With all of the evil going on in Kenya, Kenyans still have a point of national pride they want to celebrate.
Too bad that it hasn't made them stop slaughtering each other.
With all of the evil going on in Kenya, Kenyans still have a point of national pride they want to celebrate.
Too bad that it hasn't made them stop slaughtering each other.
I've certainly read the rumors of Odinga being a Muslim and about his alleged intention to impose Sharia law on Kenya upon ascending to the presidency since I've been paying attention to the turmoil in that country. Okay, Kenyans. Is this agreement authentic?
(Thanks to Atlas Shrugs, who sees something sinister in Senator Obama having met with a prominent political leader who knew his dead father. )
UPDATE: Odinga rejects a 'national unity government' in spite of the intervention of the US and of retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Tutu’s peace mission to Kenya last week was hampered by haggling by both warring parties over the conditions for negotiations.
Kibaki said his government was open to forming a coalition government with Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement only if Odinga accepted that there was a governing authority.
Odinga assured Tutu last week that he would enter into negotiations with Kibaki to form a unity government
But Tutu’s efforts to broker a deal came to nothing yesterday when Odinga rejected Kibaki’s offer to form a government of national unity.
Odinga said his party would be willing to enter into negotiations with Kibaki’s Party of National Unity only it were regarded as an equal. [SNIP]
Odinga said he should be the one offering Kibaki a role in a unity government.UPDATED: And the evil continues...a possible and predictable backlash.
He said: “It is an insult for him [Kibaki] to call us to join the government of national unity.
More than two dozen Kenyan civil organizations say police have taken to using extraordinary force, and in some cases carried out extrajudicial executions, in the face of riots sparked by anger over alleged election fraud. Police deny the accusations.The allegation is that police who are Kikuyu are taking their revenge on Odinga supporters, Luo and otherwise.
My father--an extremely logical and political thinker—can’t quite wrap his mind around the thought process pushing some of his countrymen, his kinsmen to murder their neighbors.
Those who have plunged our country into this humanitarian catastrophe — the Electoral Commission of Kenya — have practically admitted [their perfidy]. [SNIP]I may not know much about the particulars of the situation but I do know that evil has no logic. And that absence is a logic unto itself.
If you have killed any Kenyan on account of his [shared] ethnic identity with the individuals who may have stolen your votes — if you have burned his house or looted his shop — you have committed an unspeakable crime against a compatriot who has nothing whatsoever to do with your political agony.
And what you have done is completely futile.
Meanwhile, after meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, President Kibaki agreed to a "national unity government" (don't ask me). Odinga is willing to negotiate terms on this type of government but still demands that Kibaki step down as president.
(Note: This missive is set to post automatically on Sunday at 6:00 AM US-PST)
In a brief, clear overview on how the situation in Kenya "started" and began to degenerate, Travis Kavulla, an Africa expert who is undoubtedly viewing the situation up close, answers the question that I’ve been asking of Kenyans for a couple of days. That question was this: why won’t Odinga and Kibaki stand together and call for an end to the violence?
For that first night after the polls closed, things were quiet, results barely trickling in. People graciously understood the delay: Kenya is a big place, and counting is a slow process. Counting stretched overnight, and then well into a second day. People began to get tense; shops closed, hotels barred their doors at night and encouraged their patrons not to go onto the streets. By the late hours of the night Odinga, the opposition candidate, had taken a formidable lead and his supporters on one hand rejoiced and the on the other became worried that the official results had not been announced. Confronted with this anxiety from all quarters, the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) professed ignorance and confessed that the Returning Officers of some two dozen constituencies--those officials, in the British system, who solely have the power to announce results from an area --had gone missing for the better part of the day, one of them last seen by European observers saying he was “too tired” to announce his area’s presidential results after he had concluded reading the returns of the municipal government. The ECK announced that it would make no more announcements until the following day.
By the next morning, on December 30, the streets of Nairobi had become no-go areas because of skirmishing between the police and “the youth”--the euphemism used to describe those men of all ages whose misbehavior is condoned and even encouraged by party operators when things don’t go their way, the youth’s pay being whatever can be looted.[SNIP]
The police tried limply to impose order on the first day, but now behave more or less as a party to the conflict, avenging with torture and death those, and the relatives and friends of those, who bring harm to an officer. In any case, their presence is slender, and the real heavy work is being left to the Mungiki, a Kikuyu gang with ruling-party political connections that fancies itself a latter-day incarnation of the Mau Mau insurgents, who hacked to death whole families in the 1950s for the cause of self-rule. As in the usual course of things, the Mungiki comprise mere thugs extracting protection money from bus operators and small businessmen in the slums; but their misbehavior is overlooked by many a Kikuyu politician so that at special occasions they may be called upon, as now, to quiet --their preferred method is beheading --querulous supporters of the opposition party. A rival [Luo] gang, called the Taliban [yes], performs the same service for other parties.(Internal links and all emphasis mine.)
Meanwhile, my father remains fine, as his Saturday column--an English grammar column dubbed “Mark My Word”--appeared on schedule yesterday. His Sunday column--"The Fifth Column” (yes)--usually has a political slant to it and, usually, he keeps the two subject separated. This week, however, Pops uses the situation in his country to make grammatical points about the difference between metaphorical and literal references.
President Kibaki’s victory was not a landslide. Nevertheless, the elections produced landslides in Parliament and the Cabinet. Such, however, are metaphorical, not literal, phenomena.On December 23--before the election--my father had publicly announced his intention not to vote in “pox on both their houses” column.
A literal landslide is an environmental occurrence--the slip, usually occasioned by a heavy rain, of a great mass of earth down a mountain or other high ground. But language can borrow a phrase from one situation and apply it to another which does not literally or naturally belong to it by imputing an identity to the two.
The secret is that I will not vote on Thursday. But let me not discourage you. Do use your “democratic right” to enter the ballot kiosk. My only warning is the usual one. Do not vote with any illusion because, if you do, your disappointment will be profound. [SNIP]His cynicism appears to have been well-placed. The politics column will appear at 2:00PM today, my time (PST).
We have suffered this ritualised masochism for so long that we no longer even feel the pain. With murderous enthusiasm that puts the Aztecs in the shade, we participate, every so often, in the bloodbath of electing those who are to skin us alive for the next five years.
A soldier/blogger--one loved and respected by the Left and the Right--dies in battle--and gets the last word.
I do ask (not that I'm in a position to enforce this) that no one try to use my death to further their political purposes. I went to Iraq and did what I did for my reasons, not yours. My life isn't a chit to be used to bludgeon people to silence on either side. If you think the U.S. should stay in Iraq, don't drag me into it by claiming that somehow my death demands us staying in Iraq. If you think the U.S. ought to get out tomorrow, don't cite my name as an example of someone's life who was wasted by our mission in Iraq. I have my own opinions about what we should do about Iraq, but since I'm not around to expound on them I'd prefer others not try and use me as some kind of moral capital to support a position I probably didn't support. Further, this is tough enough on my family without their having to see my picture being used in some rally or my name being cited for some political purpose. You can fight political battles without hurting my family, and I'd prefer that you did so.Nothing here but gratitude, a salute and prayer.
Jonah Goldberg predicts that if the Democrats rally around Obama and he loses the nomination that
certain segments of American political life will become completely unhingedand that
teeth shall be gnashed, clothes rent and prices paid.Is Jonah forecasting a nutroots riot? ;-) Talk about tribalism!
Or maybe he was talking about something else.
(Thanks to Hot Air)
I’m getting lots of Google hits using the key words “Senator Obama” and “Koran.” I would assume that searchers are looking for the rumored evidence that the senator—who won the Iowa Democrat Caucus yesterday (more about that in a bit)—swore his senate oath on a Koran rather than on a Bible. So let me help those searchers out by making the following statement:
You’re confusing your light-skinned black American dudes of the legislative branch of US government who have had some ties to Islam at some point in their lives. Okay, let me be more specific:
Tavia Nyong'o of Kenya Patriot points out that I don’t appear to have any on-the-ground experience in Kenya. Well, we knew that already, didn’t we?
However, when someone points out a deficiency, having a solution at hand is the best of all conditions—even if that solution has already been suggested. In response to my post, “Slaughter Postponed,” Tavia points to an excellent on-the-ground chronicle and pictorial of what happened yesterday in Nairobi, where slaughter was, indeed, postponed.
I still would like to know if any Kenyans have an opinion they'd like to share regarding the question asked here yesterday.
UPDATE: At Thinker's Room--a blog run by a person "manufactured and bottled in Kenya"--a two-part analysis of the situation. Additionally, the is an update containing the finer points of President Kibaki's speech. From what I gather, there was still no straight forward plea the stop the violence. Again, Kenyans, tell us why not.
UPDATE: Reports of a new rally today.
Kenyan police yesterday blocked a fresh opposition rally in Nairobi after the main rally that had been scheduled for Thursday at the Uhuru grounds was dispersed by police.
Earlier reports had, however, indicated that the rally would take place on Tuesday next week but the opposition said they would press on with the rally on Friday.
Thousands of police in Kenya were deployed around Nairobi, to prevent another opposition rally. However, reports coming out of Nairobi indicated that enthusiasm for the protest has waned in the slum areas. [SNIP]
By afternoon, there were big crowds gathering, according to the BBC. Several hundred youths gathered outside the offices of defeated presidential candidate Raila Odinga's ODM party in Nairobi, saying they intend to press ahead with their planned protest. But other opposition supporters have been telling the media they do not want to be beaten up. Police were again on patrol around Uhuru Park - although reports show that they were fewer than on Thursday, suggesting a much calmer atmosphere.
The things one finds out when saturated with news of possible genocide! Guess who was one of Raila Odinga's campaign advisers.
UPDATE: Hey Kenyans! I know that there are at least a few of you reading, so I have a question to ask. Why don't the two leaders--especially Odinga--stand up and tell their constituents to cease and desist with the violence? I have some ideas about why not, ideas formed from my occasional reading in the past and my marathon reading in the last few days. However, instead of me--an American--telling you about your own country, how about you telling me?
And we all need some laughs, here's Chris Rock in his stand-up routine in NYC on New Year's Eve talking about Barack Obama
Bush [bleeped] up so bad, now people are like, 'We don't want another white guy in the White House' . . . but Barack don't realize he's the black candidate, talking in measured tones like he does.and Hillary Clinton:
I think America's ready for a woman president . . . just not that woman. Being married to somebody doesn't make you good at their job. I've been with my wife 10 years now. If she got up here right now, y'all wouldn't laugh. At all. You get on a plane tomorrow, you want the pilot's wife flying you?(Thanks to Karl at Protein Wisdom who sums things up quite nicely.)
NAIROBI, KENYA -- Kenya's opposition today postponed its banned "million-man march," called to protest claimed rigging in the country's presidential elections, as tribal violence and tit-for-tat ethnic killings continued.Thank God that there was no rally.
Kenyan riot police had earlier fired tear gas and water cannons at thousands of opposition protesters waving branches and white cloths, stopping them from marching to the banned rally at a city park. [SNIP]
From early morning until Odinga called off the rally mid-afternoon, a line of heavily armed riot police blocked the demonstrators, mostly ethnic Luos, in the slum area of Kibera, home to about 1 million people.
However, there's this chilling "interview."
Some of the protesters insisted their actions today were peaceful, but most were angry, frustrated and full of venom for Kikuyus. Some, like one young protester named Gabriel Okelo, threatened to keep on killing Kikuyus until Kibaki steps down.When I changed the URL of this blog 'Luo American,' I was proud of my (dual) heritage. Monsters like this one me ashamed of it.
"We are slaughtering them and we will keep on slaughtering them," said Okelo, who got up at 6 a.m. and walked nine miles from the outskirts of the city to march in support of Odinga.
Okelo said he killed two people with a machete for the first time Wednesday because, "when you are angry, it's easy. If they refuse our president, Raila Odinga to address the rally, it will happen again. We shall slaughter the Kikuyus. It will go on and on and on, in all parts of the country."
A new-to-me blogger called The White African has an extensive list of bloggers following the situation, including some already featured here. Here are a few more and I will add as I read.
African Path: Kenya government rejects African Union mediation.
Shirel: Fasting, prayer, banners, buy mobile phone airtime for Kenyans.
Macharia Gaitho--Managing Editor, Special Projects at Kenya’s Daily Nation--seems just as nonplussed as the rest of the world at the sight of his country is exploding before his eyes while his leaders argue.
In this business I am consulted a great deal by foreign diplomats, journalists, representatives of international development organisations, NGO-types and others wanting my take on the prognosis for Kenya.
I have always told them that that despite the fiercely competitive politics that does not end at election time, Kenya will always remain a relatively stable, safe and secure place. Ahead of the polls many were quite worried about the prospects of post-election violence, especially if there was no clear winner. My opinion was that there would be the usual grumbling from the losers, maybe some scattered violence, but things would eventually return to normal and we would start advance politicking ahead of 2012.
I take back all the confidence I expressed about my country. I was naïve and shortsighted, and failed to recognise that President Kibaki would not care about taking the oath of office while standing on a pile of human bones or that Mr Raila Odinga would not mind staking his claim while swimming across a sea of blood.
It is indeed surreal that the two can be arguing over who won the vote while around them rages a bloodletting that might do Pol Pot of the killing fields of Cambodia or the Interahamwe of the Rwanda genocide proud.But now Odinga has changed his mind and will negotiate with Kibaki.
Raila also said he was willing to participate in an interim government whose only purpose would be to prepare for a re-run of the presidential election.
"The interim government should last no more than three months," he said, adding that such a poll should be conducted by an independent body and not the ECK, which has been discredited as partisan and whose members are President Kibaki's appointees.Meanwhile the demonstration against Kibaki will go forward in spite of the Kenyan Police Commissioner’s admonition to his public.
Police Commissioner Hussein Ali has cautioned Kenyans against attending rallies called by politicians, warning that they would be arrested.
Major-General Ali outlawed a meeting called by ODM leaders at Uhuru Park on Thursday, citing the volatile security situation in the country. [SNIP]
Maj-Gen Ali warned: “Anybody inciting Kenyans into violence, engaging or procuring others to commit criminal offences will be dealt with according to the law without any exception,” he said.Admonition, threat or promise? Not much sleeping tonight.
View from A Mad Kenyan Woman:
We really cannot go on much longer with these protestations of horrified incomprehension when all along bloggers, intellectuals, human rights activists and my next-door-neighbour’s little girl have all been warning us of the dangers of ethnic fundamentalism. [SNIP]
I have been watching the television and listening to an interesting cross-section of our leaders and opinion makers: we all seem to think that unless Raila and Kibaki get together and make nice, the rest of us are doomed to go on senselessly butchering each other without fear or favour, no scratch that: with ultimate fear and delicately nuanced favour. Somewhere along the lines of: you-must-have-voted-for-the-person-I-did-not-want-to-win-so-die.Chaos in the Rift Valley....
"I have been deeply troubled by the recent news out of Kenya. The instability and tragic violence pose an urgent and dangerous threat to the people of Kenya, and to Kenyan democracy. My family’s thoughts and prayers go out to all who have suffered, and to the families of the victims.(Thanks to Swamp Politics)
"The Kenyan people have a proud history of supporting the growth of democracy in their country. Their thirst for democracy was on display in this most recent election, when they turned out to vote in record numbers, and in a peaceful and orderly way.
"Despite irregularities in the vote tabulation, now is not the time to throw that strong democracy away. Now is a time for President Kibaki, opposition leader Odinga, and all of Kenya’s leaders to call for calm, to come together, and to start a political process to address peacefully the controversies that divide them. Now is the time for this terrible violence to end.
"Kenya’s long democratic journey has at times been difficult. But at critical moments, Kenyans have chosen unity and progress over division and disaster. The way forward is not through violence – it is through democracy, and the rule of law. To all of Kenya’s people, I ask you to renew Kenya’s democratic tradition, and to seek your dreams in peace."
UPDATE: The Current State of Democracy in Kenya (very disturbing photos).
Kenya's Electoral Commission chairman admits to announcing the election results prematurely due to pressure.
(Thanks to Andrew Sullivan)
UPDATE: This communist blogger's take on things is very informative and would be kind of fun if the so many lives weren't a stake.
I have African siblings and American siblings. A little while ago, one of my African sisters characterized the situation in Kenya as a war, rather than "unrest." And that is just what it appears to be.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga [right] blames the president: "What is happening is genocide on a grand scale. We are seeing the security forces of [President Mwai] Kibaki shooting innocent civilians who are just expressing their democratic right of protest against the rigging of elections."
The government rejects that. President Kibaki's party spokesman George Nyamwea said the opposition should restrain its people and accept the result: "The elections are over. Our constitution says that once the electoral commission has declared the results, those are the results we accept. If we have any disputes, the normal way of resolving them is through petitioning the High Court."
Up to 100,000 people have been forced to flee by roaming gangs of vigilantes. The border posts with Uganda are besieged. The Red Cross has sent patrols to help recover bodies, while many terrified survivors head for the Ugandan border in the hope of escaping the killing.I’m sure I’m not the only one who has a bad feeling about a rally scheduled for tomorrow (today) in Nairobi.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for a million of his supporters to converge on Uhuru Park and anoint him the "people's president," to protest an election he claims was rigged by the incumbent, President Mwai Kibaki. Kibaki's government has banned the rally, and in the past few days security forces have not hesitated to shoot rioters dead on sight.Preventing another Rwanda.
"The only way to stop this is for [Kibaki] and [Odinga] to agree on a way forward," [Abdullah Ahmed] Nasir [political observer and former chair of the Law Society of Kenya] adds. "If they can agree to an interim government, and then hold elections again in one year's time, then all this could stop."
But getting these two men to agree will take international pressure, Nasir adds. "If Kibaki is pushed to talk, and if the international community can put pressure on Raila, they can agree to meet, and move toward a solution."
In an apparent olive branch to Odinga, Kibaki invited all members of the new opposition-dominated parliament to a meeting Wednesday at State House in Nairobi. But no opposition MPs attended as Odinga demanded outside mediation.For the tribalists, it's time to settle the old beefs. Imagine if Bush v. Gore had been resolved in this manner.
If Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) wants to use his Kenya Luo heritage as a force for good I’d say that he has an opportunity here.
I’m looking forward to next Wednesday. Aren’t you? Sure you are because that is the day when both the Iowa Caucuses (doesn’t the word ‘caucus’ have sort of a hive-ish connotation to it?) and the New Hampshire Primaries will be over and both parties will have a better idea of what will be on the plate in the General. Whoever the two candidates are, however, we seem to have few to no outstanding candidates on either side and, in the cases Senator Hillary Clinton’s (D-NY) and Former Governor Michael Huckabee’s (R-AR), some frightening ones. Between the former’s willful ignorance on the basic facts of the Pakistan situation (among other deficiencies) and the latter’s (ab)use of Christianity as cover for his decidedly non-conservative record, I’d say that these two must be actively opposed.
On the bright side, even if one of these people becomes president/vice president, I’ll still be happy to be American and not Pakistani or Kenyan.
Pakistan isn’t the only country experiencing political violence at the start of the New Year.
A mob torched a church sheltering hundreds of people fleeing election violence Tuesday, killing up to 50 people — including many children — as four days of rioting and ethnic clashes marked one of the darkest times in Kenya's history.
President Mwai Kibaki, sworn in Sunday after a vote opponents said was rigged, said political parties should meet immediately and publicly call for calm. The violence has killed at least 270 people in what had been east Africa's most stable and prosperous democracy. The opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, said he would refuse to meet. [SNIP]
Violence erupted throughout Kenya, from the shantytowns of Nairobi to resort towns on the sweltering coast, exposing festering tribal resentments. Kibaki's Kikuyu people, Kenya's largest ethnic group, are accused of using their dominance of politics and business to the detriment of others.
Odinga is from the Luo tribe, a smaller but still major tribe. In the slums, which are often divided along tribal lines, rival groups have been going at each other with machetes and sticks, as police fire tear gas and live rounds to keep them from pouring into the city center.From Kenya's Daily Nation:
The United Nations has stepped into the impasse over Kenya’s presidential election results with calls to Kenyans to shun violence and leaders to urgently meet and work out a solution.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon deplored the loss of human lives in the country - so far estimated at over 150 - after Sunday’s announcement of the election results and directed that peaceful means be embraced in resolving the dispute.We'll see what "stepping in" really means.
I haven’t heard from my father—Philip Ochieng--since events came to a head. I’ll let you know when I do. We are Luos (obvious from the names—Ochieng, Odinga, Obama), but the fear is still there. Tribal violence has a tendency to escalate into a constant series of retaliatory strikes. Right, fellow Americans?
Please don’t let this be another Rwanda. More later.
UPDATE: My sister (not living in Kenya) talked to my father last night, so he was fine as of then. However, she characterized the situation in Kenya as a 'war.'