Kenya: a sort of solution

After the violence following the disputed election, Kenya finally produced a coalition cabinet last month with the opposition leader Ralia Odinga as Prime Minister and Mwai Kibaki as president and a cabinet of 40 members. The two leaders have jointly visited the Rift Valley area where the worst of the previous violence occurred. There remain significant tensions within the ruling coalition amongst other things on the question of an amnesty regarding the earlier violence. As I have noted previously Kenya is a complex place and simply ascribing its problems to tribalism is much too simplistic. Tourists may begin to return to Kenya but the endemic problems of corruption are deep seated and whether not the new government will be able to improve the lot of the population remains to be seen. Certainly not all the refugees are yet confident about going home and there is sometimes little enough to return to.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    At the risk of being perceived as rascist, can anyone explain exactly what the problem is with African self-governance?
    It seems to be one disaster after another, with sinister rumblings now emanating from South Africa concerning violence against ‘foreigners’.

    Surely all the continent’s problems can’t be blamed on their rapidly receding colonial pasts?

  • 6countyprod

    Even though it may sound simplistic, ‘tribalism’ is the cause of many, if not most of the problems in sub-Saharan Africa. Having had first-hand experience in two of West Africa’s recent conflicts I feel that the base cause of each, and numerous others that I am vaguely familiar with, was the tendency of one group to benefit from the nation’s wealth at the expense of the other groups in the country.

    Many times a tribal group, or cluster of similar ethnic groups (involving language, culture and/or religion), take control of a nation, and exclude all the other groups from being involved in the social, economic, security and political life of the country. This leads to anger and resentment among the disenfranchised – usually the majority – which then results in repeated coups against the ruling elites.

    The agreement between the Ivorian president and the former rebel leader -now prime minister- would appear to be an appropriate model for the Kenyans to follow, although it is yet to be seen if the Ivorian solution will be long-lasting.

  • joeCanuck

    Surely all the continent’s problems can’t be blamed on their rapidly receding colonial pasts?

    Yes they can. They created artificial countries where none existed before and there are deep cultural differences between the various tribal groups.
    Ever heard of a place called Northern Ireland?

  • can anyone explain exactly what the problem is with African self-governance?

    You look at the Nazis, Mussolini, Stalin, Srebrenica, the Spanish Inquisition, the Ku Klux Klan, slavery, the Americans constantly invading everybody else’s country, the extermination of the Tasmanian aboriginies, Northern Ireland still obsessing about centuries old religious problems (along with most of the Balkans), interminable ethnic wars like Cyprus and the Basques, and you have to doubt whether people will ever be able to govern themselves properly…

  • What has the Spanish Inquisition to do with any of this, black propaganda excepted? I always find it amazing how easily the imperial war crimes of Perfidious Albion sits on the shoulders of Brits.
    Britain remains a terrorist state and it should compensiate Kenya for all the crimes it committed against them. Richard Dawkins, whose family was central to the rape of Kenya, should lead the way.

  • joeCanuck

    Meanwhile it’s just been reported that 11 women in Kenya have been burned to death by a mob who accused them of witchcraft.

  • What has the Spanish Inquisition to do with any of this, black propaganda excepted?

    You don’t do sarcasm, do you?

  • 6countyprod

    Dave,

    You do talk a load of old rubbish sometimes!

    Why are you so touchy about the Spanish Inquisition? I suppose you think that it
    never happened, and those thousands of people who died because of it are just a Jewish/Protestant-inspired myth.

    Is that why you like the Palestinians so much?

  • 6countyprod

    Hey Dave,

    Just reading up a little on the SI. Seems like it was also directed against Muslims, so maybe your sympathies towards the followers of Islam are misdirected.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”Surely all the continent’s problems can’t be blamed on their rapidly receding colonial pasts?”

    JoeCanuck: ‘Yes they can. They created artificial countries where none existed before and there are deep cultural differences between the various tribal groups.
    Ever heard of a place called Northern Ireland?’

    Interesting Joe — the Republic of Ireland was a British colony within living memory — it is now one of the most prosperous democracies in the world. Yet despite a continuous deluge of foreign investment, aid and goodwill, not to mention copious natural resources, the number of arguably ‘stable’ countries in Africa can be counted on two thumbs. Many are in a considerably worse state than under colonial rule and appear to positively welcome tinpot dictatorships, civil unrest and religious extremism.

    Your analogy with NI is hardly a sustainable one.
    Notwithstanding the fact that NI has managed over a decade of relative peace after 30 years of entirely pointless conflict, it remains the case that the ‘colonial power’ is still here.
    The same cannot be said for Africa.

    Take the example of Zimbabwe. Having divested themselves of British rule, the country acquired a nasty little tyrant who refuses to relinquish power and abuses his own people in a vile manner, bankrupting a formerly prosperous country in his attempts to remain in government and cynically lambasting the former colonialists as scapegoats for his own monstrous behaviour. Ever read Animal Farm?

    ‘Meanwhile it’s just been reported that 11 women in Kenya have been burned to death by a mob who accused them of witchcraft.’

    Is this incident linked to colonialism? Or straightforward superstitious nonsense straight out of the middle ages?

    Whilst the former basket cases of India and China transform themselves into super-powers, the African nations struggle to merely exist.

    Again I ask why is this?

  • 6countyprod

    G L C,

    Sorry for getting off track!

    I don’t pretend to know what the problem is, but most Africans I know lack the motivation to even think about competing with the rest of the world, except in football, of course.

    If foreign aid, investment and technology was completely removed from sub-saharan Africa, I fear that vast swathes of the continent would return to the iron age, and subsistence farming, which existed before colonialism, would be the order of the day within a generation. Life expectancy would fall even lower than it is now, powerful tribes would again dominate and slavery would be rampant.

    As it is, around the same amount of money and aid given to Black Africa over the past 2 decades or so is about the same amount that has been spent on wars and conflicts, so one has cancelled out the other.

    I love Africa and Africans, but they just do not look on life and progress the same way as Europeans or Asians. They definitely face unique challenges but nothing insurmountable, with the right attitude and leadership. Senegal and Ghana are a couple of very promising countries which have seen peaceful transitions of power, but you just never know.

  • Turgon

    I do not pretend to understand why Africa has so many problems. One thing I think we should be extremely wary of, however, is lumping the continent together as one mass.

    Even countries as superficially similar as South Africa and Zimbabwe are actually very different; as indeed they were when they were Rhodesia and South Africa.

    Kenya is (for example) very different to Uganda despite being its neighbour. This should surprise no one, Germany is quite different to France for exammple. the distances between East and West africa are the same as the distances between he British isles and central Europe, the distances north to south are larger than the distances between here and Moscow.

    The African continent is absolutely vast with very differing strengths and weaknesses throught it. As such a one size fits all policy (or explanation) for its problems is likely to be very flawed.

  • 6 county Prod: Read up on the Spanish Inquisition and the Anglo Dutch spin associated with it. The Black Legend in particular, which is from where you get your cliches.

    As regards Africa: it is incredible to hear imperialist and racist apologists blame it on the locals. You are the same type of people who blamed Aids on Africans having sex with monkeys.

    The MI5 controlled media spew out about witches, penis wars (blacks have BIG ones) and the like. No talk about the wars british and American companies spark in Africa for oil. No talk about Africa’s favourite gendarme, the thugs of the French Foreign Legion. Etc. No wonder the world hates Brits and Americans.

  • Greenflag

    6countyprod,

    ”If foreign aid, investment and technology was completely removed from sub-saharan Africa, I fear that vast swathes of the continent would return to the iron age, and subsistence farming, which existed before colonialism, would be the order of the day within a generation. Life expectancy would fall even lower than it is now, powerful tribes would again dominate and slavery would be rampant.’

    Paul Theroux (writer) who returned to Africa after 40 years since he was a volunteer in the American Peace Corps) seems to be of similar mind in his book ‘Dark Star’

    I hold a more optimistic view longer term . Sub Saharan Africa was isolated until relatively recently 16th century from the world centres of civilisation -europe -middle east and east Asia . Jared Diamond in his book Guns Germs and Steel gives a good insight into the factors which held and still hold Africa back in development. European colonialism was both an instigator of development but also restrictor of ‘national’ or state development and ultimatley a divider with various ethnic groups being divided amongst several ‘newly minted’ States e’g Zimbabwe , Nigeria etc .

    Zimbabwe Btw is I hear returning to subsistence farming and there is no way that that level of production will feed the entire population of unfortunate country.

  • 6countyprod

    Greenflag,

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Yea, it would probably be back to ‘every man/family/ethnic group for itself.

    I am cautiously optimistic as well about certain parts of Africa. We (foreigners) can help, not by necessarily giving or controlling, but by empowering through example, training and instruction. I suppose that also sounds paternalistic, but I have seen it work in a number of locations.

    Although a little dated, my favourite book on Africa is ‘The Africans’ by David(?) Lamb.