cc With Kenya's exploitative elites continuing to monopolise the country's resources, Antony Otieno Ong’ayo argues that profound change is needed to halt a debilitating 46-year status quo of marginalisation and impoverishment for much of the Kenyan populace. While change will ultimately need to come from below, Otieno Ong’ayo contends, Kenya's leadership will need to moderate its relentless appetite for wealth if 'business-as-usual' is to be prevented.
That there are historical injustices in Kenya is not a myth, or some conspiracy theory. It is truth and a reality whose continued denial, sidestepping, and deflection of its victims' perceptions to imaginary enemies in the name of other ethnic groups or individuals is what many commentaries have noted and even the recommendations in the agenda four have emphasised as putting Kenya on a bleak path. The question is, why this hypocrisy, why this contradiction and why does it take so long for Kenyans – regardless of their ethnic background and even basic intelligence – to recognise this mine trap, which has often been camouflaged by statements such as 'our presidency', 'it is our turn' or 'our time to...' and so on. Forty-six years after 'independence' is such a long time to keep lying to oneself, let alone to a nation of more than 40 million people who presumably have some level of intelligence. The only problem is that while the same Kenyans with high intelligence as noted in many parts of the world and at home where their competence is unmatched by African standards, through numerous individual pursuits, there are conspicuous signs that this intelligentsia has not been made to good use, especially for nurturing Kenya into a vibrant nation that is multicultural and diverse (whether by default or otherwise).
Kenya’s major problem is deeply rooted in the birth of the nation, especially during the first few years of 'independence'. The wrangles that took personality, regional and ethnic dimensions, and finally culminated into a single party dictatorship after KADU (Kenya African Democratic Union) was swallowed by KANU (Kenya African National Union) and KPU (Kenya People's Union) figures subjected to detentions and imprisonment, set the main trajectory of malgovernance in Kenya. The violence that followed in an attempt to subdue alternative voices, the concentration of powers in the presidency and intolerance and arrogance of ethnic chauvinists in the corridors of power became a hallmark of Kenya’s system of governance. The current crop of elites in the ruling positions in Nairobi are just reading from the same old script, however what they seem not to grasp is that it is more than 30 years later and the dynamics within Kenyan society have changed immensely and that citizens' reactions may not be possible to contain in the same old way.
In the context of ethnic politics and mechanisations about power and resources in Kenya, other Kenyans, especially groups that were not part of the power axis or part of the rightful owners of Kenya as has been insinuated in many narratives on post-independence Kenya, have been expected to be loyal and accept their position in the Kenyan matrix without question or even a fight. Kenya started off from a platform where the big-man syndrome shaped the national psyche, and those who did not believe in this modus operandi had very little to count as their stake in the national affairs. For this reason, there has been constant agitation for 'one of our own' to be in the state house, statements which reflect a reality which though often mentioned only in passing are critical for understanding the underpinnings of power struggles in Kenya, struggles which have taken a more ethnic dimension than ever before.
WHO FOUGHT FOR KENYA’S INDEPENDENCE AND WHO OWNS IT?
The other mystery which has been kept out of analysis is who the real fighters for the independence were? Who really sacrificed their lives for land in formerly British-occupied regions in Kenya, especially in the Central, Rift Valley and Coast provinces? Where are the names such as Dedan Kimathi, Harry Thuku, General China, Koitalel Arap Samoei, Gopal Singh Chandan, Pio Gama Pinto, Kungu Karumba, Fred Kubai, Mbaruk al Amin Mazrui, Mwangeka, Waiyaki wa Hinga, Madan, Desai, Makhan Singh, Ochwada, Cege Kibacia, Moraa, Siutuna, Mary Nyanjriu, Muindi Mbingu among others. These names are conspicuously absent in Kenyan history books and analyses or are only mentioned in passing, yet they are critical for understanding the concerted efforts by all Kenyans of diverse backgrounds during the independence struggle.
No one dares explain the role played by many other Kenyans, even though it is well-known that some communities suffered more than others at the hands of the British occupational forces in the 1950s. This distortion in Kenyan history, especially the silence about the true Mau Mau fighters, and the indirect role played by millions who supported the independence struggle is a great disservice and omission that continues to create confusion in the nation-building process. And even in recent times, those who are enjoying and supporting the status quo have very little to do with both the first and second liberation. The discomfort about marginalisation is not only about one ethnic group against others, but it also exists within the same communities that have had a chance to rule the country. For instance, not all in Central Province or Rift Valley communities have benefited from the state largesse and political patronage as often perceived, but they are always painted by the same brush because the rhetoric used by their ruling elites confirm these fears for other Kenyans. For instance, politicians from Central Province urged their co-ethnic vote to the last person to protect 'their presidency', and such statements imply that everyone stands to benefit, but the reality shows the contrary. The elites from the two communities that have ruled Kenya since independence often colluded to protect their wealth (land) – a wealth basically in the hands of a few – at the expense of their co-ethnics who continue to live in squalid conditions in many urban areas in Kenya. Here too lies the hypocrisy, for instance among the intellectuals from Central, Rift Valley, and Coast provinces who do not dare tell it as it is. This silence is what creates a mythical gap being exploited by the political elite, through rhetoric that pits these communities against others. The wrong things done in the name of these communities have to be exposed for other Kenyans to know that they suffer just as much as their counterparts in the regions where the ruling elites originate.
The ruling elite and a middle-class preoccupied with primitive capital accumulation by any means are what is behind the problems in Kenya, especially on the issue of corruption, the stagnation in the democratisation process, nation-building and cohesion. Kenya is a developing African country endowed with significant human capital which it can utilise for its prosperity. If these two groups were visionary and progressive, the reform process could have been on track, but because they are schooled in the old framework where wealth creation is guided by a stomach philosophy, there will always be obstacles to reform in Kenya. The character of those who were part of the second liberation has shown a changed language, tone and colour once in power, something which further dampens the hope of a sustained democratic transition and the establishment of an equitable society in Kenya.
The problems bedevilling Kenyan today, especially in relation to social justice, were raised earlier on by the likes of Bildad Kaggia, Oginga Odinga, J.M. Kariuki and Seroney among others. Those who have attempted to raise similar concerns in recent times, especially on the devolution of resources, have been branded Majimboists, or power hungry, seeking to grab power through the back door.
Even in the context of a plural society where political competition is the norm, the Kenyan elite, whose psyche is often clouded by ethnic chauvinism, continues to flagrantly display insincerity and hypocrisy on issues that they themselves have at one time defended when it suits them and rejected when it does not. It baffles many minds when analysis of where the political problems that bedevil Kenya are often skewed to defend partisan interests that have nothing to do with ordinary members of the communities from which the ruling elite originate. Here too one would question the intelligentsia of these elites, because any critical mind, be it a mind for making money or gaining power to make money or protect the already acquired wealth, would think strategically and long-term. In other words, this would be a realisation that such a status quo cannot continue for long and if it is upset, then they and their communities are the mostly likely to suffer, depending on the nature and way in which societal transformation in Kenya might take place (peacefully or otherwise). They could adopt the old adage of 'eat and let eat', or just disburse some portions of the booty to keep the rest busy.
It is undoubtedly true that it is the same elite that owns the major investments in Kenya, the skyscrapers in Nairobi, posh beach hotels in Mombasa and large swathes of farm land in different agriculturally viable areas in Kenya. Yet it is surprising that the same class has failed to secure their long-term interests by ensuring that other Kenyans get their share in the form of small projects such as health centres, roads and funds to start one's own business. The Kenyan elite could therefore have more space for their accumulation and protection of the same. The history of the developed countries in Europe points to a paradigm shift by those who were in charge of capital (the 'old money'), who saw the sense in allowing the welfare system to be introduced, reasons that have been captured in political science and historical analyses of socio-economic and political development in Europe. In the current state in Kenya one might even say that they need this strategy in order to have space to keep eating or looting without much fury from the masses or diplomats and development agencies who oversee their interests in Kenya. However, here too lies the problem of deep slumber, ignorance and lethargy in the Kenyan masses that have been pacified for too long, to such an extent that within their different communities today, they would still kill a neighbour for reasons that they cannot explain.
THE LAND QUESTION
The truth with regard to the land question – in Central province, for instance – is that there is no Luo, Somali, Ogiek, Digo, Rendile, Borana, Abagusi or Kenyan Indian who grabbed land in that province when the British settlers partially left the region. The fact is that land did not revert to its original owners, some of whom were killed in the numerous massacres and atrocities by the British forces operating in the region, or later displaced by the new colonialists who are sons of Central Province. Jomo Kenyatta in this context betrayed the Mau Mau and the landless freedom fighters through such conspiracies as willing seller–buyer in order to buy back land which was stolen by settlers.
The draconian land laws based upon the Crown Lands Ordinance of 1915 are also what underpin the outrageous grants of agricultural leases for such periods as 99 or 999 years for settlers, whilst local populations went without even space to grow food. The Ndungu report on illegal and irregular allocation of public land provides an insight into this episode of the struggles over ‘land’ and ‘graft’ in Kenya, and anyone who might not want to face this truth is being ignorant of real issues that upset Kenyan society, some of which underpin the recurrent land clashes during elections and the restitution demanded by the victims of land grabbing in Kenya. As long as no one wants to face the truth that the rightful owners of land taken by the British settlers and Kenyan elite from Central, Rift Valley and Coast provinces, are those who bore the brunt of such annihilation, either as dead souls or grandchildren still languishing in various schemes as squatters in different parts of Kenya, long-lasting peace and coexistence in some parts of Kenya and even in the country as whole might just be an illusion.
POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC MARGINALISATION
Marginalisation in Kenya has taken many forms. however, the two major ones are economic and political. The two are key in that they go hand-in-hand as far as who partakes in the process and resource allocation is concerned. These two factors have shaped what is available or not in any region in Kenya in terms of basic services such as schools infrastructure and finance for small enterprises and local production in terms of the development of different agricultural and natural resources in regions whose inhabitants are seen as enemies or members of the opposition. There are several examples of the exclusionary characteristics of Kenyan politics if seen within the context of political and economic marginalisation. Culturally, the constant references to physical markings and initiation rights to justify exclusion and marginalisation is common knowledge, yet even those who share the same traditional practices often fall out when the politically expedient use of such characterisation has been realised. For instance the Masaai, Turkana, Ogieks, Luhya, Samburu, Kamba, Somali and the Mijikenda who go through the same rituals have been some of the most marginalised in all spheres since Kenya’s independence, so where is the argument for their man and womanhood informed by the nature of rituals they have gone through?
Discrimination and internal marginalisation also exist within the same communities, contrary to claims that if one of their own is in power then his co-ethnics stand to benefit. Furthermore, politicians from the same region or ethnic groups are often used against their own or against other communities through political patronage, which has been one tool used in controlling communities. The politics of use-and-dump in its extreme form in Kenya has often culminated in the deaths of prominent members of some communities that are assumed unlikely to revenge or revolt. It has been the main tool for bringing down opponents, or propping up individuals and the manipulation of their communities, to toe the line, if one of their own is on board. But appointment to the cabinet does not translate into any communal benefit, yet Kenyans are always made to believe in this myth, to the detriment of their community development which a right and not a privilege.
The other area of marginalisation and one which is critical is in the distribution of resources, often in the form of development projects, infrastructure and the provision of basic services such as schools, health centres and nursery schools. With many communities deprived of these fundamental developmental inputs, there is a high degree of vulnerability, especially in terms of poverty levels, and disease, as shown in the case of North Eastern and Nyanza provinces, where such services have never existed or ceased to exist four decades ago. These skewed allocations can be traced to the government departments and ministry budgetary allocations meant for infrastructure development in different parts of the country. It is an issue which has been highly politicised and linked to the protest votes in 2002 and 2007 against community or elites from the ruling community, yet not given much attention.
Another example of political and economic marginalisation is the intentional stifling of the economies of certain regions, especially those that have been perceived as enemies or in the opposition. To toe the line as demanded by the politics of patronage in Kenya meant that whole communities and their leaders had to align themselves with the ruling elite or party in order to access the very basic services which are their rightful claims as Kenyan citizens.
Here we have seen the demise of the fishing industry in Lake Victoria as women sit for whole days waiting for trucks from Nairobi and Thika to buy their fish at throwaway prices due to lack of cold storage facilities. The same applies to fishing on Lake Turkana and along the Kenyan coast from Lamu to Shimoni. There is also the strangling of sugar farmers in Nyanza and western provinces through imports of the crop by elites and the death of sugar farming in Ramisi in Coast Province. Cotton production in Nyanza died 30 years ago, yet an activity which could have spurred economic growth in the region and urban areas where textile industries such as Rivatex and KICOMI were located.
In Coast Province, the cashew nut and salt industries have not been developed that much to uplift the living conditions of its inhabitants. While in areas where tea, coffee and pyrethrum are grown and dairy farming takes place, farmers received STABEX funding and loans were written off in 2003 to the tune of millions, yet their counterparts in Nyanza, North Eastern, Eastern and Coast provinces never had those subsidies. Close scrutiny of which regions have been served by National, Kenya Commercial Bank and the Agriculture Finance Corporation in terms of loans made available to local communities in different parts of Kenya will show that these lending institutions are more active in some regions that others. Whether this is a policy choice or intentional omission is yet to be explained, even in parliament. Therefore arguments that some communities are either lazy or incapable of effective economic engagement are all baseless and largely intended to spread the notion that only certain communities are hardworking and thus a justification for the status quo. Were there an equal playing field in which loans were made available to all farmers, business-men and -women, juakali artisans and other small enterprises from all parts of Kenya, who were supported by equal infrastructure for intensive production yet who nonetheless failed to make use of such opportunities, only then would there be the justification that some communities are more hardworking than others.
The issues around Mungiki and similar groups, high levels of crime in urban centres and even in rural areas, the high unemployment rate among the youth and the desperate actions of many Kenyans to secure their livelihoods in the context of politically motivated exclusion and marginalisation have their roots in the wrong start in Kenya immediately after independence. With the gap between the rich increasingly reaching alarming proportions, a sound system of governance and the use of national resources for the benefit of all Kenyans are the only remedy to the bleak future that Kenya as a nation faces in terms of the threats posed by its internal contradictions and historical injustices. And any political party or leader not paying attention to this is just exacerbating the already vulnerable situation in Kenya today.
There is no valid point in explaining these problems using colonialism as an excuse. The case of the miscarriage of justice in the case of the grandson of the colonial rancher Lord Delamare points to the colonial legacy which is very alive in the post-colonial Kenya where the ruling elite are the beneficiaries of the draconian laws and the status quo.
Forty-six years is too long for a country to keep crying over issues that it could directly address without looking sideways if there is the political will and ability of the national leadership to grasp the long-term communal and national interests. It is not possible in any modern society that someone can kill two unarmed and defenceless human beings and the matter treated so lightly as if the person just killed two birds in shooting practice. That is only possible in Kenya where the political and judicial systems seems to serve the interests of the elite – both local and international – whose interests often converge in a very intricate relationships that have their roots in the historical injustices in Kenya.
The Tom Cholmondeley case is just one of the many examples of how far things have gone wrong in Kenya, especially the culture of impunity which is mainly an elite privilege. These happenings are not bypassing the ordinary person, they are watching hence developing a tendency to take law into their own hands when redress in the courts prove futile. Cholmondeley could have been one of the most humble persons of British origin in Kenya as way of appreciating the wealth which the Masaai and Kalenjin communities have bequeathed on his family. He could do this by sharing this wealth or just allowing people living around his 3,000-hectare ranch to access the few natural water points that are now part of his property. Cholmondeley’s case mirrors ‘a distinctly colonial view of the rule of law, which saw the British leave behind legal systems that facilitated tyranny, oppression and poverty rather than open, accountable government’ as noted by Elkins. But it is not only a problem with Tom Cholmondeley; there are local Kenyan Cholmondeleys, both in Central, Rift Valley and Coast provinces, whose sense of communal interests is long gone.
Displacements and evictions in many regions in Kenya are often motivated by elite interests in certain prime plots – whether public or otherwise – and many Kenyans have taken all these in a prostrate position in the past. However, times have changed and people are beginning to react and the unfortunate thing is that this reaction might be brought under control, depending on its magnitude. In short Kenyans may not be able to stoop too low too long, as shown by the recent post-election violence. One may want the world to believe that it was ethnic violence, however the truth is that Kenyans are disillusioned and have very little hope in the national leadership and the elite who have time and again manipulated their vulnerable conditions for political expediency. This vulnerability is exemplified by the acts of such immortal beings as Tom Cholmondeley and the Kenyan elite of his ilk who were behind some of the post-election atrocities. In this regard, genuine reforms in Kenya are only likely when the local ruling elite and middle-class experience some pain, especially in the event of a disruption of the status quo and their current comfortable lifestyle in Nairobi.
WHICH WAY TO GO?
I wish to highlight a few issues that must be addressed if one would want to envision a long-lasting peace in Kenya or even a united country. This is not a doomsday prophecy but a realistic assessment which has been repeated time and again after some level of normalcy returned, with Kofi Annan’s intervention.
The first point is that any person or a community whose daughter or son or party may ascend to the political power in Kenya must seek ways and means of addressing the historical injustices in Kenya? That is, finding ways of restitution in the context of landlessness and squatter conditions caused by the unlawful and immoral acquisition of land belonging to ordinary Kenyans in Central Province, Rift Valley and Coast Provinces by the elite regardless of their ethnic background. They should either pay for those parcels at the market rate and the money be used to compensate the victims of their acts and those of the British, or the government of the day should repossess them and redistribute them equally, because there is no justification for owning 3,000 hectares of land which one never bought from its original owners in the first place or owning such land while millions do not even have a place to put up a house in their own place of birth.
Alternatively, the government may find money to compensate the victims of this horrific act in Kenyan history. The argument for the right to private property does not hold any water in Kenya and must be addressed head on by opening a new chapter, including the reversal of the unlawful and immoral leases of 99 and 999 years given to some people in Kenya. I say this because any close scrutiny of land or property ownership in Kenya will show that land owned by individuals in most urban areas and prime agricultural areas are fraudulently acquired and the papers and title deeds often flashed in the face of public outcry are not often genuinely and honestly acquired. The original maps showing city planning and so on are also clear on this, yet no one is prepared to accept that truth as various forces and interests keep fiddling with official records at the Ministry of Land. The farms that the British settlers left after the so-called £20 million compensation are in the hands of a few people who were not even residents of those locations by virtue of birth or ancestral connection, and if they acquired them through purchase, none of them has shown any proof of the price paid and which government authority authorised such a purchase and on what grounds. These suggestions may sound radical or even impractical, but it is better to face the truth and pain of accepting this reality. Without doing something about the land issue, no matter where, Kenyans will not have any peaceful coexistence, especially now that so much blood has been shed over land.
The second point is that every community in Kenya must wake up to the reality that Kenya belongs to all who belong in it and that anyone from one of the numerous communities can ascend to its leadership if he or she has the qualities to fill such a position. Any myth that puts 'us against them' or implies that only certain groups have more claim to the independence struggle and its fruits are hypocritical insinuations that will continue to breed hatred. Eventually, such hatred will explode once ignited by other circumstantial factors, especially those that relate to deprivation, marginalisation and insecure livelihoods. The elite who are managing the country in the name of their ethnic groups are not helping any member of those groups. Instead they are creating hatred and enmity that might be silent for a while only to explode during an electioneering period. The arrogance and blatant looting of public coffers and open defence of such culprits in the name of a community and open tribalism in public service appointments are some examples of the hypocrisy that does not augur well for Kenya’s future. No sane person would literally stuff a whole ministry with people from his ethnic group, no matter how qualified they are. This is a sign of arrogance, which Kenyans tolerated under duress during the Kenyatta and Moi administrations, but their objections to such political immorality only appears in situations where they take matters into their own hands. It is the ruling elite of whichever ethnic group that is in power that always incites Kenyans to violence through their rhetoric, arrogant actions and massive looting of public coffers, or skewed allocation of resources. This is incensed by the fact that many communities have not seen a nursery school or health centre for the better part of Kenya’s 46 years of independence.
The third point is that it is only through the establishment of a system which provides for equity in the distribution of national resources and development opportunities; for institutional effectiveness, efficiency, and insulation from the executive and foolproof accountability; that will respect and guarantee the democratic rights of all Kenyans in their choice of leadership at all times and that is all-inclusive and addresses the diverse nature of the Kenyan polity – one in which the citizens will not mind who is in power, but are still guaranteed of service delivery regardless of their ethnic background – that past injustices can be remedied and the country kept together. Anything short of this will push Kenya closer to the edge of the cliff. Ordinary Kenyans have very painful experiences with bad leadership, political betrayal, political corruption, dictatorships and violence that transcend all areas of their lives. They experience these in their homes, in the hands of the state, through corporal punishment in schools and harrowing experiences in the hands of criminals.
The fourth and most important point is that the government of the day should start addressing the potential of all regions by focusing on how to exploit such potential. Dry regions in Kenya can still have water if there is the political will. There is water in Lake Victoria which can reach North Kenya, to the Samburu, Turkana, Somali and Ukambani regions where drought and hunger are part and parcel of life despite 46 years of Kenya’s independence. These people cannot live in such a condition any longer; they are more aware of the inequalities in Kenya and what causes them through the media and increased mobility, therefore any lies to the contrary will not hold any more than handouts and relief food during electioneering periods will. Their level of consciousness is not the same as in the 1960s and in the 1970s or during the Moi dictatorship in the 1980s when they could not make their voices heard. Furthermore, there is no justification for an oil pipeline from Mombasa to Western Kenya and not one for water the other way round. The question of cost cannot be an excuse here because it is the life and well being of millions of Kenyans that is at stake. Therefore any investment to secure livelihoods is justified beyond economic reasoning.
Some of these projects could even be the breakthrough points for Kenya’s proper economic growth and wishes to realise the millennium development goals (MDGs) in the long term. Nyanza has great potential to provide Kenya with sugar, alcohol energy, fish for domestic consumption and export, cotton for the textile industry and horticulture. Eastern Province can become a second breadbasket for Kenya with its fruits, horticulture and mining while also providing exports. Northern Kenya has the potential for cement production, mineral exploration and as a transport corridor to Central and Northern Africa, connecting them with the Indian Ocean. The pastoral communities in Northern Kenya could be another source of domestic, regional and international meat and sufficient leather for foreign exchange and the transformation of lives in those communities, if there was the political will. Central Province and Rift Valley could still play major roles by focusing on cash crops from those regions, while also serving domestic needs, but even more so if they were supported with funding to modernise their production and processing of these products in order to fetch good prices on the international market. Such initiatives will create jobs and secure livelihoods, thus reducing the conflict that is often exacerbated by struggle and competition for scarce land and other resources in those regions and the impact of climate change affecting food production in many parts of Kenya today.
Finally it should be emphasised that to continue ignoring these concerns would not auger well for the stability of the nation. Power struggles that have been there since the first republic are increasingly becoming transformational in character, and the ethnic card has been one of the main tools of trade. However, the class issue must also be incorporated into the analysis in order to understand the extent of the rot in governance in Kenya. After 46 years and quite an advanced level of education and literacy in Kenya, one would expect the political elite not to fail to address the major issues affecting their communities and society in general.
The recent power-sharing arrangement and current coalition government being tried are not long-lasting solutions. Their usefulness in the Kenyan context is almost over since the nature of Kenyan political practice lacks the decorum and principles that could build on such mechanisms to address pressing leadership crises, nation-building and cohesion. The Kenyan political elite is very much focused on capital accumulation at any cost and by all means necessary, hence the ineptitude and laziness. In most cases, it seems like a conscious decision not to upset the status quo or attempt to address the fundamental institutional and constitutional issues which could pave the path for a progressive society, and for posterity. The wrangles in the coalition are examples of the failure of the Kenyan elite to think long-term and to moderate their appetite for wealth. For this reason, the responsibility lies with the Kenyan masses to wake up and take charge of their destiny.
However, the major obstacle to any major change from below is the fact that the collusion of the Kenyan ruling elite and their insatiable appetite for quick wealth will keep obstructing any attempt by the ordinary citizenship to effect change in Kenya. The local elite, which is not only confined to politicians but also includes elite civil society representatives and the so-called Kenyan middle-class, is also a major stumbling block, especially when one may begin to ask for a new crop of leaders to emerge and fill the gaps left by the past and current letdowns. The development partners may support civil society activities to influence the reform agenda, but this is also a symbiotic relationship whose outcome always maintains the status quo even if there are sometimes significant incremental gains, such as an expansion of the space for alternative voices. Kenya’s strategic geopolitical position might sometimes be its undoing, since external interests may opt for the current order over upsetting the status quo which serves many interests in Kenya and in the region.
However there is still some hope, but in my view a much more painful experience is what might lead to a change of hearts and minds and force Kenyans to have paradigm shift on how they relate with each other. Nothing else except for something dramatic and much more painful and hard-hitting on the elite and middle-class in Kenya will force them to change their behaviour, since everything has gone back to business-as-usual even after what happened during the post-election violence. The victims of the post-election violence were ordinary Kenyans and not the elite, hence the reluctance to change. Violence in Nairobi was largely confined to the suburbs, leaving the elite neighbourhoods untouched, including the extravagant lifestyle in the posh modern malls within their exclusive and high-walled residential areas. I say this because if the violence had had any impact, or if the elite had been starved of their daily extravagance and their children deprived of milk supplies, among other things, then the political elite would have changed tack for the sake of their wealth and there would be no IDPs (internally displaced persons) still in camps and a blueprint for equal distribution of resources would have been made and implemented, even if in phases, and a speedy, genuine truth and reconciliation process would have been instituted. Kenyans would have changed their language to something different from what is currently found on various blogs and news commentaries in the three Kenyan dailies, where the rhetoric is not that different from the referendum period in 2005 or prior to the 2007 general elections. You can only imagine what might happen in 2012 if agenda four is not implemented and business-as-usual is not brought to a halt.
* Antony Otieno Ong’ayo is a researcher at the African Diaspora Policy Centre and the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.