Why Kenya needs to diffuse 2012 time bomb

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In 1992, when Kenya experienced its first large-scale dose of tribal clashes, many were shocked. Fingers were pointed at political figures, some serving their puppet masters.

But after elections and inauguration of the first multi-party government after many years, the issue was swept under the carpet. That’s until it re-emerged in 1997, just in time for the elections. Again, with a new government (technically new, practically not), the issue took its spot back under the carpet.

But wait, a hodgepodge of a commission was set up to ‘investigate’ the causes of tribal clashes. We know how that went, and by 2007, when politicians were urging their supporters to weed out the ‘madoadoa’ from their midst, when radio stations were preaching the ‘us versus them’ sermon, everybody knew what was coming.

It came and we are now, in characteristic Kenyan fashion, creating room for it under the carpet. And like Josef Fritzl, we are expanding the underground basement by creating extra rooms and installing electronic doors etc to keep our shame safely tucked away.

Which brings me to my point; Kenya is surely headed for another internal war. Well, not unless Kenyans, and the rest of the world, read history, particularly that of 1990s in Rwanda.

You see, in Rwanda, there had been ‘attempts’ to forestall the ethnic clashes. A peace accord had been signed, creating a coalition government between Hutus and the Tutsi-led RPF. The UN deployed some 2,500 troops to baby-sit the accord.

Of course, its implementation was delayed, mainly because President Juvenal Habyarimana was under pressure from Hutu extremists not to cede much ground. All the while, militias received training in readiness for war against the ‘cockroaches’.

By March 1994, human rights organizations, having shouted hoarse that a massacre was imminent, evacuated their staff from Rwanda.

Almost every Rwandese, to a man, knew the situation was getting out of hand. They did nothing. They could do nothing.

Boutros-Boutros Ghali, the African at the helm of the United Nations did nothing. The troops in Kigali were baby sitters, they were not mandated to pinch the baby if it spat on their face and refused to eat.

And so, when Habyarimana’s plane was shot down, everybody who had been following developments in Rwanda knew what would come next. Everyone, including the UN Security Council and Mr Boutros Ghali.

Back to Kenya; everybody can see the political machinations that are being employed to defeat implementation of the National Accord and its reform agenda. Human rights bodies have warned that the militias are still active across the country.

Yet we – you, me, human rights bodies – can do nothing. The African Union, which sent Koffi Annan’s team here, is doing nothing.

So, tell me, my friend, whom does the world blame for the inertia that allowed the Rwanda genocide? Is it the Rwandese nationals, or the international community?

Should Kenya fall into another round of tribal clashes (in 2012, 2017 or 2022), whom shall the world blame?

If you don’t see where I am heading with this, please read the blog I wrote last week.

I say again. Our ‘international friends’ are the only ones with the tools that can save Kenya from itself.

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  • msema kweli

    I agree Laura, Kenyans should start acting. It begins with you(and me). Lets act by stopping to give bribes, to speak out against ills.

  • Lawrence Njenga- Limuru

    Laura…nice feature on your website. Anyway my point is simple. Kenyans are looking at Ruto now as a Hero. Like Artur is a BAD GUY but who wouldn’t want his autograph? Kenyan voters are everything their politicians are.

  • Githinji

    The Kenya we want is one without corruption but i don’t see and end it. We have tried to be united against it, remember 2002 when Kibaki become President,but it fought back hard and won. Guys as young as 20 are now seriously discussing ways to get to parliament and government so as to get involved in highly corruption ie Trition after all once we defraud billions all we need to do is by some MPs and get an expensive lawyer.It’s a small sacrifice for the billions.

  • Shikuku – USA

    How i wish more and more Kenyans got themselves engaged in the affairs of our great nation. Rally one another against relentless impunity by our leaders.
    Our leaders have lost the sense of being responsible to their employers thus continue to act recklessly in parliament (censure motion), they taint the image of our nations integrity. I dread reading news from Kenya everyday because they scream “something is not right again” and the worst is yet to come. Kenyans lets get involved in pragmatic political decisions of our nation right from our dinner tables. Lets resolve to build a better Nation on the principles of democracy. It can be done. WE CAN DO IT! I believe.

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