Monday, February 4, 2008

AGLI report February 4

February 4

Ancient Tribal Hatreds

As I indicated in a previous report, most of the international reporting about Kenya is based on the assumption that "ancient tribal hatreds" explains what is going on. Evidence which does not fit into this framework is ignored. Let me give some examples.

A Luhya woman from Lumakanda Friends Church is hiding a Kikuyu woman who gave birth on Dec 30 when the violence started. I know a Luo (who are supposed to "hate" Kikuyu) whose brother is hiding a Kikuyu in his house. I have never seen an interview with anyone who is doing this, even in the local Kenyan press.

3000 people in Kibaki's home constituency in the center of Kikuyuland voted for Raila. There were 7 other candidates to vote for including other Kikuyu if they didn't want vote for Kibaki. Raila continually says (but its never reported in the international press) that a lot of Kikuyu voted for him.

There is a hit list out with 25 Kikuyu who have "betrayed their tribe." They are the human rights advocates and leaders of NGO's who have criticized the government over the election tallying, the use of live bullets, the restrictions on press freedom, and, the right to hold demonstrations. In other words, some of the most vocal critics of what is happening are Kikuyu. Some of the violence in Naivasha was Kikuyu gangs fighting other Kikuyu gangs. Since this does not fit in -- it has been ignored.

There are large areas of Western Province (perhaps over half of the area) and possibly also parts of Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces, but I don't have as much information about those regions, where the Kikuyu have not been forced out, their houses and shops have not been looted and burned, and they are still living peacefully with their neighbors.

Many non-Kikuyu have been in the forefront of visiting and bringing relief to those Kikuyu in IDP camps. The Red Cross volunteers who were helping at Lumakanda were mostly local Luhya.

I have heard one sermon and heard reports of other sermons that a good Christian does not loot, destroy, and/or kill ANYONE.

One can explain both WWI and WWII as "old tribal hatreds" between the Germans and the French/English. From before 1066 to 1914 European history can be explained as "ancient tribal hatreds" between the English and French. As you can see, this doesn't explain anything, but rather is an excuse to avoid delving more deeply into root causes of conflict. So when you see articles about ethnic animosities (to use the current more polite term) in Kenya, please realize that you are being served only icing.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262

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