Sunday, January 6, 2008

Violence in Kenya

I'm having trouble getting my thoughts together about all of this, but I want to post about the violence in Kenya because I imagine most of my readers are not closely following the situation. I didn't start paying close attention until the other day when I realized how ugly things had gotten.

Brief summary:
On December 27, 2007, Kenya held a presidential election. Mwai Kibaki was elected as president in 2002, only Kenya's third president since independence from British rule in 1963. Kibaki is from the Kikuyu tribe, the largest and most politicially and economically successful tribe in Kenya. Kibaki's challenger was Raila Odinga, from the Luo tribe. The vote was very close, but as soon as the Electoral Commission of Kenya declared Kibaki the winner, he was sworn into office for his second term, despite obvious meddling with the numbers. Odinga supporters, angry at the stolen election, retaliate against Kikuyus, especially in western Kenya where the Luo tribe in from and where many of Odinga's supporters live. In Nairobi, the tribal melting pot of Kenya, people from all tribes typically live peacefully side by side but mob violence has resulted in looting, rioting, and police shooting at the rioters.

The result:
-at least 361 people dead
-100,000 to 250,000 displaced
-fuel and food shortages in Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo due to interrupted transportation

It is imperative that the internal refugees have adequate food and clean water or many more will die as a result of preventable disease. You can donate directly to the Kenya Red Cross here.

While it seems that violence is subsiding, Kenya will probably be hurting from these wounds for a while. I hope that I am still able to do fieldwork in East Africa this summer, but violent outbreaks like these don't inspire confidence in my personal safety.

1 comment:

Karina said...

If anyone tried unsuccessfully to donate to the Kenya Red Cross a few days ago, they have recently added Google Checkout to their donation page so you can pay with a credit card.