Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kenya - A view from the BBC reporter

Another reporter downplays the ethnic tribal violence in Kenya as the problem in Kenya and highlights the issue of poverty as the cause .

From this BBC article

Sadly the Western mind has been conditioned to accept a simplistic notion of what "tribal violence" really means: people driven to kill each other by irrational atavistic hatreds.
Now the expression is being used again to describe the crisis here in Kenya.
I wouldn't for a second try to deny that what happened in all the places described above involved some degree of ethnic motivation.
After witnessing at first hand the hatred of Hutu militiamen for Tutsi civilians in Rwanda I understand only too well how real or imagined ethnic difference can be whipped up by unscrupulous leaders...

...But the tribal issues are only the symptom. Go into the muddy, filthy lanes of Kibera and you find something approaching root causes.
I have spent the past few weeks warning people not to make facile comparisons with Rwanda, where up to a million people died in 100 days. That was a state-planned and executed genocide. What is happening in Kenya is nothing like that either in scale or intent.
But one thing did strike me as scarily familiar. This is a conflict in which the poor are set at one another's throats.

In Kibera it is a matter of degrees. Those who have nothing are looting those who have a little bit more.
More than 50% of the people who live in this slum are unemployed. It has a child mortality rate that is between five to seven times the national average. There are tens of thousands of AIDS orphans. And there is no proper water or sanitation or electricity. All this in a place with nearly a million people.......This population has seen successive governments rob billions from the public purse in well-documented scandal.
Add all this together and you get a sense of what might be driving the rage. It certainly isn't a simple issue of tribalism.

Ruth , a maid in Nairobi, was asked what her dream was. She didn't talk about a new president or democracy. Such things seemed abstract in her dark and claustrophobic home.
"I would love a water supply in my house," she said.
But you must know that is unlikely, I said.
Ruth laughed. "But I can pray," she replied.

The rebellion of the poor is something that's more pro-active than passively praying but still falls short of the political and class organising that is required to change prayers into social reality .

Another article from the BBC has this very telling quote abiut the clique around Kibake called the Mount Kenya Mafia [A circle of influential Kibaki friends include ex-Defence Minister Njenga Karume, Nairobi university chancellor Joe Wanjui, and big time investors Nat Kangethe, Joseph Kanyago and Nick Wanjohi. The multi-millionaires had vast business interests in commercial agriculture, real estate, tourism industry and transport industry.] :-
Political analyst Haroun Ndubi argues that their hardline political positions are intended to protect their economic gains.
"They have realised good profits during his rule and letting go to an individual they do not trust sends a chill down their spine,"

And from the streets comes this voice of resistance :-

" What frightens me is that I'll die of hunger...They have arms and are all dressed up in combat gear...All we have is stones. They have power. No-one even listens to us. My anger is really being driven by what the government is saying. They are ignoring the plight of us poor and unemployed. "

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