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Guest Voice

Don’t Balkanize Kenya

By Njoroge Wachai

The post-election mayhem that has rocked Kenya is horrifying – and embarrassing. Nearly every American I meet inquires about the plight of my extended family. My response is always that I am praying for politicians to come to their senses and talk to, not at, each other, for the sake of the country instead of for themselves.

It’s depressing to see a country slide into chaos when just a month ago it prided itself on its political and economic gains. Once known as a beacon of peace, Kenya now risks being branded unstable and dangerous to visit, tags that will scare away tourists. Economic gains already realized will fast evaporate into thin air.

The post-election violence has seen the wiping out of whole families by machete-wielding hoodlums, who ostensibly are protesting a rigged election. Why spill innocent blood for a political cause? Is the clamor of so-called justice worth the lives of the 500 innocent Kenyans now stacked in mortuaries across the country?

In 2000, former U.S. vice president Al Gore controversially lost a presidential contest to President Bush. Gore polled a million votes more than Bush, but fell short in the Electoral College count, which many believed wad fraught with fraud. Out of pragmatism, Gore, (unlike Raila Odinga) conceded defeat after the Supreme Court certified Bush to be the president.

Gore, just like Mr. Odinga, felt cheated by a system that was then tilted towards the Republican Party. The Supreme Court was stuffed with Bush Senior’s appointees; Florida’s Secretary of State was Republican Catherine Harris, whom Gore charged with personally orchestrating the “fraud.” What anger could be more intense than Al Gore’s? Yet he didn’t exhort his supporters to engage in violent acts the way Mr. Odinga has.

Mr. Odinga is vowing not to subject his grievances to the justice system on suspicion that the courts are heavily tilted towards President Kibaki. I see a lot of hypocrisy here. A year ago, the government threatened to investigate the circumstances under which the Raila family’s Spectre International, a cooking-gas manufacturing company based in the lakeside city of Kisumu, had acquired a piece of public land at a highly discounted price. Mr. Odinga swiftly rushed to court to seek an injunction. If, indeed, Mr. Odinga has no confidence in Kenya’s judicial system, he wouldn’t have gone there to seek reprieve.

As recently as December of last year, Mr. Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) appealed to the High Court to prevent the government from authorizing the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of Safaricom, Kenya’s premier wireless company. That’s more evidence of doubletalk from opposition politicians. It seems the judiciary is only credible when serving its own interests.

But Kenya is bigger than individuals or political causes. As U.S. President George Bush said in a press statement Tuesday, Kenya doesn’t deserve what it’s undergoing. Kenya can’t afford to join the league of countries that are in perpetual state of political instability. There’s a lot at stake.

Kenya is a country at a crossroads, and the sooner politicians across the political divide acknowledge this, the better. Some, like Government Spokesman Dr. Alfred Mutua and Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, believe that the current crisis can just be wished away by flooding streets and public parks with security forces in Plexiglas, guns, teargas, water-canons in mounted trucks and truncheons. They’re wrong. Long-lasting peace will only be feasible if politicians behave responsibly, in words and deeds. They must go an extra step to bridge huge tribal divisions that last year’s election produced.

The opposition’s assertion that the government ought to be dealing with the root cause, and not the consequences, of the post-election violence smacks of arrogance and insensitivity. They’re mocking the families, friends and relatives of the more than 500 people who have died from this senseless violence. Their supporters might interpret this to mean engaging in more violence.

This is not the time for grandstanding either by the government or the opposition. Every Kenyan, irrespective of party affiliation, must put last year’s election behind him/her and engage in genuine national healing. We can’t afford to Balkanize Kenya along tribal lines, further exacerbating inter-tribal hatred. It would have cataclysmic consequences on national unity.

If there’s one thing this election succeeded in achieving, it was to significantly expand the ethnic crevasses that reach to every corner of the country. The violence being witnessed in Kenya, though it was sparked by the cliff-hanger win of President Kibaki, bears all the hallmarks of ethnicity. It’s about politicians taking advantage of our fragile ethnic divisions for their own ends. How can you explain a Luo killing a Kikuyu, and vice versa, without either bothering to ask each other who he/she voted for?

Surely, the opposition gained as many votes in Nairobi as President Kibaki. He can’t claim that all these votes came from members of his tribe – the Luos. Neither can Kibaki – a Kikuyu - deny that some Luos or Kalenjins voted for him. It’s the height of ludicrousness to watch gangs mutilate each other on account of tribe. They must have been doing so at the behest of politicians from their respective tribes.

Gullible politicians are inciting disheveled, poor tribesmen to engage in ethnic cleansing, while they themselves continue insist shamelessly that it’s all about fighting for justice and democracy. Tribal passions were apparent during campaigns, and so the presidential election results were just an excuse.

When the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) proclaimed Mwai Kibaki the winner, for instance, the ODM leader, Raila Odinga, dismissed him as a president who was elected by only two communities: Kikuyus and Merus. During and after the campaigns, some in the government publicly proclaimed that Kenya can’t be led by a Kihii (uncircumcised man). This was in reference to Mr. Odinga, whose community doesn’t practice male circumcision. We also watched ecstatic post-election celebrations by government supporters, in which they engaged in ethnic rhetoric, clearly tailored to demean other tribes.

Without seeming to justify electoral malpractices that touched off the violence, I must remind all and sundry that this isn’t the first time Kenya has witnessed electoral fraud – and it will not be the last. It’s inexcusable, however, for politicians in Kenya to continue exploiting tribal divisions to settle political scores.

Njoroge Wachai studies technical communication at the University of Washington, Seattle.

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Comments (65)

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When your cousin is burnt alive in his car,just outside elburgeon and his passenger manages to escape because he is not a kikuyu and your cousin has offered the mob Kshs 20,000/= to let him go and the mob refuses saying they have been paid more than that.Maybe it will give people from outside kenya a better prospective of what is really going on. I am sure mention has been made of the church where women and children were burnt alive as they sought shelter. Raila losing the elections does not give his party members a right to commit genocide. It is not just your neighbours of 20 years waking up and torching your house. At least not in the Rift Valley, there it is planned genocide.


I don't agree at all. Much of the horror and violence of 20th century African history could have been avoided if the OAU had taken the bull by the horns and redivided the newly independent nations by their nationalities(using the term "tribes" is perjorative) rather than their colonial heritage. The Nigerian Civil War, the constant and reoccuring genocide in Rwanda, the problems in Kenya, Uganda, the recurring wars in the Congo, etc, etc. Each identifiable nation should have not only the right to rule themselves but the responsibility as well; everywhere in the world.

sheik yer'mami:

Sure, the violence might be tribal, to a degree.

But fact is that once again there is a party that pushes the sharia, and that is the party that causes most of the violence, because they have a mandate from Allah to make Kenya Islamic. We have seen it all before and we are seeing it in 30+ other theaters of war in the global jihad.

Islam has bloody borders, it cuts across race and tribal affiliations, even family. Destroy the jihadists for the sake of peace!


Isn't the Georgia election situation an uncanny similarity to the Kenyan one?
Four 4 days they've been having peaceful mass action. Not a shop been burnt, not a person been killed to react to unfavourable election result.

Kenya is short on Leaders.

Arthur Mwangi, Njeri's Brother in Dallas:

Growing up in Miami, Fl I never realized their were tribal division only until a few years ago. I know of the different tribes and such but I never realized the history and the resentment between them going back to British rule.

What I have learn growning up in America is that blood and ethnicity is less important and that I think is going to be the key to Kenyas success. I think the future is a blending of these tribes and cultures and a unifing new culture. Maybe through the school system as a start by promoting national pride not ethinic pride.

The ancient world operated on blood and people that looked and acted the same, but the modern world is about knowledge and competence. Its sad to see but to me a lot of Kenya and Africa are clinging to the simple past with groups of tribes and loyalist.

The change will be a painful process, than their will be HOPE. Look at the so called "Luo" decandant that is gaining recognition and respect. No one in America cares that his father was from the Luo tribe because they look at this ideology and ideas(though they be childish to me). Kenya can learn from the American election. But of course their will be ethno-centric fools doing the popular thing of bashing the US.

James Opiko:


"Njoroge" is a Kikuyu -- as in "Njenga Njoroge" who murdered Tom Joseph Mboya for Jomo Kenyatta and his cohorts.

Exceptions are there -- like my Luo friend in High School who used to call himself Philip "Kamau" -- in the hope that he would be "Treated Fairly" by the Kikuyu dominated system...LOL.

That was way back in the 70's...and unfortunately the same still exists.

The fact that the "Kikuyu dominated" government favors Kikuyu Land is not a myth...and is not a reason for any thug to go on a killing rampage, for many Kikuyus are also left out while Kibaki and thugs rampage through Kenya.

I am against any form of violence.

We must push Kenya's experiment with democracy forward with open minds and fairness -- and the remnants of the "Thieving KANU Mentality" must be wiped out -- at the ballot.

A fresh clean ballot.

Mr. Njoroge Wachai is entitled to his opinion, however biased -- and I would rather he compare Kibaki's election theft with Uncle Georgie's Florida theft in 2000 -- strikingly similar! http://www.politicalarticles.net/blog/2008/01/13/bush-and-kibaki-certified-election-thieves/

But then again, in America there is HOPE and there is a vibrant under-class.

In Kenya there is NO HOPE -- Just Rich Thieves and millions of desperate peasants....ready to vent their frustrations with the slightest provocation.

Njeri Mwangi in Miami:

You commenters that are attacking the writer, are doing exactly what kenyans are doing in kenya by assuming he is kikuyu because you don't agree or like what he is writing, it didn't seem to me that he was taking sides at all......but then again you all might accuse me of taking sides because I'm of a kikuyu. very unfortunate..read the article not the tribe...

Njeri Mwangi in Miami:

You commenters that are attacking the writer, are doing exactly what kenyans are doing in kenya by assuming he is kikuyu because you don't agree or like what he is writing, it didn't seem to me that he was taking sides at all......but then again you all might accuse me of taking sides because I'm of a kikuyu. very unfortunate..read the article not the tribe...

James Opiko:

What a biased assessment of the political situation in Kenya.

Kibaki stole the election the moment Odinga said: "Kibaki Tosha," in the 2002 election that drove away Kenya's previous dictator -- Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi.

Do you remember who orchestrated the coalition that drove Moi out -- Odinga, only to be cheated by Kibaki.

This time around, Odinga built another coalition, much stronger than the previous one, while Kibaki depended almost entirely on his Kikuyu and affiliated minor tribes, and even with the help of his thieving mentor -- Moi(a thief and a murderous criminal who should be prosecuted in an International Court of Law), he couldn't pull it off without ballot theft.

If peace is to prevail in Kenya, Kibaki must be removed through a new election, supervised by the international community -- otherwise this matter will escalate....or it might just die down temporarily, until an opportune time -- when the eruption will be much worse.

The notion that 'Kenya belongs to Kikuyus' died with Kenyatta, and it is time the old guard like Kibaki, who are essentially cut from the same cloth as Kenyatta and co. accept this as a fact, and start playing fair.

He lost a national referendum...and this election, and here are -- 20 reasons why Kibaki's Government should be overthrown by Kenyans and dumped into Lake Turkana: http://www.afroarticles.com/article-dashboard/Article/20-reasons-why-President-Kibaki-s-Government-should-be-overthrown-by-Kenyans/68881


Leave Mr Wachai alone. He is a poor graduate student trying to make ends meet.

Good article though Mr Wachai

current opinion on the ground is that both sides rigged!:

oh, and to all you guys states sides wishing war on us guys, like the rapes and killings and murders so far haven't been enough in "the pursuit of democracy blah, blah blah" feel free to fly your selves and your families in to take part from tuesday.

stop finger pointing. solutions?

Jason Ngati:

How did Kibaki get elected, when even the Chairman of the electoral commission Mr Kivuitu is on record saying he does not know that Kibaki won the election
and disowned the published results ?



The problem with Kenya is that Kenyans have never really been free or have any civil rights. After the British left 45 years ago. Kenyatta continued their legacy with a small band of henchmen oppressing Kenyans and even his own tribe. All power was concentrated in the presidency and any percieved threatening personalities were Assasinated Mboya & JM Kariuki) Only a his henchmen profited with the understanding that the presidency will forever remain in Kiambu/Gatundu hence the famous quote " The presidency will never cross the Chania river" BTW Kibaki lives across the Chania, in Nyeri.
After Kenyatta, Moi came along and was able to keep power by playing the tribes "Leaders" against each other, while opressing Kenyans again. People finally got fedup and pushed for a multiparty system as well as constitutional reforms.
2002 was supposed to be a watershed moment Luos and Kikuyus supported Kibaki believing he will bring about change. Kibaki betrayed the movement and instead of devolving power proceeded to entrench himself just as his predecesors had. He shortchanged the constitution reforms to strengthen the presidency which gave birth to Odinga's Orange movement which triumphed in the referendum.
Kenya has no laws or institutions that people respect, neither do they have any civil rights. The only way out of this impass is for the Parliament to change the constitution and finally give Kenyans their civil rights and institutions that are respected, along the following lines.
1. Reform the entire administration system which by the way was set up by the British in the 1900s and 1920's.
2. Reform the Judiciary all judges need 2/3 parliamentary aproval, same for the cabinet and all government positions.
3. Create PM VP deputy PM posts and move day to day running of the country to the parliament.
4. Write a Bill of rights to protect each and every Kenyan.

Once the constitution is in place implement it immediately. This will lessen tribal tensions and rid the country of corruption and you can bet this will lead to spectacular economic growth.
Kenyans need to look into the future, This is our only opportunity to build a better stronger Kenya.

Points to ponder
If Odinga wins in 2012 what happens?
If Uhuru wins in 2012 what happens?


Kikuyus were not in power for the 25 years of Moi's rule. That never stopped them from working hard and struggling to educate their children. If the luos in these column think that Kibaki directly goes to Kikuyus handing out wads of cash, then I am not surprised that you think killing them will eliminate the 22% that dominate Kenyan population.
One look at Kibera tells it all. The Luo practice tribalism more than any other community in Kenya. This guy Raila has been representing Kibera for over 14 years and his constituents still have no toilets! What record does he hold under his belt? None whatesoever. I feel bad for the Luos in these forum who keep thinking that Kibaki will step down especially at this time when Kenya greatly needs him to hold the country together while Raila incites the luo to torch everything in sight. Kikuyus are not going to vote for Raila just coz he is Luo and we should 'mix it up' every general elections.
Other people have more invested in this country and we can't let it be reduced to nothing just because a handful are not satisfied and ....will not take their matters to court!While the Luos are rioting and burning Kisumu and Kibera, other communities continue to work in order to better themselves. Too bad because Kisumu had really come along way in terms of economic trade and was once one of Kenya's shinning cities.

Stephen Anyanah:

The delay of the vote count, the hasty declaration of Kibaki as a winner, and the spontaneous swearing in as President is not in the spirit of democracy. Kibaki is not a genuine leader for the Kenyan people, unfortunately.

Daniel Ndiki:

As a Kenyan following the current debate in the press- both local and international media- about the legality or luck thereof- of the election outcome together with the subsequent mayhem, I must say I am very disappointed with the biased coverage.

First and foremost nobody seems to be interested in what is happening, nobody is looking for facts, while everybody is out preaching empty platitudes while a country is burning, and a section of a community is singularly targeted for reprisals.

The facts as they are as follow; Kenya is composed of tribes, people who pretend to like each other except during elections when one of ‘their own’ is denied the presidency. Then we truly hate each other. Both ODM and PNU are guilty of election malpractice in some way or another. The only difference being that- since there can never be two winners- one was declared the winner the other revolted.

In addition, in all the skirmishes, in almost all the towns, it’s principally the poor peasant -members of particularly ethnic community- the Luo and the Kalenjin- that are killing and driving out the Kikuyu. They seem to hold the Kikuyu collectively responsible for their misfortunes real or imagined, for which they have to exhort the ultimate price.

None of the politicians in ODM – in particular, and this should be significant to all that can see, Mr. Ondinga or Mr. Ruto -have condemned the killing, or try to dissuade their kinsfolk from carrying out such heinous acts. All of the ODM leaders are in Nairobi- engaged in their relentless quest on who can get the biggest pie of a tribal organization called Kenya while their constituent are having a field day burning and killing.

ODM maintains that they are not in charge of security and therefore they can not be held responsible for their kinsfolk. And the government, consumed and paralysed by their game of power-play in trying to cede scraps of power to ODM, is saying they are doing everything they can while in effect they are doing nothing.
Even when children are being burnt in churches, and mothers hacked to pulp, ODM has maintained a studios silence. Don’t the lives of these children matter to these people? Is their conscience so blinded that they cannot see wrong from right, or discern evil when it’s so glaring in their eyes? Granted they may very well have been cheated, but are they so blinded by the pursuit of power, or consumed with hate so such so that that they can watch unflinching in the comfort of their palaces while thousands of Kenyan are murdered by their tribesmen? What kind of government would we expect such callous people to make anyway?

Surely, if they can find the time to visit mortuaries- as if to confirm the result of their handiwork, give countless interviews about their supposedly relations to western king-makers, surely they can get some time, if not to dissuade their tribesmen from mayhem, at least to pacify their passion while directing them to a more peaceful and constructive means of deviance.
The other illusion being pandered by these so called experts is that Kenya has always had such peace or panacea. This is seems to be implied by both the local media who should know better and the international press- who have scant regard for truth. The truth of the matter is that there has always been skirmishes in Kenya – the Mt. Elgon clashes, the Wagara massacre, the Pokot/ Samburu cattle raids the North Eastern clan clashes, the Nyaho torture chambers, the police brutality of yesteryears just to name a few.
However, most of these clashes happened in remote areas, away from the local reporting and the glare of international press. There are many well documented reports with regards to these atrocities from organizations such as Amnesty International and International Relief Organizations.

The fact that these skirmishes did not affect the comfort of the middle class or the convenience of the expatriate community does not imply that Kenya had always had peace.

Another fact is that ODM campaigned on the promise of Majimbo. While the illustrious members of the Pentagon and some gullible middle class may have believed to the literal interpretation of the word, the common person- indeed their kinsfolk believed that otherwise. Had ODM paused or cared to think, them would have known that to most common folks, Majimbo translate to each tribe returning to their Jimbo. This exercise they believed would have been carried out through a legal process upon ODM wining the elections. Otherwise, as has been confirmed by how well organized their mayhem in Rift Valley is, the displacement would be done through intimidation, looting and murder. ODM were not declared the winner of the elections- the consequences are there for everybody to see.
Either way, with such a closely contested election, an election where the dominate theme was tribe, patronage and power, the fact was there was going to be a violence no matter what the outcome. The coincidence that the election was rigged just provided for the necessary cover for the mayhem. The violent outcome was so predictable and inevitable that it’s incredible the hapless government in-place did not see it coming while ODM was busy preparing on whom to blame if and when they lost.

One of the other misconceptions is that past Kenyan elections has been free and fair. What people fail to take to account is that Kenya was under a repressive rule for over a quarter century when these so called fair elections were conducted. But the fact is that in two elections that occurred towards the end of Moi’s rule, there was rigging- probably in a higher degree than that which occurred in 2007. The only deference then was that the regime did not tolerate dissent, and nobody without fear of death or torture would have come out and complained openly.

In addition, this is not the first time that such a high number of deaths or displacements have occurred in post-independent Kenya. It has happened every time that there was a general election- more so especially after President Moi agreed to have multiparty elections. In 1997 and the 2002 general election, while the Kikuyu and the Luo bore the brunt of the then government instigated classes, the target in Rift Valley was mostly against the Kikuyu. The clashes in 1997 resulted in more than a 1000 dead and displacement of thousands of people from Rift Valley and Coast Province. The only difference was that the coverage then was not as intense as it is today.

It’s also touted that the government only won ¼ of the available seats, while ODM won almost half of the seats. The question that people fail to ask is how is it that ODM got 90 seats with roughly 4 million votes while Kibaki got a paltry 43 seats with similar votes. Election is about one-man one vote. Why is it that we have in Kenya areas that have over 150,000 people having one MP and others with 10,000 people also having one MP?

The other naïve suggestion being peddled is the one about sharing of power. In Africa, as in most other young democracies, people do not share power. Kenya is nor different, and having two centres of power is a recipe for disaster. Counting the votes won’t help. Another election will only paralyse the country further, and give ammunition to tribes bent settling scores on behalf of their tribal chiefs by driving the kikuyu once and for all to their ancestral land- it there is anything ancestral about land or their land. Neither will the West help. They themselves have already taken sides, plus they have their own power games to play.

It’s up to us Kenyan. We the middle class can watch in the comfort of our living rooms, while the poor peasant decimate each other with their tribal chief’s tacit support. We can pretend to be friends to our fellow tribesmen in the splashy restaurant as we watch English soccer, while deep down we are really not interested in a solution unless ‘our own’ becomes president no matter how many of the peasant hack each other to oblivion.

Mazwi N:

Njoroge Wachai may be aiming at a good MA in political science or democracy, but to be honest, Kenya's elcetions were rigged.

It is taking the international community a long time to find the right term for what happened in Kenya's elcetions but now is clear that the vote was stolen.

Mr. Kibaki is running a government that not only has the support but also the blessing of the Americans; he's Africa's Musharaff. As long as the US wants to protect its investments, it is ready to partner even with a monster!!


10 million voters went out one morning to exercise a choice…on behalf of 34 million people. They did their job; the rest was institutional work that had nothing to do with the folks that exercised their choice. Rigging or otherwise had nothing to do with tribe A or tribe B. Your regular Kenyan just wants to get on with their regular life. At this point in time there is political fatigue; but off course the politician still wants brouhaha.
Every place in the world, every corporate, every home…if you are in association with the leader, you will benefit through proximity. If you think otherwise, you aren’t being realistic. Now I want to suppose that 100,000 individuals close to the incumbent benefit by association; plum government jobs and all manner of contracts. Kenya’s biggest tribe, alleged to be benefiting at expense of others numbers 2 million. My math tells me 5% benefit. Again how is it an issue of tribe A or tribe B?
In the last 3 decades, all Kenyans know that the guys in government and the guys in opposition have recycled here and there and we all know they are ineffectual clowns. The very same wolves in sheep cloth, singing one tune or the other depending on which side of the government they are in. Parties are of little consequence in Kenya thus no principles. Those very same individuals have now done a brainwash on you, the international gallery and several citizens to sing for or against their songs. And we are all buying it!! What a pity! Once again, why has tribe A or tribe B got to be responsible?
The political class thrives on exploiting the differences between the electorate. It happens everywhere. However, the ethnic clashes of 1997 in Kenya have been recorded in history as a well architectured plan to do away with a particular tribe. I dare say, the "foot soldiers” of a decade ago are the “generals” of latter day with experiences acquired from the last campaign, so to speak. Is why it being called the severest in Kenyan history, bearing in mind the last 3 orchestrated ethnic cleansing rituals. This was no reaction to elections anomaly, instead everyone has been hoodwinked. Touch a hot tea pot accidentally to understand the mechanics of a reaction. Coordinated and sustained assault resulting on multiple deaths and destruction of property over a period of 7 days is called “executing the plan”. Does it look like a few individuals or is tribe A or B?
The electorate deserves the leadership it gets. The clowns have been selling the same jargon for 3 decades, they’ve perfected it and the electorate buys the crap; hook line and sinker. An individual selling principles as a platform and well thought out plans does not stand a chance if they are not part of the establishment, the electorate rejects them outright. So what to do? Moan and groan? If you reckon am wrong, could “You” step up and shake up the establishment!

Do you doubt, that if you are still going to tolerate any of the current crop of politicians in Kenya, there will be more blood letting in 2012?

Njoroge’s article is highly imaginative; may hold water or not, I don’t know. However, isn’t interesting how just an individuals assessment of a situation has resulted in insults to the individual? Those hurling the insults are the kind of folks the politicians want to preach to. You buy!!!

Ponder. Not all the people in the hospital and mortuaries are tribe A, but highest number of dead in any year is tribe A. Would that qualify for Nepotism, who you know, university degrees or what nots? Would it not be likely is plain old math? Probabilities?


Some poeple are idiots. Kibaki is a dictator, a thief, sorrounded by henchmen who are exploiting Kenya. Its is an occcupation for heaven's sake. ODM (represented by Odinga) stood for devolution of power and equitable distribution of resources. It is bad that people are killing each other but who is to blame. Kibaki and Michuki.
Odinga represents the will of Kenyan poeple. Kibaki, that of neocolonialists. He must go.

Paul Walker:


What would you call dividing an electorate along gender lines?
Religious lines?
Fear lines?
Hope lines?
Experience lines?

Wake up and smell what you are shoveling!

They are simply following what we do here in the U.S. and you do not like it?

Tough to look in a mirror isn't it?

T. Leon:

I left Kenya on Jan. 9th. I was there through the elections, the vote counting, and got out through during a lull in the violence.

I was in a village in Western Kenya, living with friends and family. Some of my relatives were running for office, others were involved with the ODM campaign. Yet others had nothing to do with the election other than voting. I myself, not being Kenya, had no opinion about the election.

I had lived in Kenya for two years in 2003-2005. I married a Kenyan, and have learned a lot about the country and the politics there. Yet I am an outsider.

What I do know, is that even in 2003 when I first arrived in Kenya, the tribal issue was one that could very easy become explosive. So much so that the World Bank sent a person to Kenya to tell Kibaki to decrease the tribal tensions or funds would be withheld. Violence was always there just below the surface. It was born of frustrations and poverty and an inability to easily get a head.

Not all the people in the government were Kikuyu, but most of the jobs that gave steady employment and pay were held by Kikuyus. Nepotism is the rule of job hunting, who you know decided what job you get. People with university degrees could not get jobs, no matter how qualified they were.

Many of the other tribes, not just Luo, but Luhya, Akamba, Nandi, etc. complained about the lack of opportunities. It was not just the Luo that stereotyped the Kikuyu, the Kikuyu also stereotyped the other tribes.

This frustration and stereotyping set the stage for the violence. Mr. Odinga did not have to incite anything. The anger was looking for an outlet. I know that though people are willing to fight for a country with less corruption and nepotism, they do not want to go to the bush and fight. Mr. Kibaki rigged the election. It was so blatant some British newspapers are calling for Brown to impose a travel ban on the entire Kibaki government. Though there was some evidence of ballot stuffing by ODM, it was nothing compared to arresting poll workers and the manufacturing of hundreds of thousands of votes documented by the EU observers.

Until Mr. Kibaki accepts that he lost the election there will be no peace. I don't say that because I wanted Mr. Kibaki to lose, but because I know that when you take away a peoples voice, and that is all they have, they will become violent. The question now, isn't who started it, but how to end it. The opportunity for a slow process, like the courts (assuming an uncorrupted judiciary) is past. Now, only sitting down with an outside mediator is the only solution.


Keeping elections aside, how dare allow someone who once wanted to overthrow a democratic government a chance to rule Kenya? If you cannot be loyal to the government of the day, why do you think you are very lucky to have your own government? Cheating yourself...

Gilbert Phiri:

Njoroge, I just wish to butt into your Al Gore/ Raila Odinga analogy, how that the former was magnanimous in "defeat" while the latter has refused to accept defeat. The problem lies at the heart of "winner-takes-all" system of governance in Africa. Losing elections, however closely fought they may have been, can have disasterous financial ramifications. The stability of an opposition political party in Africa is not assured as the governing party usually tempts opposition MPs with money to leave their parties. Losing becomes such a bitter pill to swallow. In this vein, Odinga is within his rights not to dig the grave of his Orange Party!

Mgosi wa Kaya:

Mr Njoroge enjoys his rights as human being in the USA, more than what many Kenyan will ever have.Their is gang called Mungiki (from Kikuyu tribe)causing havoc against all other Kenyan tribes.Investigations should be launched as to TV and Radio black out for one week proper to allow massacres to take place.
It will suit Mr Njoroge right if his visa is revoked.He is their at the pleassure of the sacrifices made by Americans to make their country a great place to be.

David Owiti:

NJOROGE WACHAI you are DOOMED if you do NOT KNOW that:
some of the "hoodlums" you mention in your unfortunate article have already earned a degree,something which judging by your designation above you seem not to have attained.Then again they are NOT "ostensibly" protesting a rigged election.Aw come on!Do no give me that selfrighteous ogle and bury your head in the sand along with your chief.The elections were stolen at least by the admission of the ECK CHIEF!
NOW at New Nyanza Gen Hospital,300 bodies lie;DEAD.CAUSE OF DEATH,SHOT BY THE POLICE.
You rant about Gore & Raila.Please check out Munyasa's article on the same,please.


Ichiko, I totally agree with you.

I now am wondering how long the US will stand by on the sidelines while an illegitimate government erects itself. No peace, no justice. There must be a new elction whether or not spoiler and delusional Kibaki agrees or not.


Gee, Njoroge Wachai sure got some things wrong. Unless he offers evidence that Mr. Odinga exhorted his followers to violence that is patently untrue. Making statements without substantiation is lacking and kids stuff.

N. Wachai also has absolutely NO proof that Mr. Kibaki won the election. So, when one writes so amateurishly no one else takes their thoughts seriously. Sorry, N.J., deal with facts and evidence not biases.

Janet Munyasa:

This is for Njoroge Wachai

You are making some misinformed comparisons between Al Gore and Raila.

#1. In the question of seeking legal recourse, you seem to forget that Al Gore had a judicial system that worked, Raila does not.

#2. The Chief Justice did not hastily inaugurate president Bush before the the voting and counting process was completed. He waited for a recount and then the Supreme court process, before deciding who of the two contestants was the rightful winner of the election..

#3. Every CHAD pregnant and non pregnant went through vigorous scrutiny during the recount process. Kibaki has blocked every effort that would facilitate for a re count. Bush was not afraid of a re count.

#4.Then all the CHADS were counted and still the election was too close to call. The matter was taken to the Supreme Court, Gore was allowed similar legal representation as Bush.

#5.On Violence:

I am not an advocate of violence but lets face it, if Americans were as oppressed as the Kenyans are now , civil disobedience would have ensued even before the disputed 2000 elections. The stability and democracy in America came at a price, remember the Revolution, Civil War, and lastly the Civil Rights Movement?? 200+ years later the American children are enjoying the rights that came at the cost of the lives of their ancestors. And 40+ years later the African American children can realize the fruits of equality that came at the cost of the lives of people like Martin Luther King Jr. May be in 40 or 200 years from now, the Kenyan children will be able to boast of similar achievements. If the Injustice is not stopped now, we are bound to lose even large numbers of lives for a long period of time.

Kenyan people after being oppressed for so long, tried to earn some RESPECT in a civilized manner by showing up at the polls in large numbers to decide for themselves how they wanted to live their lives. And just when they thought they had attained their goal of a better life, their rights were snatched right in front of their very own eyes by some power hungry group of people. Given same circumstances, trust me, the Americans would have taken to the street too. It is therefore unfair to assign the blame of the acts of violence to Raila, because Kenyan people area intelligent and very capable of utilizing their brains. It does not take Raila for any Kenyan to realize that they have been treated unjustly and unfairly.

You will probably argue that there is poverty in America too, yes this is true , but there is no American who wakes up every day to go to work and still live on $1 a day. All have access to running water, They do not poop in an old newspapers at night and throw their poop through the windows of their shanties. Even homeless people in America live better than a large percentage of the working Kenyan population. Kenyans who live in Kibera, Mathare, Mukuru etc and work in places like industrial area live worse than the homeless people in America. Americas homeless have homeless shelters, and they do not go hungry, they have soup kitchens.

The poor in America have subsidised housing, welfare checks, food stamps and medicaid. If they did not have all these basic needs met, they would not even need an election dispute or Gore or any other politician to tell them to take to the streets.

You say that"this is not the first time Kenya has experienced electoral fraud, and won't be that last". I agree that it is not the first time, but unlike you, the majority of Kenyans are determined to make this the last time they ever have to deal with these kind of practices. Face it the days of the "status-quo" are over.


Chris Mongera:

It is soooooo sad to see that even the educated Luos who have had a chance to get out of Kibera and see the light are so engulfed with this elections that they do not see the bigger picture. We all sympathized with Raila, but all that changed when he started inciting violence. Everyone knows about the flawed elections (even a Kisii like me).
We want to know what our learned Luo brothers think about the killing of the kikuyus and torching of Indian and kikuyu owned businesses. Does this make it even? You really think that it is okay and should continue until your Luo tribesman gets what you think he is entitled?

Njoroge Wachai:

Mukunani - there was another president, from another tribe, who ruled for 24 years before President Kibaki came to power in 2003. During Moi's rule, we all know what happened to tribes that refused to dance to his tune: their economy was systematically destroyed, and their leaders' political careers shattered. Most readers of this article, who have commented on it, still believe that a person's ascendancy to the presidency has cascading effects on the tribe from which he comes from. If this was the case, Njoroge Wachai would be holding a plum job back home. He wouldn't be in the U.S. toiling and moiling to make ends meet. The current crop of leaders have failed us. Perhaps, we need a new brand of leaders, the 6-year-olds who don't know what tribalism is all about.

still bothered:

The above link is chosen only as an example of what is starting to take over all conversations about the election.

If you can scan Kenyan web pages you can find the names of the places mentioned in the above article by the World Bank boss.


its currently common belief in NAIROBI that both sides rigged


i hope the link works. What do you guys think is the way forward?


The writer views on balkanization with reference to Kenya's present circumstances is misplaced.

He should have started his peice thus "Since independence, tribalism has become part and parcel of the Kenyan society perpetuated by my tribe. I'm surprised that other tribes took more than four decades to demand a share of Kenya".

This self impossed tribal chief Kibaki A.K.A 2007 elections rigger, that was soundly rejected by six provinces out of eight should be send home so that Kenyans are led by a nationalist.

Njoroge should advice his tribesman, going by the nomenclature, that his time is up.


Very soon God will reveal the truth of this matter to the whole world. Rhetoric and debates limited to our human thinking will get us no where, but God reveals the truth of a matter to those who seek it out with wisdom,humility and love.


It's idiotic to compare US to Kenya when you know very well the chronic defficiency of our institutions. Maybe being a kikuyu yourself, you have to root for one of your own (Kibaki) regardless of the election fraud evidence.

Most of these great democracies were built on bloodshed. Kenya is no exception.


John Kofie:

Not too biased as others have indicated.


The writer of this article is biased and is an enmbarassment to this paper. Kibaki stole the election. Kenyans must not and will not let this injustice stand.


Mr njoroge, you are obviously of kibakis tribe, so you obviously see no great fault caused by him. Even though he shamelessly rigged and stole the elections. European and the western observers have acknowledged that is indeed the case that has prompted all this madness. I happen to have kikuyu friends and judging by this piece you wrote, either its your age or being raised, a plain tribalist that does not allow you to be objective and fair on this topic. you seem to pick sides and that is kibakis ofcourse. Kibaki has turned kenya into his government and not that of the peoples. He was defeated fair and square and it is time for him to pack up.Im sure hes stolen enough money to last him and everyone else up to, god knows how long. As for you, dont pretend or even console yourself that you love kenya by writing such trssh. it is exactly people like you that are the problem in kenya.



miidnimo { unity}:

kenyan's need to learn respect and dignity for their diffrence and their freedom .take look of my sweet somalia is good exemple when tribes leaders and corrupted politians agree to bring good people and nation down....i pray for calm in kenyan and peace in somalia


The author of the article above has been away from Kenya, for a long time and is most probably a beneficiary of the corruption that has taken root in that country at the expense of the common people.
Its irresponsible for the writer to suggest that the opposition must accept the results of a rigged election. There can be no peace without justice. Clearly Kibaki and his cohorts are responsible for the events that have led Kenya to be just another failed state. They have now committed more crimes against humanity and they must be arrested and charged with genocide.

Eric Smith:

This is one of the most self apologetic, lopsided and despicable pieces that I have read in this paper. I know Kenya quite well and the dynamics that this election presented are not any close to those expressed by this author.

This article though beautifully written lacks the incisiveness and character of purpose that a true journalistic piece should present ragarding a potent political problem. This piece should never have made it to this esteemed journal.

Chris W:

Is the author suggesting that because this is not the first time Kenyan elections have been rigged we should let it go? Those rigged elections occurred under a one party dictatorship. This is the first rigged election since the the promise of the the so called "second liberation". We will not let it stand.

The problem in Kenya is indeed tribal: the inability of the Kikuyu to view other tribes as equal investors in Kenya's future.

Micheal karanja:

Hi, your analysis on the Kenyan court is biased. on both cases, ODM and Raila used the court not as a solution , as they know that they can not have it , but as a delaying tactic. That is the best you can have from the kenyan Judicial system. Delayance, not justice.
But in this case justice delayed is justice denied.
In any case, if Kibaki won the elections, why is he fearing mediation for the sake of Kenya.


Micheal karanja:

Hi, your analysis on the Kenyan court is biased. on both cases, ODM and Raila used the court not as a solution , as they know that they can not have it , but as a delaying tactic. That is the best you can have from the kenyan Judicial system. Delayance, not justice.
But in this case justice delayed is justice denied.
In any case, if Kibaki won the elections, why is he fearing mediation for the sake of Kenya.


Dodo Munoko.:

I am going to be very brief: Mr Njoroge Wachai can write and think whatever he wants. This election was a turning point in Kenya's history. He should desist from equating the US with a history of 200+ years with Kenya of today and the access to information that people have. He is an apologist for the Kenyatta-Moi-Kibaki regime. Well things are not the same anymore. First forget about Raila, at this time in Kenya's history, he only happens to be the voice of change at this point in time and history, and there are more and more people out there who can play the same role. So be comfortable where you are, because this time, change is going to happen, whether you like it or not! It is going to happen. So you can feel comfortable where you are and enjoy life.


Please join us by signing an online petition to the Commonwealth to suspend the illegitimately elected government of the Kibaki. and please forward this massage to as many Kenyan people as possible. Tusilale Bado Mapambano


I do not know the process for how the editorial board invites a "Guest Voice" to write a piece, and maybe it is due to personal acquintance, but it is incumbent upon the Board to identify authors that go beyond petty ethnic propaganda. This 'Guest Voice' piece is not analysis or information, and is definitely not impartial. It is a mouthpiece for the Kibaki regime and ethnic henchmen, those who can not identify what is in the best interests of the country, or even of their own ethnic group. Kibaki's, and Njoroge's (as evidenced by his piece), cabal grabbing power at any cost is not necessarily in their best interest in the long-term, and is definitely not in the country's best interests. Everyone benefits most when people are able to work together, to respect one another, and to extend opportunities fairly.

George Albert:

More brutal and gory details of the man Obama unequivocally supports. Obama is so busted. This is more than bad judgment, this is scary. A Jacksonian who has done yeoman's work in substantiating Odinga's nefarious Arab ties and his hand in the ongoing violence that has all of Kenya in its barbaric clutches. Inconceivable horror. Gang raping little girls and boys as many as ten times. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

Obama has backed Odinga unequivocally going so far as telling big media (out of TIME Magazine's Joe Klein here), "Obama has had near-daily conversations with the U.S. Ambassador in Kenya or with opposition leader Raila Odinga. As of late this afternoon, before his rally in Rochester, N.H., Obama was trying to reach Kenyan President Kibaki."

Still hasn't reached him, I bet. More on Odinga and Obama's phone conversations here. This is beyond bad judgment. This is just bad and this story is not going to go away no matter how desperately in love Obamedia is with the Christ child. Big media does not control information anymore. And Obama is culpable. Here I am -- an individual blogger getting all this terrible information and the man, running for POTUS, is in the dark? Think about it.

Obama's bias for his fellow Luo was so blatant that a Kenya government spokesman denounced Obama during his visit as Raila's "stooge."

A Jacksonian sent me this stunning indictment (with links) of Odinga's evil left here "The other source of change in Kenyan politics by one of his readers mobysnny:

It's not getting reported in the media that the looting and burning of businesses in Kisumu was targeted to both Kikuyus and Kenyan Indians. The economy of Kenya is controlled by these two groups because they are Entrepreneurial. But Kenyan Indians rarely get involved in Kenyan politics, they do not vote by choice, yet the Luos in Kisumu do not like them, that's why their stores were getting burnt too.

Obama's boy.

Akwasi, Rochelle Park, NJ:

The author, Mr. Wachai CANNOT be serious!

He is effectively and simply saying that Mr. Odinga and his opposition party are a bunch of irresponsible sore losers, who are selfishly causing mayhem and refusing to behave in a civilized manner (like Mr. Gore).

Mr. Wachai is a terrible analyst! First, he ought to identify the CAUSE, which he cavalierly brushes aside: that Mr. Kibaki STOLE the elections. Second, he should try to find a cure for the cause: recount or revote.

Once Mr. Kibaki, like the rest of the world, realizes that one cannot allow a thief (that has been caught) to enjoy any ill-gotten benefits, Kenya would be on its way to peace.


Oh, the multi-headed hydra that is Kenya's politics! Do not let yourself be fooled by rhetoric or by party platform. Mr. Moi's regime, with its corruption and tribalism, was consigned to history in 2002 only to be replaced by another administration that displays the same, albeit with a much more open style of governing. Key members of the opposition ODM Party were also part and parcel of the erstwhile "establishment" and all of its ills. There are neither heroes nor true democrats here. Only wholesale change will slay this beast! Given he parlimentary results that saw countless incumbants loose their seats, the Kenyan electorate has indicated it is ready for such change. The politicians, clearly, are not.

Robert of Los Angeles:

Kenyan, you're right, balkanize is as balkanize does. But why the denial that it is not just tribes, not just fraud and deception, it is Talibanization not Balkanization that is going on here.

Robert of Los Angeles:

Sorry Jobby, your report is from ODM, the opposition party!!! Where is an independent report, where are the international monitors and Jimmy Carter when you need them?

PK Mwangi:

Kibaki stole the election. That is obvious. Should we legitimize a stolen election? That "Weork should go on?"

Now Kikuyus are a pariah community, universally hated and distrusted.

Shame on the megalomaniacs in power.

The country is already balkanized. For decades no Luo or Luhyia would set up a business in Central.

Now its the other way round.

Congrats Kibaki for achieving ethinic cleansing in a record two weeks

Kenya will never be the same because of Kibaki and his hench(wo)men.

wilma mcgrath:

I've lived in FL since 1975 & I'm so tired of the unfair & wrong opinions of others. After the disputed 2000&2004 elections this state had many nothern civil liberty lawyers here to find election mistakes made from Duval to Dade counties. Hear this..NONE WERE FOUND. The illegal voting was done by the registered Democratic voters. It was said to be "mistakes" in voting twice. Thanks to the liberal news media, this wasn't widely reported. But then, we know that Demorcrats are voter challenged in more ways than one.

Kibaki should step down:

It is funny to notice that all the above replies in praise of Mr. Kibaki or in condemnation of Mr. Odinga have surnames derived from the Priviledged Kibaki´s Kikuyu tribe. Kenyans should be rated above ethnic selfish imbalances.

Kibaki has no right to rig a National elections to his favour. He should step down to help avert further bloodshed.


Robert of Los Angeles -- Balkanize is a commonly used term for causing division within a country. Look it up, and stop trying to be trivial.

Pete Kusnick:

And yet we do it all the time. Evangelicals appeal to their neighboring "imperfect" humans to contain the malignant Arab races. Arabs humiliate and mutilate women to maintain order. Lenders foreclose. Nature devastates. Russians cut off gas lines during the winter. We sell weapons to all sides. Our State Department sides with oil producing Arabs. African-American politicians appeal to their kind as do every other race and religion. You want more?

Robert of Los Angeles:

Balkanize Kenya - what do the Balkans have in common with Kenya - hey, that's the closest you come to using the I word. Sure there are tribes involved, but what exactly motivated the Taliban-like violence?

Is the following the forgery?


If it is real, this discussion about tribalism is rather moot. A newly elected President in a multi-confessional state that started to impose Sharia nationally would precipitate civil war and / or military coup.

Just when you were thinking Kenya WASN'T another front of the Islamic radical terror campaign

S.K Shah:

I guess Kenyans are seeing the alternative they could have for a president if this guy had actually won. Raila Odinga is a shame to Kenya and he should re-evaluate politics as a career.


some pple still belive on the kibaki system - this person is a ture dictator -

some of the truth can be found on this aticle

> http://www.marsgroupkenya.org/pdfs/2008/jan_08/ODM_Report_On_Eck_fraud.pdf

H Patel:

Kenyans are loyal to their tribal origins for the most part. However, they have learnt to live together, peacefully. Unfortunately, at every election, Kenya has a history of politicians leveraging these tribal differences to create unrest. Today, poverty is a significant problem, and the very poor and unemployed do not have much to lose, and readily participate in creating unrest - the politicians pay this part of the population to help create chaos.

What seems really apparent in this election is that Kenyans are fed up of corruption, as the rich politicians and their associates get richer while the country and its infrastructure deteriorates. This has been the legacy of all of Kenya’s leaders to date. Kibaki promised change when he was first elected, and to the average Kenyan, has not delivered. On a recent trip to Kenya, I heard a lot of indigenous folks wanting Kibaki deposed since to them, there were two issues that were very apparent to them. The first was that the Kikuyus (Kibaki's tribe) seemed to be gaining success, owned some of the best agricultural land in Kenya, and seemed to have support for their businesses. The second, especially in the slums, was that the Kikuyus also were behind most of the violence and crime there, and were allowed to reign freely even though the government knew of the problem. Hence, the recent animosity towards the Kikuyus, and Kibaki.

Now, Odinga comes with the same message, and Kenyans perceive was robbed of his victory. It reflects the need for a change to the average Kenyan, and Kibaki has only provided lip service to date. Kenya has yet to find the benevolent leader, who puts his country before his own pockets. The sad part of this commentary is that the current crop of Kenya’s leadership - be it Kibaki, Kenyatta, Odinga, and others - are already very wealthy, but have been corrupted by the desire for absolute power.

It reminds me of some old wisdom, that says we elect politicians to solve problems they create.

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