Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What We've Lost.........

The ongoing situation in Kenya has turned from watching a car crash to watching a multi-car pile up. When you think that it is over and want to go and help another car comes barelling down the road and slams into the pile adding more to the carnage. Everytime you want to help there is another car coming to join the pile, it also doesn't help that instead of clearing the wreck the drivers who started it want to argue as more cars join the pile.

That is my analogy on the Kenyan situation right now. It is amazing how less than 2 weeks are going to set us back years in many ways. I've decided to take a broad look at the different ways we are going to be hurting.

1. The Economy - One of the daily papers in Kenya said that the chaos has cost Kenya 60 billion shilling so far. I'm not going to bandy around numbers but the results are self evident. We have looted businesses, destroyed infrastructure, tourist numbers are going to plummet and I'm even going to venture and say that investments both local and foreign won't be coming in any time soon. I see our neighbors Uganda and Tanzania benefiting from our misfortune. Of course in turn what is going to happen is that we are going to end up exporting even more skilled labour than usual and given the xenophobia Tanzanians and Ugandans have for Kenyans that isn't going to help relations much. I'll even venture to say that the rate of inflation is going to rise.
If one took a close look at the rioters and looters one would notice that they were young men. A writer said there is nothing as dangerous as an unemployed young man, Kibaki's failure to create the jobs he said he would or encourage the growth of small businesses is indicative of the large number of looters, rioters and militia. Rest assured if these young men had something to call their own, they would have been less willing to riot and enter battle. On many levels I feel that their rioting was more a way of expressing their frustration than expressing their tribal allegiances. Since the 90's the number of disenfranchised youth has been growing in Kenya at an exponential rate, a walk around the different neighbourhoods of Nairobi can attest to that fact. Until Kenyan's leaders starting from the head put in place economic policies that have a trickle down effect instead of a trickle up effect we are always going to have young men willing to loot throw stones and kill either for money or to prove a point.

2. Tribal Relations - I have a Kikuyu friend (yes it has become that bad when we have to claim to have friends from certain tribes) told me that when Kibaki announced his Cabinet, the Kamba messenger loudly and happily proclaimed, "sasa tuko na nyinyi!"
That is what we have been reduced to, us vs them. I can recall reading Kpundit's post about how she was really conflicted since she came from a multi ethnic family. I am sure her anguish is being felt by thousands all over the country. In some cases it didn't end at feelings as some individuals have had their families torn apart by in-laws who have come to claim them or other in-laws who have banished them from their adopted community irregardless of how long they have lived there.
We have now entered a whole new period of distrust among tribes, we are one nation in name only at this stage. Alot of this tension has been simmering for a very long time and no attempts have been made to disperse it after the explosion since the powers that be are willfully blind to the cause and even deny its' existance. I have been reading different Kenyan forums on-line and while many people are attempting to at least put out the fires in our country and help the affected, there are some blog postings I have read that are full of gloating and are just a step away from hate speech. What they are gloating about, I don't know because right now any victory is Pyhrric at best.
I remember a time when you could travel throughout Kenya and the only thing you had to worry about was your property but now we may be coming to a stage where the only way certain tribes can travel through certain areas is by air. That may be a stretch but with the tensions that have been inflamed in some areas I think we are going to have sunset towns (outsiders must be gone before sunset) if we are not careful.

3. The Land Issue - One underlying cause of the tribal tension in Kenya has been the land issue. Skewed land distribution after independence, poor land policies, land grabbing and no attempts to address the issue have been a cause of sporadic clashes in parts of Kenya and the only thing most leaders have done is use it for political mileage. Now with certain groups being banished from certain areas of the country, their land will be taken by the "natives" but what of the displaced? Even if the government attempts to give them their land back, most of them won't go back especially when your neighbor was the same person who drove you out and burnt down your house.
So while one group may have solved their land issue (the wrong way), a whole new group of disenfranchised people will have been created alongside a new set of tribal tension and hate.

Those are the three main points that came to mind but I am sure the fall out is far far wider. Who ever knew that a struggle for power between 2 men would hurt Kenya this badly. At this point in time it doesn't matter who won or who lost the election, the point is that as Kenyans we all lost. It doesn't matter if you live in the slum, in the village, in an estate or in a mansion we are all going to be feeling the after shocks of this for a long long time to come.
The only question is that as Kenyans are we going to path a positive way forward and seek reconciliation or are we going to get into our respective tribes and dig in for the long haul? Think about it.....


Lola Gets said...

As much as I love the British accent, among other aspects of their culture, it really burns my butt that their divisive colonial policies are having such adverse effects even to this day! I truly hope things in Kenya calm down soon.


Mutumia said...

I hear you again and again kwanza on the economy. That intangible thing "confidence' takes a long time to build up and once lost, takes a while to be regained. I'll keep telling any of my American friends who ask me about Kenya, that they should still go there on holiday once the violence ishas. And I'll still be building the townhouse that I started and I'll finish it. But it's sad, sad, sad.

Ssembonge said...

I'd hate to think that Kenyan presidential elections and Kibaki, in particular, will continue to dominate the Kenyan blogsphere.

At this rate, there is no incentive for Kenyans in the diaspora to want to go back home.

Peace said...

Eh! This is not the Kibaki I knew 20 years ago. But then, what did I know then? And what do I know now, Ugandan me?

mocha/1 said...

Things have become dire. Now the talks with African Union leader have fallen through.

I keep praying for peace!

Anonymous said...

I tell everybody who asks me why a person can kill another who has not done anyone any wrong, and i tell them that they should have been there when it all started. I saw a community transform from being a peace loving sane people with the hospitality that has been their second nature to insane beasts of destruction and death. What ever i saw on their faces and eyes i have only seen it once when i cornered a stray cat which had been stealing our chicks. Up to now i do not know how to react to some of the comments some of our leaders are making on media.

uncle joe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Acolyte said...

@ lola
We are still reaping the fruit of divide and conquer I tell you. I hope the same thing too.
@ muts
It is indeed a sad state of affairs that doesnt seem to be getting better.
@ Ssembonge
This is an issue near and dear to peoples' hearts and minds so we shall be hearing about it for a very long time.
@ peace
power corrupts people my Ugandan friend.
@ mocha
@ anon
I think to some extent many of our leaders are still far removed from things on the ground. They talk and they go back to their big houses and big paychecks while the ordinary man starves
@ uncle Joe
Please stop spamming my blog if you aren't going to say anything relevant to the post at hand. I have said nothing about ODM or PNU so I expect you to respect my space.
Thank you.....

Shiroh said...

I take great exception to people pouring hatred on my blog.

Do i really have to define Free Speech for you?

Acolyte said...

@ Shiroh
If you define my comment as hate then what do you define your own last few posts as? Refined hate or what? People are bending over backwards to try and be civil to you and make you see what the bigger picture is but you seem to least bothered.
Remember with great power comes great responsibility, you now have the power to reach millions with your blog but think long and hard about what you are telling them during this trying time for our country.

Prousette said...

Aco, Happy New year even though there is very little to be happy about this year in Kenya.

44 years of bottled up anger was bound to explode. We all saw this coming and we all know the cause. Of course there are people bandying the cliche statements like those politicians have paid their supporters to do this, other have the gall to say "those" who are doing this must be high on something.

When people are denied natural legal expression of their desires expect an unnatural explosion like we see right now. We are all very angry at the moment others manage their anger well, most do not. This is not a justification for anything just an attempt to explain what is going on.

May God help Kenya find it feet once again.

Kirima said...

You are right that we all have lost as Kenyans including those who may be gloating over their percieved "victory" I can't be as supporter of either of the sides in this mayhem. The damage to the Economy and to relationships among communities is too great but my prayer is that we do not give up it can be repaired/healed!!
I wonder whether a "Nelson Mandela" can come forward to save the country if SA could come out of decades of racial division and forge ahead with reconstruction then it should be possible for Kenya as well.

Jo said...

It has come to a point where I steer clear of any political talk with my Kenyan friends, because at the end of the day as much as I love some of them,Its so frustrating that I can't reason with them on this matter.Its like banging my head on a wall.Acolyte I give you mad props for painting the true picture of the political/social/humanitarian/economical situation in Kenya and also refraining from sensationalizing the whole affair like some bloggers are doing.

We are fighting "ghosts of the past" and sadly we are our very own victims.