Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Things fall apart

This essay is part of an occasional feature on this blog that presents interesting stories from elsewhere in the world, particularly Africa, that are little reported in the American media. It's part of my campaign to get people to realize there is a lot going on in the world outside the US, Israel, Iraq, North Korea and Iran.

There's one thing that's become eminently clear during the last few days: neither Mwai Kibaki nor Raila Odinga deserved to serve as dogcatcher, let alone president of the Republic of Kenya.

Over 300 people have been killed in post-election violence. And the toll mounts daily.

Odinga and his party accused Kibaki, the incumbent, of stealing the election. Kibaki's light-speed inauguration to pre-empt legal challenges only gave further credence to the accusations that his 'victory' was a fraud.

Odinga and his followers were little better. Odinga chose to inflame the already volatile situation by comparing the election to the rape of Kenyans. Meanwhile, his supporters did something far worse: they torched a church where dozens of suspected Kibaki supporters had taken shelter. 30 people were killed in the blaze.

The massacre brought back eerie memories of the genocide in nearby Rwanda, where such atrocities were frequent.

The two parties traded charges of genocide.

Certainly, the election should be re-run. As National Public Radio noted:

The head of the country's electoral commission, Samuel Kivuitu, said he had been pressured by both sides to announce the results quickly - and perhaps wrongly. The country's oldest newspaper, The Standard, on Wednesday quoted Kivuitu as saying, "I do not know whether Kibaki won the election."

But that is no excuse for plunging the country toward the abyss.

The ethnic communities have lived in peace with each other for decades. Intermarriages are common. The only time there's ever been any problems have been during elections. They've been repeatedly betrayed by their misleaders.

Nearly every country that borders Kenya (Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia) has suffered through brutal civil war and/or genocide in the last quarter century. Despite these cautionary lessons, Kibaki and Odinga seem far too eager to risk this horror in order to get/keep the intoxicating drug called power.

And sadly, far too many of their fellow citizens seem willing to kill and die for these 'men' who have shown beyond any shadow of a doubt that they are traitors to the Kenyan nation.


Mark said...

Both men refuse to talk to the other, and Odinga still wants to hold that rally in Nairobi. I fear the bodies will keep piling up. International pressure needs to be increased.

Renegade Eye said...

Really good post.

Not many bloggers are dealing with obviously such an important issue.

PCS said...

An African once told me that Africans love visitors and tourists but hate each other.

Brian said...

PCS: I lived there for two years and while the first part is absolutely true (at least about visitors, not sure about tourists), I'm not sure I'd concur with the second. I will say that, and I know this is a broad generalization, Africans tend put far too much faith in political leaders that don't deserve it. Perhaps it's due to lack of alternatives.