February 8, 2008
I have not made a report for the last three days because each day I
have been on the road.
Tuesday Gladys and I went to Kakamega to buy relief supplies for our
Lumakanda IDP's who are now in Turbo. On Wednesday, I went to Kaimosi
to the Friends Theological College to work out a plan for them to do
AVP in their churches during April vacation. On Thursday, Gladys and
I went in the north Rift Valley to distribute relief supplies with the
Friends Church Peace Team; I have reported on this in another email.
While others think
Kenya is calming down, I don't. I think that it has entered another
stage where the dramatic headlines of burning buildings
and multi-deaths is over and a more subdued, but perhaps a more destructive
and deadly mopping up, has begun. I can call this "reaping the harvest
of the prior violence."
Tuesday on our way to Kakamega we stopped by Florence and Alfred Machayo's
house to deal with the maize (corn) that needed to be bagged for delivery
in the North Rift. Alfred was not there because he was escorting a Luhya
friend of his who was a magistrate in the Nandi (Kalenjin) area. The
magistrate had been told that he had to leave Nanci in a week or his
house would be burned down. So, he was looking at the plot he has in
Lugari District and determining how he can live there with his family.
In other words, one family quietly (as far as the media is concerned)
displaced. I suspect he will be out of his job also.
In the last few days another home was burned near Kipkarren River. In
this case the old Kikuyu had died, but his daughter lived in his house,
which was burned down, and his nice cassava field was completely destroyed.
In my report on the visit to north Rift Valley, I mentioned the considerable
violence on Mt Elgon. The paper reports that over 1000 teachers have
not reported for work in North Rift Valley and that many students have
also not returned. When we visited the Lumakanda people in the camp at
Turbo, they told us that their numbers have been increasing. Two communities
in Lugari District, which formerly had not been attacked, were attacked
last week during the unrest and more people had fled to the camp.
In other words, houses will be burnt here and there. The violence of
the past will compel people to flee as soon as they feel that they are
being targeted. The targets are no longer only the Kikuyu in the western
provinces, but anyone who happens not to live in his/her home area; i.e.,
who do not speak the local language.
I has occurred to
me that the situation in Kenya is exactly the same as in the region
of Rwanda, Burundi, and North and South Kivus. But in
this case the issue is within one nation while the other is international.
Let us compare the Rwandans with the Kikuyu. Rwanda is over-populated
and so the Rwandans immigrate to North and South Kivu (and also Tanzania
and Uganda) where they are considered "foreigners" by the local
people and by the Governments of the region; and therefore, by the international
community. Almost all the wars in the region since 1990 have been based
on whether the Rwandans have the right to live as citizens, with benefits
and privileges, in one of these countries. The answer is "No," but
the Rwandans don't want to leave so fighting erupts.
In Kenya, the Kikuyu
were originally confined to Central Province which is much smaller
than Rwanda. The number of Rwandans in Rwanda is more
or less equal to the number of Kikuyu in Kenya. Since 1900 the Kikuyu
have moved out of Central Province to other parts of Kenya under the
assumption that they were Kenyan citizens moving within their own country.
But others, particularly the Kalenjin and Maassi groups take the positioin
that Kikuyu were given land that was stolen from them by the British
and therefore they don't have "rights" of land ownership in
Since Kenya is itself a nation supported by the international community,
the regionalists don't have the right to expel the Kikuyu as the Congolese,
Tanzanians or Ugandans have with the Rwandans. I read in the paper today
that Tanzania is expelling 220,000 Burundians who have been in Tanzania
since 1972; 36 years! Burundians do not seem to be very welcoming of
these returnees because they really have no place to put them.
In effect our concepts
of who belongs to what nation needs to be questioned/considered, while
at the same time we have to address the issue of whether a group
that historically occupies a certain territory has the right to exclude
others. And then there has be fights over the boundaries of these "indigenous
territories"--this is essentially what is happening in the conflict
on Mt Elgon. I am certain that almost everyone reading this report will
come down on the side of the right of a person to live anywhere "in
his/her own nation." But one must remember the great "ethnic
cleansing" that happened at the end of World War II when millions
of people were relocated to their "home country" whose boundaries
had changed substantially so that Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Latvia, etc.,
all became ethnically homogeneous and the multi-national countries of
the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia had to be broken up into ethnic enclaves.
The American (and now European) efforts to keep out illegal immigrants
is no more than this same issue--if Americans don't like Mexicans in
their borders, why shouldn't people from North Kivu not like Rwandans,
or Kalenjin's not like Kikuyu, Luo, Luyha, and others within "their
borders"? There have been suggestions (not considered seriously)
that Kenya ought to be divided into two new countries with the Rift,
Western, and Nyanza Provinces becoming Kenya II.
These are all hard issues. I don't see anyone in the international community
addressing them at any depth. Surely the United Nations and all its constituent
governments are committed to the current status quo. I would like to
see some considerations of better alternatives.
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