Wednesday, January 02, 2008

scattered thoughts about kenya

i keep wondering whether the violence in kenya will burn itself out soon, or whether it will spin further out of control. kenya has a history of election-triggered ethnic violence. when i was in kenya in the mid-1990s it was kikuyu-kalenjin violence. now it's largely kikuyu-luo violence. it all seems to depend on the ethnic affiliation of the politicians/parties in the event that sparks the violence.

but i don't think the kikuyu-kaenjin violence was ever this bad. my family has some connection to kenya, all through my brother (who used to live in nairobi). it's really hard to watch this kind of thing happen there. plus, my brother is returning to kenya for his annual visit this week, with my sister planning to follow him a week later.

i got an email from a kenyan friend this morning. i had sent him a congratulatory note last week, after the election but before the presidential result triggered the violence. or at least before news of the riots made it to me. i got his response today and it didn't mention the violence at all. i'm hoping that's a good sign.

although the apparent fraudulent presidential race is what triggered the violence, kenya's parliament was also up for grabs last week. the opposition had a sweeping victory in those races. so while kibaki seems to have used fraud to cling to the presidency, even if it works he's still facing a hostile parliament. plus, he's lost most of his cabinet. in kenya, cabinet members are MPs and most of kibaki's people seem to have lost their seats. it really comes down to how they are willing to take this. with all the civil unrest there, i wonder if the new parliament will actually get seated.