Monday, January 21, 2008


Last night I read this article in the New York Times about the continuing violence.

I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya from 1989-1991. Around the time that I was leaving, one party rule, then under Daniel arap Moi, was being seriously challenged, perhaps for the first time since independence. Moi's response was to claim that Kenyans in particular and Africans in general weren't ready for multi-party rule, that tribal allegiances were too strong, and that parties would end up aligning themselves on tribal lines. A series of violent raids, probably orchestrated or supported by Moi's government, suddenly occurred in the Rift Valley, mainly Kalenjin (Moi's tribe) and Maasai attacking Kikuyu. Moi pointed to these raids as evidence that the country needed his despotic rule to hold it together.

The Times article indicates that much of the recent post-election violence is similarly well organized, though this time not by the government, but by "local tribal chiefs" with possible involvement of the opposition.

Today I received an email from a fellow returned volunteer, forwarding a message from a friend in Kenya that must be making the rounds. It's a list of "10 REASONS WHY I LOVE KENYA", including
• I am sure Kenya must be the only country in the world where 95,000 votes are realized in constituencies with only 70,000 registered voters.


• Kenya is surely a country with a transport network that is simply unpredictable and just can't be explained. Sample this – results from Wajir, Funyula, Budalangi, Isiolo, and Lodwar [all remote spots in the semi-desert north of the country] take a just day to reach KICC Nairobi, yet results from Kiambaa (just past Muthaiga-Kiambu [just outside Nairobi]) take more than three consecutive days being transported to Nairobi.

So I'm torn. The election was probably stolen in a vicious and somewhat obvious way. (At least have butterfly ballots!) The way in which the police and army have put down post-election protests has been brutal. See this video if you can stomach it. Yet at least some of the anti-Kibaki opposition consists of organized killers, the same people who worked against democracy and multi-party government in the first place. It feels like Moi's prophesy of tribal divisions came true, which makes me sick to my stomach.

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About Me

I'm a biochemist at a small college.