interests to the bitter end. If they [the Kikuyu] want to bring clashes to Nairobi, they can go ahead. They will regret why they ever started it in the first place. We urge our people to ensure that every family is fully equipped with our normal tools; if we can afford, ferry two warriors from upcountry fully armed and house them until we have this thing sorted out.” We have little doubt that similar hate literature from the Luo and other communities is also in circulation.

The intention of such groups is to stir up hatred and raise finances to support the carnage that has been perpetrated by the organized armed militia in several parts of the country. The western media – especially the BBC – has sought to portray this as ‘tribal violence’, neatly side-stepping the need to assess the political motives of who is behind the armed militia, who benefits from creating a climate of fear and distrust, and who are behind the distribution of the hate literature that is currently circulating from all sides.

But these are not ethnic clashes. These are acts of violence that are perpetrated by those who, devoid of any political solution to the crisis, reach for the ethnic card. But it isn’t all Kikuyus, or all Luos or all Kalenjins who have robbed others of their land or carried out massacres on each other. These crimes have been perpetrated by a minority who have reaped the fruits of land grabbing. This is no land reform program, but rather the incitement of hatred for political ends, and to allow a small elite to benefit. The fruits of Uhuru have long been enjoyed by that minority

But in the present crisis, nobody will win – not even the rich who so far have been spared from the bloodshed. But as in all conflicts, it is the poor who will do the killing and the dying.

One would expect leaders worth their people’s mandate to be using this space between ethnic killings and a full fledged civil war to provide a clear vision for the way forward and to speak to and beyond their immediate constituencies. But both Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga have hesitated instead of acting decisively, placing their self-interest before that of millions of their constituents. They have sought to use the crisis to maneuver better positions at the negotiation table. Both have been found wanting. Both claim victory in the presidential elections when it is abundantly clear that no one will ever know what the real result was.

If peace is to be restored, there is an urgent need for the militia to be forcibly disarmed. There is an urgent need for the GSU to be pulled off the streets, and for the police to be restrained from acting judge, jury and executioner with impunity. There is an urgent need to bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations. Lifting the ban on live media coverage is vital so that all citizens can know what is happening in the country.

And those responsible for the circulation of materials that incite ethnic hatred and conflict through hate radio; print media or the Internet should be immediately arrested and prosecuted. If either PNU or ODM were serious about the interests of the citizens of Kenya, these would be their immediate priorities. They would agree to the immediate formation of an interim government that would oversee the return to peace, disarming and bringing to account all those responsible for the crimes and carnage witnessed over the last month. But who will make them do this? Have we reached a level of humiliation that we are to be dependent on an outside force to intervene to sort out our mess?

It is clear that the interests of citizens, whatever their political or other affiliations, are far from the minds of the leadership of PNU or ODM or any other of the ‘paper parties’. Citizens cannot stand by idle waiting for divine inspiration to hit the skulls of the leaders. It is time that the voices of citizens are heard. Are we going to sit watching while the carnage continues? We face a challenge: if our so-called leaders are unable to point the way forward for a solution, then isn’t it time that we found a way to discuss, debate and achieve consensus on what future we want? We did so at the Bomas conference. We can do so again.

And that brings us to those many of us citizens in the diaspora – in Europe, USA and elsewhere. Are we going to add to the carnage by supporting those who have been circulating the kind of hate mail referred to above? Citizens in the diaspora have a critical role to play: we have duty of solidarity for all Kenyans, irrespective of their political beliefs, origins, cultural identity or creed.

Our solidarity has to go out to those who have been injured, who have been evicted from their homes violently or who have fled in fear, to those families who have lost members of their families. We must vociferously oppose those amongst us who are seeking to divide us. Our distance from vortex of the crisis should allow us to think about constructive ways forward that are built on a respect for human dignity and justice for all. We can play a role in bringing peace through justice and truth. Or we can add to the spiral into civil war.

To the international community and media, we say that you need to first and foremost understand that massacres against the Gikuyu, the Luo, the Kalenjin and others are politically motivated and pre-meditated acts of violence and terror. We have to name the problem correctly if we are to counter it. Calling the violence ‘tribal clashes’ only lends credibility to the genocadaires and gives their propaganda mileage. It sends the message to the aggrieved on all sides that there will be, and can be, no justice. It only strengthens the hands those who want to stir ethnic hatred for political ends.

If we are to move ahead, we have to proclaim out loud: WE ARE ALL KENYANS. AND THE FUTURE BELONGS EQUALLY TO ALL OF US!

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