19 burned to death in kenya

Sunday saw the most ghastly violence over the last one week in Kenya’s Rift Valley province. A group of 19, most of them school children were burnt to death in a house in the town of Naivasha as ethnic violence continued in this former oasis of peace and stability. The authorities and politicians seem to be unable to stop or even control the continuing violence. Their calls for calm have been met with deaf ears as more people continue to die in attacks and revenge attacks through most of the central Rift Valley region.

The latest attack brought grim memories of the Eldoret arson attack that left 50 dead, again most of them being children. And as this happened, the politicians – the root causes of the violence – could do nothing but continue to exchange accusations, pointing fingers at each other for being responsible for the killings.

The Rift Valley has seen the worst violence in the last month since the disputed December elections that plunged Kenya into chaos. The military has been deployed in the area, curfews imposed but all this seems to have not changed much. Angry youth, wielding all manner of crude weapons still roam the countryside, burning people’s houses and killing perceived enemies.

2 thoughts on “19 burned to death in kenya

  1. Its deplorable how Raila and KIbaki keep blaming each other while Kenyans perish. For people who are thirsty to be world leaders its pretty idiotic. Three weeks ago, Raila never came out as strongly to decry the killing of Kikuyus by others in the Rift Valley but now the Kikuyus are taking revenge he sees evil. By no means am I justifying the violence by any Kenyan upon another but for a leader, it seems to me he wants to lead only partially. Kibakis government is not offering sufficient protection to its people and are therefore to blame for the gangs who are taking the law in their own hands. Both are underserving of the attention and respect we gave them through our votes and now through our lives. I suggest we go for a re-election and fire the whole lot from their positions of dishonour. Its selfish and unfair that Kenya a multi-pillared country will be brought down by semi-literate politicians driven by their egos and thirst for power. Kenyans by now should sit back and see what they have lost and stand to lose. We can work through our socio-economic murk in other smarter ways. Violence breeds only losses.

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  2. Though the Kenyan crisis is rapidly morphing into ‘tribal war’, the fundamentally underpinnings are much deeper than tribe, land race or a stolen election, they are merely symptoms of a much more intractable malady that the government and the wealthy minorities ignore at their peril. We are witnessing the collective response of ‘a million angry young jobless men’

    The crisis in Kenya has 
been a long time coming, but the factors have been in place for many years. What we are witnessing is a concatenation of events, most beyond the
control of Kibaki, Odinga or any current leader: Here are a few:



    Ever-increasing population pressure ( 9m to 30m in 45 years)


    Over 80% of the population squeezed onto less than 10% of the land ( 80% of Kenya is arid or semi-arid land)

    A very young population (the average age is just 18 years)


    An economy that cannot keep pace with population growth

    And particularly with the
    
Rising expectations of the rural and urban young, particularly the educated young


    Ever-increasing Urbanization

    A yawning chasm between the rich and the poor


    A leadership that shamelessly misappropriates the nation’s resources
 and exploits the poor, primarily through promoting tribal differences


    Endemic corruption at every level of society

    The result, a huge population of young people whose relatively simple
 expectations, the dignity of a job and some disposable income to buy
 the odd Tusker beer, watch the Premier League on TV and maybe one day buy an old Toyota, appear to be receding with each passing day. Long-term
sustainable improvement in the quality of their lives, is no more than
 development jargon



    There is an unknown number of young men without jobs in Kenya. Thirty years of military experience and six years in humanitarian aid work in 
Africa has convinced me the most dangerous creature on Earth is a 
young man without a job. This is as true of Newcastle, New Orleans and
Najaf as it is Nairobi. It is the dignity and sense of purpose that is 
as important as the salary. Men without jobs view themselves as 
outside society, disenfranchised and owing nothing to their community 
or society in general.

    Not only do they [ most young Kenyans] not have a job, there is little hope of ever finding 
one. They do their best to find some means of ‘income generation’
-selling puppies, songbirds, sunglasses and mobile telephone 
paraphernalia, filling in potholes [and then digging them out again]
and general panhandling – only to have their noses rubbed in the mud
 daily by sneering Wabenzi and patronizing Muzungu in their SUVs.
Moreover, though tourism is a vital part of the economy it also enables poor Kenyans who come in contact with tourists ( and for that 
matter immigrant Europeans and Asians, expats in NGOs, missionaries 
and the UN) to see ‘how the other half live’ and to contrast their own lives and prospects.

    These hugely angry young men are
 fertile ground for the seeds of anarchy and social upheaval. The 
portent to this storm has long been obvious in the high levels of
 violent crime endemic to the country, not for nothing is Nairobi known as ‘Nairobbery’. The rise of the secret and violent Kikuyu sect,
Mungiki and its mirror organization, the Kalenjin Warriors, were also a
 harbingers of terror to come.



    Complacent, comfortable institutions like the UN, other International Organizations and NGOs have ignored the gathering clouds and offered
 no more than to help Kenya rearrange the deckchairs on their personal Titanic.
 Who knows how many millions have been spent on sensitization workshops
and ‘income generating activities’.

    Even through the narrow prism of the TV camera, it is clear to see
 that the majority of those committing acts of violence in this civil
 upheaval, are young men, of every and any tribal and political affiliation. Their only common denominators are anger, frustration and
 poverty. They have nothing so they have nothing to lose and are 
focused on destroying all and everything, I suggest this is classic 
nihilism. You may wish to consider Frantz Fanon’s, in The Wretched of the Earth, as a model for what is going on. What we are 
witnessing in Kibera and Nakuru, he describes as ‘catharsis through
 violence’.


    It is mendacious and misleading for observers to imply that this social conflict is solely about Kikuyu- Luo/minority tribal enmity and land ownership. Though 
tribal differences have always been a strong feature of Kenyan society and are being used to drive up the horror this crisis, the issues are far more complex. If it is all about tribe then what how does it explain the fact that Ex-President Moi, one of
Kibaki’s closest advisers and both Moi’s sons and the long-time ‘enforcer’ for the for the Mount Kenya mafia, Simon Biwot, all deposed
from their Parliamentary seats, in this election, are of the Kalenjin
 tribe. It is groups of young Kalenjin men, the so-called Kalenjin
Warriors who have been accused of putting the Kikuyu to the sword. If this was simply tribalism, Kibaki would surely have pressured Moi and the Kalenjin leaders to intervene.

Blaming yesterday’s colonialism and today’s tribalism is to suggest that Kenyan’s, both the leadership and the people, have no responsibility for current events and no control over their futures, that it is their inexorable destiny. No amount of blaming the past can excuse the appalling leadership of today. This is the soft bigotry of low expectations.

    The failure of political leadership and the apathy of the the comfortably off educated (and employed) middle classes have allowed the situation to deteriorate to where we are now.
    What happens next?
    I will guess that the Army will be called out to restore law and order ( but not before Kibaki makes them some big promises about a return to the rule of law and the Constitution) My knowledge of the Kenyan Army give me huge respect for them as being well above the corrupt politics of the country.
    There will be a compromise government between K and O. Both far removed from reality, rich as Croesus and totally self-absorbed.
    The level of violence will reduce to an ‘acceptable level’
    And the anger will simmer and grow……….
    A world of this magnitude of inequality is inherently unstable. Peace is in the palm of the devil – Fouad Ajami

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