By Gabrial Pager Ajang
March 15, 2013 (SSNA) — The imperialism and colonialism spearheaded by the German, British and French governments created social-economic and political perils in Africa. The geographical continent of Africa was curved at the Berlin Conference without natives’ consent. The Frence’s policy of Assimilation made the rich and resourceful Democratic Republic of Congo a skirmish ground for natives and western powers striving for their industries. German authority engrained racial division between Hutu and Tutsi before they left Rwanda and Belgium took over, and as consequences of this deep seated hatred imbedded between tribes, Rwanda Genocide occurred. Kenya continues to be haunted by politics of divides and rules imposed upon them by England. Nevertheless, the western leaders have been blaming African leaders for the last 50 years of the pervasive corruptions, bad governance, tribalism, political instability, and poverty. Interestingly enough, European left pseudo authorities to govern Africans and today, it is not known whether these states are completely independence. How can African leaders repair devastating endemic policies that were forced upon citizens and implemented for more than 150 years? Isn’t this a time for Europeans to abort the double standard and hypocrisy, greed and self-interest programs that victimized Africans citizens? The European’s economic, and political saga in Africa is simply disserved to citizens.
I will leave the above discussions for the world scholars to piece the dots and charter new political, economic and social discourses that would probably allow African states to flourish at this contemporary society. However, this paper will seek to investigate 2007 Kenya’s post election violence, the conditions susceptible to violence, and International Criminal Court case against the President-elect, Uhuru Kenyatta. There is no doubt that the post-election violence was tragic and sad because people lost their lives. We have mourned the love ones. As a south Sudanese who have survived two wars in Ethiopia and Sudan, I do understand the magnitude of tragedy and effect of violence. As refugee, I have lived in Kenya for ten years. This is a country that offered me refuge at the time of conflict and strong foundation educational foundation. I dearly hold Kenya as my new home besides South Sudan and United States. I congratulate Uhuru Kenyatta for his victorious elections. I also commend all Kenyans for holding fair, peaceful and transparent elections. This was my wishes and desire of many people who love peace.
The election of Uhuru defies ICC case against Kenyans senior officials. This weak allegation against him defeats the premise of ICC existence. The least that I would want to see is a collection of failed colonists meddling in Kenyan affairs. The Kenya-post election violence was not generated by the accused senior officials. Arguably, the violence came as a consequence of divides and rules, a disastrous policy established in Kenya by England and it continues to fuel tribalism. This hundred and fifty year’s old policy of divides and rules is the sole reason why Kenyans major tribes have been voting on tribal lines. British or Europeans as a whole have never had ideas that would unite African tribes. Hence, ICC must drop case against the President elect, Uhuru Kenyatta because it will undermine his ability to perform and discharge his duties as the president of the Republic of Kenya. This case will create more problems and violence than it solves. If Europeans wanted to be part of the solutions in Africa, I urge them to pressurize the ICC in order to clear all the Kenyan’s senior officials instantaneously.
It does not matter what criteria ICC justice uses to consider their cases, the post-election violence or riot does not fit the ICC high profile cases. It is a low profile case that can be resolved Kenyans. It is significantly important to point out that there have been violence and riots in Arab world, Europe and Latin America where hundreds of people have been killed last year, and there were no single incident that was taken on by the ICC. The European targeting the Kenyatta dynasty is reminiscent of new colonialism in Kenya. It is a disturbing trend to see 99% of all the ICC indictment and prosecution came from African nations.
To the ICC credit, individuals from Rwanda, Congo, Mali and Liberia who were accused of orchestrated genocide have been indicted, prosecuted and served their Jail terms. Government officials accused of war crimes in the Arab World, Europe and Asia are still in large. The president of Sudan, Omar el Bashir, for instance is on the loose. This man mastermind genocide in Darfur and continues to kill and incite ethnic violence in Nuba Mountain, Darfur and Blue Nile. ICC is in a complete fiasco unless they launch strong political alliances to bring men that commit heinous crime to justice. It would also be far better, if the ICC has tools and means its use to bring perpetrators to books. European leaders and ICC can be part of resolutions rather creating more glitches in Africa.
However, liberal democracy is inherently different in African countries due to major issues such as the importance of tribal identity, bad governance, and corruptions. Democratic elections increase political violence in African’s countries especially where poverty has been hitting hard. Instead of the ICC rushing to judgment and blaming Uhuru Kenyatta for post-election violence in 2007, the ICC would have looked at the conditions that led to violence. These conditions that exacerbate violence in Africa increases in pre-and post-elections because incumbent can potentially to dismantle their opposition through association, high level of arrests. An incumbent has power to decide or reject the results when he/she lost the election. An incumbent manipulate election and create ethnic conflict because there is no democratic institutions and constitutions that have been well structured to establish accountability.
Conditions that Led to 2007 Kenya Post-election Violence
The colonial powers in Africa failed to establish better institutions of democracy and a far better constitution that would govern all citizens regardless of tribes or religions. The legacy of Europeans powers undermines the viability of democracy in African. In 2007, Kenya held a presidential election. The two candidates that contested for office were President Mwai Kibaki and opposition candidate Raila Odinga. The incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, was declared as the winner by the Kenyan Electoral Commission. The opposition supporters, angered by alleged electoral manipulation by President Kibaki, incited violence that affected thousands of people. The President-Elect Uhuru never perpetrated post-election riot. The following conditions caused violence in Kenya during presidential elections, and these hypotheses apply to any country colonized by Europeans:
1) There is more violence in settler state because of colonialism legacy created bad governance, political instability, corruption, authoritarian, and military coup in the country. The politics of divide and rule installed in Kenya by England increases ferocity in 2007 Kenya election between Kikuyu and Luya.
2) The colonial politics of divides and rules, resulted into a deep seated hatred that increases mounting insecurity and heightened fear could lead to more vehemence. The fear of being in secured accelerates the speed of acquiring weapons for defensive and offensive purposes. Hence, it causes insecurity among citizens that incompetent government is unable to restore confident in government.
3) There is more violence in states that have economic depression: a government failure contributes to economic development had completely failed agricultural. The failure to improve the foreign and domestic investments caused high inflation and spike unemployment that contribute to more violence and political instability.
4) There is more violence in state when there is unfair distribution of wealth and political power: because portion of society benefited from national resources at the expense of others. It is worth noting that most of government steals millions of dollars from citizens each year. The culture of corruption had permeated almost all the African state governments can be traced to Europeans exploitation of raw materials in Africa.
5) There is more violence when ethnic groups are regionally divided, an idea that can be traced back to Berlin Conference: hence, most candidates in Kenyan are supporting by their tribe for example, incumbent Mwai Kibaki was supporting in 2008 election by his tribe, which is the largest tribe in Kenya. And this voting on a tribal line and failure to recognize common values, and one people combined in a destiny of mutual benefit causes increases violence among tribes.
Concurrently, corruption permeated most of African governments. Most leaders seek power in the government for the purpose of getting rich in short time. In this contact, I do blame African leaders for continuing Europeans colonial legacy, and failed to create a system or established good governance so that their predecessors can follow. The Europeans were in Africa to exploit raw material: African vital natural resources for their own benefit. To make matter worse, Europeans had left Africa with no systems establish for maintenance of law and order. As a result, the continent is now known for conflict and tension among tribes and deep division that causes more violence acts each year.
The violence conflict that engulfed Kenya after the disputed presidential election in December 2007/8 provoked widespread concern because until then Kenya was widely viewed as a rare bastion of political stability and economic prosperity in Africa. That outbreak and spread of the violence highlighted something gone wrong in Kenya. Violent clashes had been reported in Kenya during the 1992 and the 1997 elections and this violence occur in the Rift Valley province. The Rift Valley is the region with most political violence in the country because it has a multi-ethnic region, it has the largest share of total national votes and parliamentary constituencies, which make it attractive to politicians’ to participate for government’s seats. Rift Valley has largest Kenyan population and most of wealthy and senior political are living there.
We cannot underestimate the colonial rule and African actions during the colonial period affected the resources and institutional settings for economic development in the sub- Sahara Africa. Not only Kenya, people are suffering from colonial legacy across the continent. The colonial legacy has had a powerful and lasting impact on people.
For many years, African trade and businesses have been shaped by political instability and economic depression. African states have never been free from former colonists’ influences. However, it is not actually known whether they have gained complete or partial independence. It is absolutely a responsibility of the Kenyan government to secure its destiny and address the issue of insecurity so its economy flourishes and finds political solutions to violence. However, the President-elect Uhuru has pledged to effectively resolve national issues in the best way possible, and implement new constitution.
Concurrently, the Kenyan institutions of democracy require comprehensive transformation for all citizens to realize principles of democracy. The new Kenya’s constitution would bring the end of the violence that occurred during the 2008 presidential election, so that violence would not repeat itself again. The conflict that started in 2008 during the presidential election was not exacerbated by Uhuru, but it is rooted in inequality, extreme poverty, poor governance and a lot of other issues, such as the constitution. The country practice bad governance such unfair distribution of powers, government positions, corruption, and legacy of British colonialism. Adoption of this new constitution will bring about political and economic stability in Kenya. Countries learned from their history, the Kenyans have learned from their mistakes that occurred in the 2008 election.
In Kenya, British legacy created tribal identity that negatively affects Kenyan’s society and African continent in general. Tribalism is even more troubling than a national identity in Kenya. People are divided by tribes and races in the country. Because of tribal loyalty, most of Kenya’s land, business owner or even the government is dominated by one tribe and the rests are living in frustration and anger. Most of Kenya’s problems always involved disparities in wealth and tribal division. Kenyans gap between social classes because some areas have developed and have more wealthy people than other areas. The senior officials focus on themselves than to deliver services to its citizens. Most of rural areas are relying for small assistance from the government.
It is certainly accurate that more people are suffering from colonial legacies and government deprivation from enjoying institutional democracy. Liberal democracy is inherently different in African countries due to major issues such as the importance of tribal identity and bad governance.
Besides poverty that brought insecurity and conflict to Kenya, it is clear that the interplay between economic, social and political factors that have contributed to crime and state insecurity. Inequality always leads to conflict and contributory factor in exacerbating crime in the state. Conflict among rural communities increased dramatically because poverty and inequality have rampage. It is importance for country to have better institution that governs its citizens. Because the state has thus failed to provide a general peace and security, people had a feeling that the law being applied in a discriminatory manner and that they are abandoned and unprotected. The country can be peaceful if there is security in place. During Kenyatta presidency, Kenyans fight for over half a century to dispel the darkness and injustice of colonialism. Kenyatta, the father founding father of Kenya showed love and affection on all; Kenyatta upheld the democratic principle of one man one vote. Furthermore, Arap Moi kept the country united, ended the powerful Kikuyu domination of Kenya’s politics and business, and put in place a multi-partism system. In addition, in 1992, demonstrations and riots broke out which put extreme pressure on president, Moi to allow multiparty elections to operate in Kenya. Today, there are more than two major parties and over 38 registered political parties are operated. This Torch has been passed to Uhuru Kenyatta; and I urge the United States government, Germany, Britain, and France to support Uhuru Kenyatta to lead a Unite, peaceful and prosperous Kenya to a better future.
The author holds BA, MPA and PhD student. He can be reached @ [email protected]