Naturally I am very upset by the violence that is occurring in Kenya even as I am writing this post. I am disgusted, however, by the sweeping judgments "my fellow Americans" are making about the situation. In response to an article on ABC news were written comments such as "Africans are savages" and "African countries should be ruled by America and Britain" and "Are you surprised this happened?"
I am so tired of hearing this type of bullshit from ignorant people who have never been to Africa yet still feel qualified to make broad sweeping judgments about the political situation there. Even more frustrating are the people who think of Kenya as a white man's playground and commented that they hope the violence did spill over and affect the animals. WHAT THE F*CK?!
Here's my take on it, from someone who was IN KENYA a few weeks after the '02 elections. The current government is corrupt. People wanted a change, and the incumbent was declared the winner amongst speculation that election was rigged. The people who wanted a change got pissed. Those who were most pissed were those backing the opposition, a member of the Luo tribe, and in response, they are attacking those who are members of the current ruling tribe, the Kikuyu. It is not a deeply ingrained ethnic cleansing akin to the '94 Rwandan genocide, it is a violent uprising in response to deeply rooted political and economic distress. Kenyans are not savages, they are simply unhappy. We as Americans have a hard time understanding their reasoning because we've had election set-up speculation in our own country and didn't react violently. The thing is, Kenyans endured the ruling of a single man, Daniel Arap Moi for 30 years and their country did not progress forward and became incredibly corrupt. Though elections were held, Moi seemed unmovable. The election of Kibaki in '02 marked a huge change for democratic rule in Kenya, and I believe that people expect to have more power. If they're dissatisfied with Kibaki, and the majority is dissatisfied with Kibaki, they feel as though it's their right as a democratic nation to elect a new man fairly, and honestly, and it is clear that some Kenyans believe that this process occurred neither fairly nor honestly, and in fear of another semi-dictatorship, people are reacting.
In terms of the violence, a lot of it is occurring in Kibera and Mathare, two massive slums. Who knows what the candidates promised the poor. Could this be a reaction to a deep-rooted long-running feeling of dissent that has always run through that slum? Let me tell you, if I lived there, I'd be pissed off too, and if the opposition party offered me a chance for change and then the election was set up, who knows how I'd react? I'm not condoning violence or killing, that is wrong, totally wrong, but when the only life you've ever known is that of cardboard walls and a corrugated tin roof, who the f*ck knows how you'd react? You've never had the privilege of running water, never mind an education, maybe violence is the only way you've ever known.
I hope Americans get their heads out of their asses and see what's happening hear and put their minds to doing something effective, or just giving a sh*t about Africa. It's a continent full of great potential the western Europe and America completely ruined and then abandoned it, leaving it to its own devices. If people in powerful countries started caring, who knows what type of world in which we may have the privilege of living.
Phew. That being said, I did send off a quick email to my friend Mboya, whose sister I've been sending to school (ahem, education=positive thing for Africa=educated citizens=democratic lifestyle=rise from poverty=freedom from corruption= well, you get it) because I am obviously concerned about him and his sister, though the violence seems localized to slums and kisumu.
He wrote this in response:
Hi, my friend.
Its very true that things have been very bad for the last five days AFTER THE ELECTION, But it seems that they are calm, although lots of people lost their lives in this violence and very innocent ones. BUT ALSO I THINK the new government is planning to meet with the opposition leader to do something just because of the Kenyan people so that they conciliate and recount the totals again, so am not sure what will happen after that, but people are patient
waiting .people who have been killed so far is 147 in the country.
The other thing please don't worry we are all fine ,the whole family hoping this violence is going to to go down,Right now am not on my job at till Thursday this week,whereby i hope we will be able to resume it cause of what happening. well i wish you a happy new year with better thinks and Gods blessing,
HOPE YOU HAD A MARRY CHRIST MAS.
TALK TO YOU SOON AND I THANK YOU AGAIN FOR REMEMBERING MY FAMILY , ESPECIALLY DURING THIS TIME OF MISCOMFORT AND VIOLENCE IN KENYA, GOD BLESS YOU.
So there it is from the mouth (hands) of a Kenyan man. I ask anyone reading this post and interested in the issue going on in Kenya to STOP reading our news (yep, even the holier than thou NY Times) and get your news from AllAfrica.com. I realize that not everyone will agree with my view of this issue, but make up your own by getting something that I feel is a little more accurate than the bullsh*t they're feeding you here. Thanks and Happy New Year.