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Friday, January 18, 2008

BULLETIN: roots of Kenya's tribal problems.

With the Kibaki government cracking down on opposition protests, killing protesters in the slums of Nairobi and Rila Odinga's opposition Orange Democratic movement saying it will boycott companies friendly with President Mwai Kibaki- it might do to look at the tribal elements in the conflict between Kenya's government and opposition. There's a good deal of disagreement on the extent of tribalism in the violence but here are some facts:

-Presient Kibaki is supported by the largest group, the Kikuyu people and Opposition leader Rila Odinga is represented by the second largest people. the Luo.

-historical migrations have left Kenya with a great admixture tribes and peoples.

-the Kikuyu, represented by the Kibaki government, constitute Kenya's largest and most powerful ethnic group.

-between 2000 BC and 400 AD- Kenya was the confluence of southward tribal migrations of Nilotic-speaking peoples, the Luo, Masai, and Kalenjin from Ethiopia and southern Sudan- and eastward migrations of Bantu-speaking peoples from the Congo.

-between the 11th and 16th centuries, more peoples arrived in Kenya from the north- the Horn of Africa and the Upper Nile. These further, southward migrations caused tensions and violence during the Middle Ages.

-in this period it was ironically the Kikuyu and Luo who together managed to create a region in central East Africa that was more stable and characterized by greater political equality than the tribes that surrounded them in the more autocratic and unstable kingdoms of Burundi, Ruanda and Ganda.

-in 1903, the first British settlers expropriated the Kikuyu and Masai from the central highlands.

-in the 1920s- it was the Kikuyu who took the initiative in agitating against British colonial rule for more rights. They formed the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA) which would later become the main African Kenyan political party, KANU

-in 1949, KADU, the Kenyan African Democratic Union was founded for non- Kikuyu peoples who felt unrepresented in the KCA.

-modern Kenya has more than 40 tribes.

-the Mau Mau rebellion of 1952-1960- was led mostly by Kikuyus.

-in 1960, a new party, the Kenyan African Union was formed, unifying the Kikuyu, the Luo and other major tribes. Jomo Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, was elected president.

-over time, however, the Kikuyu maintained control of the KANU and the Luo were sidelined.

-Daniel Arap Moi, a Kalenjin who headed the KADU party that represented smaller tribes and fought for greater powers for the regions, dissolved KADU into Kenyatta's large, multi-tribal KANU party. Kenya became a one-party state. Like KANU, it was dominated by the Kikuyu.

-the seeds of the present tribal problem seem to lie in KANU- ostensibly a Kenyan tribal union, it was actually, from the beginning, dominated by the Kukiyu.

-indeed, in 1969, Tom Mboya, a Luo and candidate to succeed Kenyatta (a Kikuyu) was assassinated.

-Daniel Arap Moi, a Kalenjin succeeded Kenyatta, maintained a turbulent rule from 1969 until 2002. He was considered to be keeping the Luo and and the Kikuyu apart until the two major tribes could settle their differences.

-nevertheless, Moi ruled at the head of a one-party KANU state, where Kikuyus still dominated. He was reluctant to extend political rights and allow a multi-party system.

-ethnic violence raged between the Luo and the Kikuyu in the early 1990s.

-in 2002, a coalition government was elected, to be led by Mr. Kibaki, a Kikuyu and Mr. Odinga, a Luo. But Mr. Kibaki edged Mr. Odinga out of any further decision-making, marginalizing the Luo.

-since 2002, Mr. Kibaki's government has generally been considered inept and corrupt.

-mow, Mr. Kibaki's Kikuyu people, the largest ethnic group in Kenya, is accused of holding an illegitimate monopoly on power. The opposition is mostly represented by the Luo.

-before the December 27 the elections, ffelt by the opposition to have been rigged in favour of President Kibaki, many Kenyans felt they were being pressured to vote on tribal and ethnic grounds.

-so far, 600 have been killed in the almost daily oppoistion protests since the December elections that brought Mr. Kibaki back to power were disputed by Kenya's Human Rights Commission.

-as of today, the government suspects Masai youths in the killing of one of its supporters in the town of Narok.
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