Kenya’s economy is growing at 5.9%. It is a frontier economy of 46 million with lots of opportunities for investment in sectors as diverse as tech, infrastructure, agribusiness, and light manufacturing. Kenya is also a gateway to the wider Eastern Africa region, with a market of about 120 million.
But if you are not a potential investor and just want to visit, here are some pictures to help you along…
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg visited Nairobi this week for business. He also found time to visit Lake Naivasha, a quick two hour “safari lite” destination to the northwest of Nairobi. The best thing about Nairobi is that it is the only city in the world with a national park (not a zoo) within city limits. Zuckerberg could have gone for a game drive in Nairobi, if he wanted to. The pictures were posted on Zuckerberg’s Facebook account.
The Kenyan cabinet yesterday decided not to set up a local tribunal to try those who organized the targeted killings of people who spoke certain languages (but lived in the “wrong” places) after the bungled general elections of late 2007. Instead, in an effort to assuage the fears of a hostile parliament, the president and his cabinet decided to clean up the police force and the judiciary and have these organs try the said suspects. Yeah right.
My doubts of the cabinet’s intentions are premised on the fact that reforming the police force and the judiciary will not take a few months. The police force is the most corrupt institution in this country. Reforming it will take years. Same with the judiciary. If we are to wait for the police and judges to stop taking bribes and begin respecting the rule of law before we initiate the prosecution process then we might as well forget about the whole thing.
I remain deeply skeptical of President Kibaki’s commitment to making sure that those who organized the killing of more than 1300 Kenyans be brought to book. If he really means what he said yesterday then he should begin by firing Attorney General Amos Wako. This is a man who has been in that position through the tortures of the Moi era, the killings that preceded the 1997 general elections, and a myriad corruption scandals (including the mother of all, Goldenberg) without ever bringing any prominent player to book. Mr. Wako has been as effective as a parachute that deploys on the second bounce and should be shown the door, no questions asked.
It was always going to be difficult to bring the oafish ethnic chiefs masquerading as patriots to book. Yesterday was a stark reminder to all Kenyans that justice is political and that if change doesn’t come soon the powerful will continue doing what they want and leave the weak to suffer what they must.
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.
At least ten people have been killed in Naivasha, Kenya following ethnic clashes that mostly pitted ethnic Kikuyus against ethnic Kalenjins and other ethnic groups that supported the ODM in last year’s general election. The attacks and counter-attacks seem to be turning into an uncontrollable monster as more and more jobless and bored youths join in the madness that has so far led to the death of more than 650 people.
The former UN boss, Kofi Annan, rightly observed that the chaos that followed the disputed elections have turned into something else. The attacks are no longer sporadic. They seem to be well planned and executed. The Kenyan government should move in quickly and arrest those who are organising these ghastly murders and destruction of both public and private property. Annan is scheduled to meet with Raila Odinga to further discuss the modalities of the desperately needed mediation effort between the latter’s party and the PNU of president Kibaki.
Kenyan leaders should act soon, in order to stop the violence from spreading into Nairobi and Mombasa – the country’s two largest cities. At the same time it should hasten the mediation effort in order to lower tensions and encourage reconciliation. The monster that is being created in these attacks and counter-attacks may mutate into something uglier if leaders continue to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that the ongoing killings are acts of hooliganism. The fact that the military is being used to police the Rift Valley means that the situation is bad. If the ODM and PNU really care about Kenyans they should realise that enough Kenyans have died for their greed and instead of being stubborn hammer out a deal that will bring peace soon and then proceed to address the fundamentals that are fueling the barbaric violence in the Rift Valley province and other areas.