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Pambazuka News 340: Violence in Kenya must stop now

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  • Janet Feldman
    Dear Friends, Excellent issue of Pambazuka, and I will contact Firoze abt our POP, as I know him! They have a large readership and can give us some great
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 30, 2008
      Dear Friends,

      Excellent issue of Pambazuka, and I will contact Firoze abt our POP, as I
      know him! They have a large readership and can give us some great
      exposure, so hope they will! Janet

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Firoze Manji" <fmanji@...>
      To: <pambazuka-news@...>
      Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 1:43 AM
      Subject: Pambazuka News 340: Violence in Kenya must stop now


      The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for
      social justice in Africa

      Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

      With nearly 500 contributors and an estimated 500,000 readers
      Pambazuka News is the authoritative pan African electronic weekly
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      CONTENTS: 1. Editors corner, 2. Features, 3. Comment and analysis, 4.
      Pan-African Postcard, 5. Books and arts, 6. African Writers Corner

      Support the struggle for social justice in Africa. Give generously!

      Donate at: http://www.pambazuka.org/en/donate.php

      Highlights from this issue

      EDITORS CORNER: The Violence Must Stop Now

      FEATURE: Women’s Memorandum to the Mediation Team


      - Statement on Kenya by Senator Barrack Obama
      - Ali Mazrui and David Ohito on Kenyan violence
      - All Africa Conference of Churches on the post-election crisis

      PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD: Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem on Sudan and the AU Chair

      AFRICAN WRITER'S CORNER: Poem by Mshairi

      BOOKS AND ARTS: Review of Fahamu’s “From Slave Trade to Free Trade.”

      1 Editors corner
      Firoze Manji and Mukoma Wa Ngugi

      Each people at some point in history are threatened by great social
      upheaval. It is usually an accumulation of smaller events, seen and
      ignored, an accumulation of injustices that erupt at that present
      moment - a delayed consequence from history.

      Whether a nation plunges into bloodshed depends on the leadership and
      whether they have the political imagination to deal with history that
      has caught up with their present times.

      So in the France of the 18th Century, the revolutionary leadership
      answered the civil war with the guillotine. In Rwanda the answer was
      the genocidaires machete and the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s gun. In
      the Congo, at the cost of over six million lives since 1994, the
      issue has as yet to be settled.

      Kenya finds itself in such a decisive moment - the slide to a civil
      war along ethnic lines is in motion, but it has not yet accelerated
      to catch with up Rwanda - or indeed Bosnia and Serbia where ethnic
      ‘cleansing’ of populations was carried out. But the violence is
      getting a furious rhythm of revenge and counter revenge.

      The small window history had left us, of past cooperation and anti-
      colonial resistance across ethnic lines, is closing fast.

      Reports and documents we have received here at Pambazuka News
      indicate that the Gikuyu community is being galvanized, ostensibly to
      defend the Gikuyu community. At least two documents are currently
      circulating in Kenya and amongst the Kenyan diaspora that can be
      described only as hate literature.

      One purporting to be the declaration of 500 supporters of GEMA in the
      UK incites Kikuyus to provide funds for the ‘war’. “… if you don't
      join and register at this crucial time you are of no use to the
      community,” they threaten. Another document, purporting to come from
      the ‘The Thagicu Renaissance Movement’ names a host of human rights
      activists – including the head of the Kenyan National Commission for
      Human Rights – as ‘traitors’.

      In their turn, a hate statement of a similar kind has been published
      by a group calling themselves ‘Kalenjin Online’ (http://
      kalenjin.html) state “We shall defend ourselves and our interests to
      the bitter end. If they [the Kikuyu] want to bring clashes to
      Nairobi, they can go ahead. They will regret why they ever started it
      in the first place. We urge our people to ensure that every family is
      fully equipped with our normal tools; if we can afford, ferry two
      warriors from upcountry fully armed and house them until we have this
      thing sorted out.” We have little doubt that similar hate literature
      from the Luo and other communities is also in circulation.

      The intention of such groups is to stir up hatred and raise finances
      to support the carnage that has been perpetrated by the organized
      armed militia in several parts of the country. The western media –
      especially the BBC – has sought to portray this as ‘tribal violence’,
      neatly side-stepping the need to assess the political motives of who
      is behind the armed militia, who benefits from creating a climate of
      fear and distrust, and who are behind the distribution of the hate
      literature that is currently circulating from all sides.

      But these are not ethnic clashes. These are acts of violence that are
      perpetrated by those who, devoid of any political solution to the
      crisis, reach for the ethnic card. But it isn’t all Kikuyus, or all
      Luos or all Kalenjins who have robbed others of their land or carried
      out massacres on each other. These crimes have been perpetrated by a
      minority who have reaped the fruits of land grabbing. This is no land
      reform program, but rather the incitement of hatred for political
      ends, and to allow a small elite to benefit. The fruits of Uhuru have
      long been enjoyed by that minority

      But in the present crisis, nobody will win – not even the rich who so
      far have been spared from the bloodshed. But as in all conflicts, it
      is the poor who will do the killing and the dying.

      One would expect leaders worth their people’s mandate to be using
      this space between ethnic killings and a full fledged civil war to
      provide a clear vision for the way forward and to speak to and beyond
      their immediate constituencies. But both Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga
      have hesitated instead of acting decisively, placing their self-
      interest before that of millions of their constituents. They have
      sought to use the crisis to maneuver better positions at the
      negotiation table. Both have been found wanting. Both claim victory
      in the presidential elections when it is abundantly clear that no one
      will ever know what the real result was.

      If peace is to be restored, there is an urgent need for the militia
      to be forcibly disarmed. There is an urgent need for the GSU to be
      pulled off the streets, and for the police to be restrained from
      acting judge, jury and executioner with impunity. There is an urgent
      need to bring to justice those responsible for human rights
      violations. Lifting the ban on live media coverage is vital so that
      all citizens can know what is happening in the country.

      And those responsible for the circulation of materials that incite
      ethnic hatred and conflict through hate radio; print media or the
      Internet should be immediately arrested and prosecuted. If either PNU
      or ODM were serious about the interests of the citizens of Kenya,
      these would be their immediate priorities. They would agree to the
      immediate formation of an interim government that would oversee the
      return to peace, disarming and bringing to account all those
      responsible for the crimes and carnage witnessed over the last month.
      But who will make them do this? Have we reached a level of
      humiliation that we are to be dependent on an outside force to
      intervene to sort out our mess?

      It is clear that the interests of citizens, whatever their political
      or other affiliations, are far from the minds of the leadership of
      PNU or ODM or any other of the ‘paper parties’. Citizens cannot stand
      by idle waiting for divine inspiration to hit the skulls of the
      leaders. It is time that the voices of citizens are heard. Are we
      going to sit watching while the carnage continues? We face a
      challenge: if our so-called leaders are unable to point the way
      forward for a solution, then isn’t it time that we found a way to
      discuss, debate and achieve consensus on what future we want? We did
      so at the Bomas conference. We can do so again.

      And that brings us to those many of us citizens in the diaspora - in
      Europe, USA and elsewhere. Are we going to add to the carnage by
      supporting those who have been circulating the kind of hate mail
      referred to above? Citizens in the diaspora have a critical role to
      play: we have duty of solidarity for all Kenyans, irrespective of
      their political beliefs, origins, cultural identity or creed.

      Our solidarity has to go out to those who have been injured, who have
      been evicted from their homes violently or who have fled in fear, to
      those families who have lost members of their families. We must
      vociferously oppose those amongst us who are seeking to divide us.
      Our distance from vortex of the crisis should allow us to think about
      constructive ways forward that are built on a respect for human
      dignity and justice for all. We can play a role in bringing peace
      through justice and truth. Or we can add to the spiral into civil war.

      To the international community and media, we say that you need to
      first and foremost understand that massacres against the Gikuyu, the
      Luo, the Kalenjin and others are politically motivated and pre-
      meditated acts of violence and terror. We have to name the problem
      correctly if we are to counter it. Calling the violence 'tribal
      clashes' only lends credibility to the genocadaires and gives their
      propaganda mileage. It sends the message to the aggrieved on all
      sides that there will be, and can be, no justice. It only strengthens
      the hands those who want to stir ethnic hatred for political ends.

      If we are to move ahead, we have to proclaim out loud: WE ARE ALL

      * Firoze Manji and Mukoma Wa Ngugi are Pambazuka News editors.

      * Please send comments to editor@... or comment online at

      2 Features
      Serena Hotel, Nairobi, January 25, 2008
      Kenyan Women's Consultation Group on the Current Crisis in Kenya

      Your Excellency Kofi Annan
      Your Excellency Graça Machel
      Your Excellency Benjamin Mkapa

      We thank Your Excellencies for the opportunity to address this forum.
      We make this presentation on behalf of Kenyan women who have been
      meeting in Nairobi over the last two weeks. Action Aid International,
      Vital Voices, UNIFEM, Nairobi Peace Initiative and Urgent Action Fund-
      Africa have facilitated the consultations. A committee of 11 women
      present here, represents the larger group.

      Kenyan women assert their rights as citizens of this country to
      participate in all political processes and initiatives that seek to
      find solutions to the crisis that currently that our beloved
      motherland faces. We are mindful of our special responsibilities in
      all the spheres of nation building including truth & justice seeking,
      peacebuilding and reconciliation. We embrace all our diversities as
      we collectively seek solutions. We acknowledge that in the resolution
      of the current conflict, there has to be ‘give and take’ from both
      sides of the political divide. We assert that as citizens we must
      take responsibility for resolving and transforming the conflict and
      the inclusion and participation of civic groups, including women’s
      groups at the community level is critical to the success of efforts
      to resolve the conflict.

      The important role of women’s participation in the prevention and
      resolution of conflicts is reaffirmed in The Constitutive Act of the
      African Union, The AU’s Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality, The
      Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of women in Africa, The
      African Charter on the Rights and welfare often Child, and by United
      Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. The resolution stresses the
      importance of women’s equal participation and involvement in all
      efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and
      the need to increase their role in decision –making with regard to
      conflict prevention.

      The UN Resolution 1325 further calls on all actors involved, when
      negotiating and implementing peace agreements, to adopt a gender
      perspective, including, inter alia

      a) The special needs of women and girls during repatriation and
      resettlement and for rehabilitation, reintegration and post conflict
      b) Measures that support local women’s peace initiatives and
      indigenous processes for conflict resolution, and that involve women
      in all of the implementation mechanisms of the peace process.
      c) Measures that ensure the protection of and respect for human
      rights of women and girls, particularly as they relate to the
      constitution, the electoral system, the police and the judiciary;
      All these instruments recognise the centrality of women to the
      development of democracy and democratic institutions and the
      importance of their participation at every level, and in every
      process. Women are central actors and ‘right holders’ in any process
      that addresses sustainable development, security and human rights.
      During this crisis, Kenyan women have been at the forefront in
      community peace building and mediation efforts in the North Rift and
      other areas.

      Is there a conflict? What are The Facts?

      A political crisis has engulfed the country following the
      announcement of presidential results on December 30, 2007.There are
      allegations of a flawed tallying process by the electoral
      commission , hence the dispute as to who the actual winner of the
      presidential vote was. As a consequence, violent conflict broke out
      in many parts of Kenya from December 30, 2008 and continues to this
      day. This conflict is expressed in the following ways:
      1. Spontaneous and organised demonstrations against the ECK and the
      2. Killings that have so far claimed the lives of over 700 Kenyans.
      These killings are by a) extra judicial executions by the police of
      targeted communities and demonstrators. b) Militia executions,
      torture and mutilations of civilians targeted at particular ethnic
      communities (these include forced circumcisions & castrations) and c)
      by ordinary citizens
      3. Criminal conduct by citizens looting, burning and destruction of
      private and public property.
      4. Increased sexual violence against women and children.
      5. Suspension of constitutional freedoms including the freedom of
      conscience, assembly and worship.
      6. Violation on the rights of the media and right to information by a
      ban on media broadcasting of live events.
      7. Ethnic and politically instigated evictions of populations of
      certain communities from their properties resulting in large numbers
      of internally displaced Kenyans ( approximately 260,000)
      8. Ethnically instigated employment displacement of workers in
      certain regions (tea peckers in Kericho) and eviction rental properties.
      This situation has resulted in:
      - A breakdown in the rule of law and a lack of confidence in
      institutions of law and order.
      - Breakdown of social relationships and trust among Kenyan
      Communities and an exacerbation of existing ethnic tensions.
      - Human insecurity (including food insecurity).
      - Continued systematic and widespread violation of human rights and a
      lack of respect for the sanctity of life.
      - Proliferation of propaganda by all parties including the state and
      an increase in hate media on all media (FM stations -in particular
      vernacular FM stations, print, electronic and new media -text
      messaging, email, internet) that demonises particular communities.

      What are the gender dimensions of the conflict?

      Institutionalised discrimination against women even before the
      current violence broke out has informed the expression on gender-
      based violence. Discriminatory laws sanction marginalisation and
      exclusion of women. Despite a 2006 presidential decree for a 30%
      inclusion of women in public institutions, there is no constitutional
      provision or law providing for affirmative action.

      Rapes and sexual violence on women and children has reportedly
      increased. Statistics from the Nairobi Women’s Hospital show a steep
      increase in admission and treatment for rape. Majority of the new
      cases since January 1 2008 are of victims of gang rapes. Increased
      exposure to HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.

      High levels of poverty and landlessness affect women disproportionately.

      Humanitarian Relief Aid

      The majority of displaced are women and children. Humanitarian Relief
      kits often fail to take account of the needs of women and children.
      There exists a gap in the provision of Sanitary towels, infant mix
      and Mosquito nets. Sanitation and hygiene needs of women in the camps
      require attention.

      Security in the camps and troubled areas is insufficient. Threats of
      gender specific attacks against women are high.

      People living with HIV/AIDS have had their treatment interrupted;
      Provision of Health services has been compromised. Access to PEP’s
      and immediate medical care fro rape victims’ non-existent. The
      closure of certain areas by security personnel has locked in
      populations from accessing health facilities.

      Recommendations on the resolving the Crisis

      A political solution backed by force of law that assures the following:
      - An immediate end to the killings.
      - A public acknowledgement by both parties that the current crisis
      was triggered by electoral malpractices in the tallying process that
      culminated with the announcement of results of the presidential
      election of December 2007.
      - An acknowledgement that Kenyans are entitled to know the truth and
      to seek justice over the issue having participated in the electoral
      process. The problem (and solution to it) is beyond the two political
      protagonists. Women as a group constitute 52% of Kenya’s population
      and the majority of voters and those most affected by the current
      - An independent investigation into the trigger event to establish
      the truth of what happened: the outcome of which should be tailored
      to establishing a political solution to the current impasse and
      restoring public confidence in Kenya’s institutions of democracy. Any
      agreement should be backed by force of law and ensure women’s
      participation as key actors.
      - Immediate reinstatement of constitutional freedoms – the right to
      assemble, right to worship, right of media to broadcast live events.
      Citizens have a right to assert their constitutional rights without
      - Cessation of violence against civilians by the police, militia and
      - Immediate cessation of hate propaganda currently on all media (by
      Legislation or administrative action).
      - Resettlement: should take account of the special needs of women and
      children displaced by the violence. State should provide security for
      the civilian population.
      - End to impunity for violations of human rights (by all parties) by
      investigating crimes that are being committed and prosecuting
      - Strengthening of institutions that support democratic
      constitutional governance (The Electoral Commission, the Judiciary,
      the Anti Corruption agencies and Parliament). This can be done
      through immediate legislative reform pending comprehensive
      constitutional reform.

      Medium and long term –Nation Building

      Women acknowledge that they must embark on a process of Nation
      building for sustainable peace to be achieved. Important mid-term
      solutions include the following: The times call for Women of Kenya
      call fro transformative leadership at this time that brings values
      and ethics to the management of public affairs

      - A minimum constitutional settlement and reform that would ensure an
      urgent reform of institutions that support a constitutional democracy
      grounded on sound legal framework followed by ;
      - Comprehensive Constitutional Reform that would ensure equitable
      distribution of national resources, gender equality, affirmative
      action, equal rights for minorities and persons with disabilities
      including rights political participation. .
      - Transitional Justice mechanisms that deal with the question of
      historical injustices that include gross human rights violations,
      massacre, assassinations, economic crimes and corruption , ethnic and
      political clashes .establishment a historical record, confronting and
      gaining truth about past injustices, creating accountability for
      human rights violations and ultimately reconciling Kenyan communities.
      - Finalisation and adoption of the Peace and Conflict Prevention Policy.
      - Peace education for prejudice reduction in primary schools.

      Recommendations for the Process

      - That there should be a mechanism for accountability by the
      mediation team to Kenyan women on the progress of the mediation. Such
      mechanism could be spelt out in a public mediation agreement.
      - That there should be continued engagement with women as key
      stakeholders in all stages of the mediation.
      - That a local gender advisor be appointed to provide the necessary
      expertise to the team of mediators. There is sufficient expertise
      within the women’s movement in Kenya in the fields of gender,
      children’s rights, women’s rights, and peace and conflict
      - Political parties should have women represented on their teams in
      keeping with the enabling instruments.
      - That the mediation continues until such time as peace is restored
      in Kenya.

      This statement is presented and signed by the Committee Nominated by
      the Women’s Organisations 25th January 2008 (For a List of women
      attending the Women’s consultations over the last three weeks, please
      contact Pambazuka News).

      1 Florence Mpaayei -- Nairobi Peace Initiative –Africa
      2 Atsango Chesoni --Member ODM and Consultant, Human Rights
      3 Njeri Kabeberi ---Center for Multi Party democracy
      4 Mildred Ngesa---Association of Media Women of Kenya
      5 Margaret Shava-- International Alert
      6 Catherine Mumma --Consultant, Human Rights & Governance
      7 Kaari Betty Murungi --Urgent Action Fund-Africa
      8 Saida Ali --Young Women’s Leadership Institute
      9 Rukia Subow --Maendeleo ya Wanawake
      10 Josephine Ojiambo – Member of PNU ‘s National Coordinating Committee
      11 Margaret Hutchinson --Education Centre for Women in Democracy

      *Please send comments to editor@... or comment online at

      3 Comment and analysis
      Barack Obama

      Thank you for having me on your show this morning.

      I have been following the situation in Kenya closely, and I am deeply
      concerned by the news and photographs I have seen. I want you to know
      that my thoughts and prayers - and those of my family - are with all
      of the victims of the violence, and with all Kenyans who have been
      displaced from their homes.

      Urgent action must be taken to stop this spiral of violence, and to
      help resolve the current political crisis. Kenya has long been known
      as a multi-ethnic society. The steps you have taken toward multi-
      party democracy in recent years have set a proud example for east

      I have personally been touched by your generous, democratic spirit
      through my ties to my own family, and during my travels to Kenya -
      most recently as a United States Senator in 2006. This Kenyan spirit
      rises above ethnic groups or political parties, and was on display in
      Kenya's recent election, when you turned out to vote in record
      numbers, and in a peaceful and orderly way.

      But recent troubling events in Kenya bear no resemblance to the Kenya
      I know and carry with me. The senseless and tragic violence poses an
      urgent and dangerous threat to Kenyans, Kenyan democracy, and
      stability and economic development in a vital region.

      Most troubling are new indications that the violence is being
      organized, planned and coordinated.

      Clearly, Kenya has reached a defining moment. There is no doubt that
      there were serious flaws in the vote tabulation. There is also no
      doubt that actions taken by both sides in the aftermath of the
      election have deepened the political impasse.

      Now is not the time to throw Kenyan democracy and national unity
      away. Now is the time for all parties to renounce violence.

      Now is the time for Kenya's leaders to rise above party affiliation
      and past divisions for the sake of peace. President Kibaki, Raila
      Odinga, and all of Kenya's leaders - political, civic, business, and
      religious -- have a responsibility to calm tensions, to come together
      unconditionally, and to pursue a political process to address
      peacefully the controversies that divide them.

      This crisis and terrible violence must end. A negotiated solution
      must be peaceful and political, and should take account of past
      failures and prevent future conflict.

      The rule of law and the rights of the Kenyan people - including
      freedom of the media and the freedom of peaceful assembly - must be

      Recent efforts by African Eminent Persons, like Kofi Annan, have
      yielded very modest progress, and there is no reason President Kibaki
      and Mr. Odinga should refuse to sit down unconditionally. To refuse
      to do so ignores the will of Kenyans and the urging of the united
      international community. While only Kenyans can resolve this crisis,
      I urge you to welcome the assistance of your concerned friends in
      working through this difficult time.

      The deep frustrations that are felt on allsides of the Kenyan divide
      are understandable. There is no doubt that much more work remains to
      be done for Kenya to become a more equitable and democratic society.

      But Kenya has come too far to throw away decades of progress in a
      storm of violence and political unrest. We must not look back years
      from now and wonder how and why things were permitted to go so
      horribly wrong. Kenya, its African friends, and the United States
      must now be determined pursuers of peace - and this determined
      pursuit must start today with individual Kenyans refusing to resort
      to violence, and Kenyan leaders accepting thei responsibility to turn
      away from confrontation by coming together.

      Kenya's long democratic journey has at times been difficult. But at
      critical moments, Kenyans have chosen unity and progress over
      division and disaster. The way forward is not through violence. To
      all of Kenya's people, I urge you to renounce the violence that is
      tearing your great country apart and deepening suffering. I urge you
      to follow a path of peace.

      * Sen. Barack Obama delivered this statement on Capital-FM at 7:45
      a.m. January 29, 2008

      * Please send comments to editor@... or comment online at

      Ali Mazrui and David Ohito

      In a question and answer letter, Ali Mazrui and David Ohito grapple
      with the question of whether Kenya is heading toward a civil war.

      Dear Prof Mazrui,

      The latest wave of violence is threatening the country. In Nakuru the
      problem of ethic violence has emerged. Kikuyus are being attacked
      over land issues as historical injustices become the new phase of

      Kibaki insists he was duly elected and sworn in and any election
      dispute should go to court as spelled out in the Constitution.

      Raila Odinga insists he is not going to a court full of Kibaki's
      appointees. The formula to a peaceful resolution remains elusive.
      what is your take on this?

      I agree with your predictions that many African Heads of States may
      have saved their countries from civil war.

      In Your opinion how far do you think will the International community
      wait before serious intervention other than mere statements? Is it
      good to impose sanctions economic, travel bans to Kenya?

      Are there any options the West, US, EU, UK, and even Asia can take to
      help save Kenya from being a failed state?

      Kofi Annan watched and acted too little too late as Rwanda
      degenerated into genocide. There was little international
      intervention. He himself later said he acted too slow too late while
      he was UN Secretary General. Is history repeating itself here? Can
      Kofi Annan recommend faster options to salvage Kenya?

      Would you consider giving your proposals to Kofi Annan for a way
      forward and what would those options for a solution be?

      Give any remarks that would help hold Kenya together without
      degenerating into genocide or civil strife.

      Thank you.

      David Ohito

      Dear Ndugu Ohito:

      In answer to your questions, I have lived long enough to know how
      civil wars begin in developing countries. I never expected there
      would be a civil war in Northern Uganda which would last twenty
      years, and unleash untold suffering and brutality. It has still not
      fully ended.

      When the Sudanese civil war was ending in the South, who would have
      predicted another civil war in Darfur? Ethiopia has had a variety of
      civil conflicts, the latest involving ethnic Somalis in the Ogaden.
      The brutalities of the Sierra Leonean civil war took everybody by

      Can such a bloody breakdown happen in Kenya? I am beginning to be
      truly fearful. What was once unthinkable is no longer inconceivable.
      While north of the Sahara the triggers of conflict are often
      religious, south of the Sahara they tend to combine ethnicity, power
      rivalry and economic deprivation.

      As soon as casualties of a conflict reach a thousand dead, several
      thousand injured and at least a hundred thousand displaced, speedy
      action is needed to contain the explosion. A mini-civil war could be
      in the making. Kenyans and the international community cannot afford
      to be complacent.

      Representatives of the African Union, the European Union, the United
      States, religious bodies, former African Heads of State, and Kofi
      Annan have approached the two sides of the Kenya conflict in terms of
      persuasion and the quest for a compromise. We now need more pressure
      and threats from the international community.

      Initially the threats should be targeted at the elite, rather than
      the general population. Withholding economic aid would hurt the wider
      population, but suspending Kenya's membership of the African Union
      and the Commonwealth would deprive us of credentials to sit at the
      summit meetings, or meetings of foreign ministers, of such
      international organizations. Specific members of both the government
      and the opposition could be deprived of Visas to the western world if
      they are identified as extremists against the search for solutions.

      Many members of the Kenyan elite also have Bank accounts abroad. The
      international community could threaten to freeze such bank accounts
      if there is no effort to solve the Kenya crisis.

      Normally, the international community does not try to intervene in
      Africa until the problem is truly catastrophic. That has been the
      situation in Congo-Kinshasa, in Rwanda, Darfur and in Somalia. Kenya
      is a situation of trying to prevent a crisis from becoming a
      catastrophe. There is still time - but not a lot of time to avert an

      Kofi Annan is trying his best, but he needs help in the form of
      massive political pressure on both sides. If mediation is not
      working, it may be time to threaten specific international sanctions,
      beginning with elite-focused threats of consequences.

      What is at stake is not just the political stability of Kenya. It is
      also the economic viability of Eastern Africa as a whole. Kenya's
      economy has vibrations of region-wide consequences. How can we avert
      a region-wide catastrophe?

      We are still far from a civil war. But our leaders should start
      discussing how to secure our borders against gun-running and
      importation of weapons. The border with Somalia especially needs to
      be secured, but without keeping out Somali refugees. Our leaders may
      also have to consider whether or not it is time to seek international
      help for peacekeeping in the Rift Valley. The situation is grave.
      Have we declared a state of emergency in the Rift Valley?

      Yours sincerely,
      Ali A. Mazrui

      * Ali Mazrui is Director, Institute of Global Cultural Studies,
      Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities, Binghamton University,
      State University of New York at Binghamton, New York, USA and
      Chancellor, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology,
      Thika and Nairobi Kenya.

      * David Ohito
      is a Senior Reporter
      Nairobi, Kenya

      * Please send comments to editor@... or comment online at

      All Africa Conference of Churches

      Reflections arising from the report on the AACC solidarity visit led
      by Archbishop Desmond Tutu


      Following the post election violence that rocked the Republic of
      Kenya after President Kibaki was declared the winner of the December
      2007 elections, the All Africa Conference of Churches, with
      headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, sought to contribute to the calming
      of the situation and the resolution of the problem by inviting a team
      of eminent African Church leaders led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to
      come and offer solidarity to the people of Kenya and help profile the
      cause of peace to the nation. The Archbishop was accompanied by the
      President of the All Africa Conference of Churches the Rt. Rev.
      Nyansako ni Nku, the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral
      Commission of South Africa and former General Secretary of the South
      African Council of Churches Dr. Brigalia H. Bam and the General
      Secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches, the Rev. Dr. H.
      Mvume Dandala.

      The information gathered during this visit indicated something of the
      complexity of the problem, as well as the fact that finding a
      solution, both on a short term and on a long term basis will need to
      take into consideration a number of factors such as:
      - The Historical background
      - The tension defined
      - The expressions of the violence
      - The Role of the Church
      - The Role of the media
      - Possible Ways forward

      It is with these in mind that the AACC offers the reflections
      contained herein.


      Whilst the visit was short, the AACC heard clearly the voices of many
      to the effect that only Kenyans could intervene in this situation.
      Any form of ‘international mediation or intervention’ was looked at
      askance. Whilst the National Council of Churches of Kenya opened its
      welcoming arms to the visit, the delegation sensed that not all the
      churches were fully convinced of the merits of the solidarity visit
      of the Archbishop even though these were expressed in respectful
      ways. On the other hand messages of appreciation from ordinary
      Kenyans were frequently received by the AACC, often couched with
      expressions of hope that the visit would help bring peace. The sense
      of the AACC
      is that these doubts about the efficacy of the visit were driven
      either by
      - the sense of patriotic pride that hurts from anything that may be
      perceived as suggesting that the Kenyans are not able to resolve this
      problem on their own;
      - the uncertainty of what an even handed approach might lead to, or
      - the firm belief that there are indeed Kenyans who can be able to
      facilitate an adequate response to the crisis.

      Most disturbing is the often mutely expressed statement by some
      Kenyans that “this is not the first time that Kenyans have
      experienced this kind of crisis, and just as they have resolved the
      past similar crises, so will they resolve this one as well”. This
      attitude feels indifferent to the loss of life of even one Kenyan. It
      is not worthy of any nation that values the lives of all its citizens.

      On the other hand it is possible that the conviction that it will
      take a Kenyan mediator to intervene effectively may be born of
      recognition that the communities at conflict have historical, long
      standing voiced and unvoiced and often nuanced concerns that an
      outsider may not easily be sensitive to. Participation in an
      ecumenical prayer service for church leaders at All Saints Anglican
      Cathedral on Sunday January 6th, 2007 gave one a glimpse of such
      concerns. The issues at stake may range from perceived unfair
      resource sharing, ethnic distrust and many other such issues that may
      have compounded themselves into modern Kenyan politics. What is
      obvious is that these stretch from beyond colonial times to modern
      Kenyan governance with all the complications that were subsequent to
      colonial domination. The regularity with which these issues are
      referred to by the Kenyan community should make it possible for the
      Kenyan society to overcome them. But the question is whether these
      are confronted with such honesty in the corridors of power where they
      should be dealt with.

      The AACC is of the mind that there is therefore need for such
      historical facts to be understood as part of the process to the
      resolution of the impasse, both on a short and on a long term basis.
      Whether this is done by an international or local mediation body is a
      moot point. The critical factor is the independence of the mediation
      body, together with the rigour and sense of fairness that such a body
      would bring. Such a body must assist the country to find speedily a
      workable resolution to the immediate impasse, thus creating space for
      a longer term solution that will lay the foundations for the healing
      of the country and the strengthening of the overall sense of common
      nationhood among all the peoples of Kenya.

      But for now the question is what is it that the AACC team heard as to
      the nature of the reigning crisis?

      The tension defined

      While the conflict erupted as a consequence of disputed presidential
      electoral results, the communities at conflict have a historical and
      long standing and often unvoiced concerns, dating back to
      independence days when many Kenyans felt that their expectations were
      not met. The independent government inherited colonial structures and
      failed to address the injustices and inequalities that had
      characterised the nation because people had different persuasions.
      And therefore, over the years, it has appeared that the president of
      the day brings his community closer to power to benefit from national
      resources more than other communities.


      The various parties have differing views as to the nature of the
      violence that has been evident. Some see it as a political tool, pre-
      meditated and deliberately unleashed with an element of ethnic
      cleansing in its make up. Claims were made that some of the
      perpetrators of the violence were paid to do so.

      Others see it as a spontaneous and unorganised natural reaction to
      what they see as vicious day light robbery at the polls which the
      voters could not stomach.

      The delegation wondered if there was adequate political will to stop
      the violence and find a solution that is acceptable to all. The PNU
      and the ODM both appear unshaken in their conviction that the other
      party is responsible and has the capacity to stop the violence. If
      preventing the deaths and the destruction of property was paramount
      in the thinking of all the parties, it must be obvious that the
      leaders of all the parties should have come out together at least to
      denounce the violence in full view of the nation and offer assurance
      that an equitable solution was being sought. Such a joint
      condemnation of violence should have been made regardless of the
      cause, whether pre-meditated, spontaneous, ethnic or otherwise. This
      agenda item is still outstanding.

      The Role of the Church

      Reports from the church leaders spoken to indicate that the church is
      appalled by the violence, and had in fact, at the time of the arrival
      of the delegation, already started to take steps to respond to the
      crisis. But the church leaders did not try to hide the fact that
      there was a lot of division even amongst themselves. Some church
      leaders, if not most, were perceived to have aligned themselves with
      specific party positions, thus robbing the church of an
      authoritative, collective and independent moral voice that could
      champion the cause of peace and unity for the nation in spite of the
      different political views. The churches, according to the NCCK, are
      clear in that the healing of the nation must go hand in hand with the
      healing of the church.
      The initiatives of the church had not yet gained a high media profile
      at the time of the solidarity visit. But a common front for an
      effective ministry to the nation through the National Alliance of
      Churches had been forged. The Alliance has four major task forces, viz:

      1. The political
      2. The humanitarian
      3. Communication, and
      4. The Spiritual.

      Through these the church is poised for a significant ministry impact
      to the nation. The church leaders have a responsibility to:
      - Encourage and enable the political leaders to come together to call
      for the end to violence and speak for the preservation of life.
      - Encourage the leaders to ensure that there is space for alternative
      voices to be heard without this descending into a conflagration of
      - Impress strongly on the political leaders to embrace alternative
      ways of resolving conflict to violence.

      While the question of the source of violence cannot be ignored for an
      effective response to be developed, it is essential that this should
      not be allowed to create a stalemate as it is likely to. The churches
      themselves are not of one view on this matter. As the visit report
      indicates the gulf is big between the parties as to the causes of the
      violence. The church can and should assist for common positions to
      counter and forestall violence to be developed and embraced by all.

      The delegation noted that there is suspicion of the usage of church
      language among the various parties. The ODM alleged that some of
      their leaders have been referred to as “devil worshippers” and that
      in spite of the fact that those leaders are Christians their churches
      did not assist them to clear their names before the nation. On the
      other hand it may be inferred that in expressing concern that ‘the
      churches must support a constitutionally elected government’ the
      government (PNU) was calling for the public support of the church in
      this crisis. It simply is essential that the church does not try to
      hedge its bets but instead clarify its message. Such a message has to
      be based on that which will heal the nation and purify the
      institutions of national governance so that the faith of the people
      in these is restored. This in itself will go a long way in redeeming
      the church thus restoring its moral authority which this situation
      has sought to compromise.

      The role of the Media

      At the time of the solidarity visit some measures were in place to
      limit the work of the media. This is regrettable. The churches cannot
      afford to overlook it. The role of the media in this crisis may need
      reflection with the view that the confidence of the populace on the
      media should be nurtured as an essential element in the work of
      healing the nation. Questions were raised with the delegation as to
      whether the media may have fuelled (wittingly or unwittingly) the
      crisis during the period preceding the elections.

      The role of the media in the formation of national attitudes can
      never be overemphasised. The media’s role is more than merely
      reporting what is happening. It has to stimulate creative thinking in
      the nation about the values that the nation cherishes and raise
      questions where any section of society seeks to undermine or
      demonstrates disregard of the common good and the institutions that
      seek to serve the common good.

      - The media must be used to bring people together instead of
      inflaming them.
      - It should use history to heal and build people instead of dividing
      - It must demystify myths about ethnic practices instead of
      perpetuating them

      It is in this light that the role of the media in this crisis should
      be examined. Reasons behind the limitations that were imposed on the
      media in the course of this crisis could either be that the media
      used its freedom irresponsibly, or that those with authority did not
      like what they saw of themselves in the mirror that is the media.
      Since the media is a prime catalyst for exchanging ideas in a free
      society it is essential that its freedom is guaranteed with
      instruments of protest against it in place where its objectivity is
      suspect. The alternative is a perception that totalitarian seeds are
      being sown. The Republic of Kenya, a bastion of peace and developing
      democracy in Africa, cannot afford to lower its guard on this score.

      Possible Resolution Scenarios for consideration by the Church

      The AACC believes that there is an important role for the churches of
      Kenya to play in helping towards the resolution of this impasse.
      Primarily the church should assist the key leaders of the various
      parties to accept joint responsibility for diffusing the crisis.

      1. Top in the process should be agreed strategies to stop the
      violence. The political leaders must mobilise all their people to
      desist from violent activities and in fact declare violence the enemy
      of the nation.
      2. The leaders must reinforce the right to freedom of expression.
      Police and rally marshals should be deployed under the command of the
      police to protect demonstrators, passers by and property. They must
      seek to ensure that no one abuses the right to freedom of speech as a
      licence to kill, injure or loot property.
      3. The Kenyan Law and Order Enforcement agencies, especially the
      police, should be encouraged to desist from using excessive force
      during such demonstrations.
      4. Church leaders must help engender a spirit of cooperation among
      the opposing political parties that will allow a structure that is
      accommodative to lead the administration of the country.
      5. Church leaders must accompany such a structure with processes that
      will limit the chances of reneging on positions agreed to. They must
      help create and nurture space for mistrust to be reduced.
      6. On a longer term basis Church leaders should help both the
      political leaders and the general population to identify those
      institutional structural deficiencies that made this crisis possible,
      such as the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) in order to pave the
      way for the strengthening of such structures, thus laying the
      foundations for a more secure and dependable electoral system.
      7. On a long term basis Church leaders have to assist put in place
      processes that will contribute towards the enhancement of a common
      sense of Nationhood that transcends ethnicity so that the sharing of
      resources and access to justice is not only equitable, but seen to be
      so by the nation at large.
      8. Church leaders must prioritise the healing of the church as they
      themselves have acknowledged this need.

      * Please send comments to editor@... or comment online at

      4 Pan-African Postcard

      The Government of Sudan is one of the most unscrupulous governments
      in the world. And this is no mean ‘achievement’ given the many
      claimants to this dubious honour. It is so cynical that the words
      ‘shame’ and ‘sensitivity’ do not exist in its political dictionary
      and they do not have any equivalent meaning in its diplomacy either.
      Otherwise how can one explain its persistence in seeking the
      Chairmanship of the African Union despite its continuing ignoble
      record in the massacre and Gross Violation of the rights of its own
      citizens in the Darfur region, a killing field assuming the
      proportions of industrial mass murder. With the best of good will and
      efforts from the African Union through AMIS and now jointly with the
      United Nations through UNAMID the Khartoum government has played
      games with the lives of its own citizen with impunity.

      It has been angling the chairmanship since 2006. However other
      African states have been so embarrassed by Khartoum that they were
      unwilling to allow it to be spokesperson of Africa’s premier
      diplomatic and political institution. It was largely because of
      Khartoum that the AU abandoned the OAU twin practice of rotation of
      the hosting of the Summit between the different regions and also the
      automatic assumption of the office of the Chair of the Union by the
      host country. Khartoum hosted the Summit in 2006 but did not become
      chair of the Union. Subsequently Gambia hosted the Summit in July
      2007 but its erratic soldier-turned president and more recently
      mutating as HIV/Aids Doctor, Yaya Jameh, did not become the
      Chairperson either.

      Khartoum has not given up its ambition and it is again one of the
      contenders for the Chairmanship at the 10th ordinary Session of the
      Assembly of Heads of state and Governments of the Union holding this
      week in Addis. The other contender is Egypt though there are also
      rumours that Tanzania may be a surprise contender to stop Khartoum.
      From all indications Tanzania may not enter the race unless really
      pushed. This is a shame because neither Sudan nor Egypt , for
      different reasons, deserves to head the Union. In Egypt’s case in
      spite of its status as the most significant of the North African
      countries in the Union it has always been a reluctant member. Like
      its other cousins in the Sahara except Libya, it is in Africa but its
      heart and soul are in the Middle East. I am not sure when the
      Egyptian President last attended an AU summit. It is supposed to be
      one of the five pillars of NEPAD but only on paper. It is more
      interested in the Arab League than any other multilateral body and
      generally prefers bilateralism with African states and special deals
      with extra African interests. Egyptian Chairmanship will induce more
      inertia in the AU for a year and probably sabotage any collective
      action on Sudan.

      While Sudan shares some of the Egyptian Arab-centrism it is one of
      the most active member states in Pan African affairs however not
      always for the best of reasons. While its Arabised elite continue to
      look towards the Middle East it has to face the reality of having
      huge Negroid population not only in the South but across the country.
      The dominant elite may be Arabised and Muslim but the people are
      Africans. Even its name belies its racial claims. Bilad el Sudan
      means Land of the Blacks! The most obvious character of Sudan is the
      least talked about. When it serves its interest Sudan plays the Pan
      African and anti imperialist cards in the AU and the Arab/Islamic
      cards with Arabs and other Muslim countries.

      It used the OAU and is now using the AU platform to fence off
      Western , mostly Anglo-American isolation campaign against it.
      Unfortunately the credibility of the west in general and successive
      US administrations in particular but more so Bush’s 8 years of
      unilateralism, have created willing ears and sympathy for Khartoum
      among other African states. Thus the AU has become a shield for
      Khartoum and it uses it very well. Its strategy is very simple but it
      continues to hoodwink African states most effectively. On every issue
      it will initially insist on no intervention at all proclaiming its
      sovereign rights. After so much controversies and prolonged inane
      negotiations it agrees to some form of African intervention
      especially to prevent Western or UN intervention.

      But it had no intention of cooperating to end the suffering of its
      people. Several years down the line after so much haggling and zig
      zags it agreed to a hybrid of AU and UN. Thanks to the dithering of
      the powerful countries in the UN and the humanitarian-driven approach
      to Sudan with a not so hidden agenda for regime change even the
      hybrid force cannot take off immediately. African states have shown
      their readiness to deploy more troops but UN Security Council
      politics is delaying things all to the benefit of Khartoum and its
      killer allies in Darfur.

      It cannot be right that a country and a government that kills its own
      people is allowed to be spokesperson for Africa. Khartoum should be
      disallowed from assuming the chair of the Union. If this means that
      Egypt takes the seat so be it but the best option should have been to
      have another state . Were Nyerere alive he would have had no
      hesitation in coming to the rescue. Even at this late hour one hopes
      that Tanzania and President Kikwete will come forward to save the
      Union from being chaired by an indifferent Egypt or a cynical Sudan.

      *Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem writes this syndicated column as a
      concerned Pan Africanist

      *Please send comments to editor@... or comment online at

      5 Books and arts

      FOREIGN POLICY (www.foreignpolicy.com) describes itself as "the
      premier, award-winning magazine of global politics, economics, and
      ideas." This influential right-wing magazine produced in Washington
      DC, devoted a two page tirade as a review of Fahamu's book "From
      Slave Trade to 'free' trade". The review, written by Jeffrey Herbst,
      provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Miami
      University concludes:

      "... 'From the Slave Trade' speaks to more Africans than the speeches
      and databases of the world’s international financial institutions."

      With a recommendation like that, how could you resist getting your
      own copy (it's available free as a download)!

      Details at: http://www.fahamu.org/pzbook.php

      6 African Writers Corner

      we hear a woman’s raped every
      30 minutes this fact needs to be
      adjusted as 56 & more
      many more were assaulted
      inside the first 2 days of
      premeditated brutality
      of the elephants’ skirmish

      their bodies are the frontline
      where foes are belittled
      & age-old grudges viciously settled
      meanwhile rallies sermonise
      peacemakers negotiate &
      dealmakers mediate
      they play the blame game who instigated
      what who killed whom excuse me while
      i spit & yet do not speak
      of the trauma & the terror
      & shun the soundless screams of
      untold others who in mute silence suffer
      they talk about democracy
      about ethnocracy autocracy
      & just about any cracy you can think of
      malevolence shrouded in words
      while powerless women little girls
      boys & men are abused what
      do they know about sacrilege how much
      do they care about the shame & humiliation?
      how many little girls did you rape today baba?
      we know bodies may be healed but
      spirit bruises soul lacerations are
      indelible quotidian &
      never ever leave your side

      their bodies are a battlefield
      whose destruction’s a conscious
      act of ethnic cleansing

      in some place we hear
      the price for one rape is a goat how
      many goats for gang rapes or
      for sodomised little boys
      we know this isn’t about gratification
      nor passion & we are aware of the imperative
      revenge domination control
      opportunism thuggery it
      really doesn’t really matter as the
      sacrifice’s been made
      the earth’s tasted their blood
      their tears soak the ground
      mission accomplished
      they ask what they should do
      as they pray for divine reckoning &
      vengeance of cosmic magnitude
      they live in constant sorrow & in dread of the hatred spewing
      men with rungus for fists & serrated panga eyes
      do they not feel pain when you
      hurt them do they not bleed when you defile them?

      their bodies are a battle ground
      their violation
      a weapon of war their
      bodies are a combat zone
      their degradation a
      weapon of mass destruction

      *Mshairi (poet in Kiswahili) administers the Kenyan Blogs Webring -
      KenyaUnlimited and the African Women’s Blog. You can find more work
      from the poet at http://www.mshairi.com/blog

      *Please send comments to editor@... or comment online at


      Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice

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