Why YOU are responsible for the violence in Kenya and what YOU can do about it? (Why is there violence in Kenya after the elections part 1)

Ballot Box

Pretty strong title huh? To be honest, the title makes one very small omission, the title should actually be “Why we are responsible for the riots and what we can do about it.”

200+ people are now dead in just 2 days….absolutely amazing.

It’s about 2 a.m. as I am writing this. It is now the 2nd of January in Australia and the reports just keep coming in of more and more violence and unrest from home. What I want to discuss in this post isn’t the political minutia that’s behind the riots and unrest – I will say it again; as far as politics go I am quite ignorant. What I do want to discuss is the psychology behind it?

What I want us to do together is to understand the factors that are behind the violence back home. Then with a clear picture of what is going on back home we engage in serving the people of Kenya so that we can help take that beautiful country to a place much better than before this disaster-filled election. Here I sit in Australia with a very marginal and superficial understanding of why our fellow countrymen are slaughtering each other with such zeal. I decided I had to start blogging early so that I could understand what’s going on back home and assist other Kenyans to create practical, positive solutions that are win-wins for as many Kenyans as possible.

The Challenge

With that in mind I would like to “open the floor” to anyone who is willing to honestly and clearly express their thoughts and feelings about the election, the riots and the political situation in Kenya. I would also like to open the floor to anyone who has any initiatives or plans for how we will get the country out of this mess.

Why not Just Go to Mashada.com or Read the Nation? Why bring my conversation to the Displaced African?

I strongly recommend that anyone with a heart for the situation back home ‘keep in touch’ by going to forums like Mashada.com and reading newspapers such as Nation newspaper. The main thing that separates this website is that everything in this website is focussed around how we in the diaspora can serve and assist with the situation back home. This website will be a directory guide for anyone in the diaspora who has a heart and wants to get involved.

So What Do I Know?

To be honest with you through most of 2007 I had completely forgotten there was an election back home. Anytime I heard that someone was flying back to Kenya I would temporarily be reminded that this was THE YEAR but for the most part, people around me didn’t talk about it much.

The around October-November things changed. There was an election in Australia and so any conversation about an election in Australia would naturally lead to a Kenyan election conversation. The other big thing that got the diaspora’s attention was when Raila Odinga put his hat in the race and then…..had a chance of winning.Oooohhhh! Now that got the conversations going on all four cylinders.The conversation pretty much snowballed from there.All of a sudden:

1) Reading Nation newspaper was a daily, tridaily and 20xdaily event.

2) People realized they could subscribe to receive live streams of KTN and KBC online (go to www.africacast.tv for KTN)

3) ‘After church chit chat’ turned into exuberant analysis of the canidates and there was basically an epidemic that began with ‘e’ and ended with ‘lection’.

With all this election fever in the air (of which admittedly I wasn’t a part) I managed to pick up a couple of things and here now is my understanding of the situation from a Kikuyu perspective.

Conversations With Kikuyus: Pre-election fever

I think you already know how I feel so I will get straight into it. My ushago (home of my grandparents) on my mother’s side is Rift Valley deep in Kalenjin and Maasai teritory. The Kikuyu population there is quite large and for the most part they co-existed pretty well as far as I know. Now apparently around the time Raila’s campaign was gaining steam, my grandmother began to receive threats that as soon as Raila came into power they had best move out or they would be forced out. In addition to that many Kikuyu’s were concerned that should Raila come to power this would mean an end to the Kikuyu tribe as we know it and Raila’s supposed bitterness towards Kikuyus would lead to even maybe genocide and/or general displacement of the sons and daughters of Agikuyu.

Then of course there were the many Kikuyus who simply couldn’t fathom or comprehend the thought of being ruled by Jaluos who they perceived as having an alien culture, being rowdy, impetuos, uncouth and kahees (uncircumcised) or otherwise had some other irrational fear and hatred of the tribe of Lwanda.

Now mind you this wasn’t universal: Some Kikuyus wanted Raila voted in, disillusioned by Kibaki’s new formed love affair with Moi.

With that our brothers and sisters took to the polls

Election Irregularities

Around the time that the counting began to ’slow down’ it became pretty apparent according to the reports that there was a chance that Kibaki was stealing votes. The Kikuyu reaction:

Some thought: “Kibaki has done so much good over the past five years and Raila is too radical and hateful of the Kikuyus:We have no problem with the rigging, he just should have done it wiser”

Others thought: “ODM probably did it too and they are being so pushy and forceful about the results, if they want to manipilate the electoral process, PNU (Kibaki’s party) has every right to do it?”

Fewer people than there should have been thought: “We are not sure if Kibaki stole.HOWEVER, if he did we must restore justice to the process and get to the rightful winner of the elections and the true choice of the people.”

Post Elections

Kibaki in the greatest comeback in human history came back from what had been a consistent trail in the polls to steal the election by a nose hair. 15 minutes later there was a huge crack in the middle of Kenya and hell spilled out. The almost universal reactions in the diaspora were concern, fear, desparation, empathy, sympathy and a whole host of other negative feelings all rolled into one.

An interesting reaction I heard expressed a few times was:“There was going to be violence against Kikuyus either way. This way at least our relatives back home have the government machinery protecting them and we have a president who will bring peace back to the country after a couple of days or weeks things will calm down na kazi itaendelea (”the work will go on))

Why Do Kikuyu’s Think the Violence Is Taking Place?

Power! To paraphrase: ” The other tribes in Kenya have replaced Moi with a Kikuyu face. They think we are responsible for all their problems and we have all the power in the country and now they want all the power and think that getting rid of Kibaki will get rid of this grip we have on power and leave them to scoop it all up. Somehow by getting rid of Kibaki their whole tribe will become rich tomorrow.”

That in a nutshell is my understanding of the Kikuyus in the diaspora’s perception of why the violence is taking place. Kikuyus, if there is anything I am missing, feel free to leave a comment and add to the body of knowledge. My other fellow Africans, from any other nation,tribe and ethnicity please feel free to also leave a comment and share your feelings. If you have a blog, track back to this article. The closer we get to the truth, the closer we get to ridding our brothers and sisters back home of all the pain they are experiencing now and prevent them ever having to go through this again.

Odinga crying after losing

Be blessed and share so you may be a blessing to others,


PS: I have full intention of starting up the blog as was originally intended in mid January by blogging on the 10 things I wish I knew before I came to Australia so brace yourselves for that


  • By Loice, January 6, 2008 @ 12:23 am

    Let me say i am saddened by the happenings in our country today. as a kenyan leaving outside the country i have been pround of the fact that Kenya has been relatively stable ans we have always tolerated one another even though we may not like one another.
    But as a kikuyu, i know my relatives in the rift valley were quire warily of Odingas win. They were not sure that Odinga would offer them any protection. Kikuyus have been perceived to have stolen other peoples land after independence and other tribes want the out of their zones. having been born in the rift valle i do not know where we are sopposed to go back to , yet other tribes living near my mother had already given them an early warning to leave after the elections. Therefore whether Odinga won or lost, death was inevitable. were the kikuyus to sit back and have their hard earned labout taken by other tribes/ would odinga accord Kikuyus any protection if they were told to pack and leave?
    yet Kibaki will rule for all tribes. he is not coming to give any tribe matching orders neither will he give the kikuyus any priviledges.
    Therefore at this time in history when flares are so high, kibaki is the best bet for Kenya as the healing process takes place and a neutral candidate emerges who has no bitterness or anger against one group of People.
    To my fellow kikuyus, next election, we have to support a non kikuyu if we have to gain the confidence of out brothers and sisters. other tribes perceive as as selfish and domineering and we have to proof them wrong by being inclusice.


  • By Mwangi, January 8, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

    Thank you very much for sharing that. Interestingly your sentiments were almost mirrored exactly by a very profound and heartfelt nation article I read a couple of days back(http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=25&newsid=114025). I think all we need now is a clear understanding of what our brothers and sisters on the imagined ‘other side of the fence’ think and hopefully we can get to a place of common understanding though it looks like the situation is calming down now thanks to Jendayi Frazer(http://www.thedisplacedafrican.com/41/raila-and-kibaki-to-bring-end-to-kenya-riots/)

  • By Obura, January 22, 2008 @ 10:55 am

    I was a Raila supporter although i am fast becoming neutral. I am not against Kibaki because of his tribe. I love kikuyu’s. Roughly 65-70% of my closest friends are kikuyus. I am against Kibaki for one reason; one fundamental error he made and for which he will be judged by history-his toleration of corruption.

    Kibaki has not only tolerated the corruption of his close political allies, but is himself corrupt. If we let him stay, we will send a message to the pollitical class that we are willing to compromise on such issues and tolerate such faiure in leadership…

    Kenya needs above all else a new political system based on pertinent issues rather than personalities, otherwise it will always be tribal. Are there any suggestion as to how this change can be achieved without destroying our nation?

  • By Mwangi, January 22, 2008 @ 11:21 am

    Personally I think the key is education: You remember how in the 60s there were political education classes in different countries for the poor that taught them how the political system works, the history of the political system and most importantly how they can take advantage of it to create the type of society they want. With the rise of the Internet and all these various forms of cheap communication this wouldn’t be expensive or time consuming to set up. I think once this happens, the next time the poor are discontent they can actually direct their fury and anger in the right direction. What do you think?

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