Magazine article New African

Kenya: The Soul-Searching Begins; as Kenyans Begin to Reconstruct Their Lives after the Disastrous Post-Election Violence, Many Questions Have Emerged That Need Urgent Answers. A Leaked ODM Strategy Paper Appears to Incriminate the Opposition, Reports Wanjohi Kabukuru from Nairobi

Magazine article New African

Kenya: The Soul-Searching Begins; as Kenyans Begin to Reconstruct Their Lives after the Disastrous Post-Election Violence, Many Questions Have Emerged That Need Urgent Answers. A Leaked ODM Strategy Paper Appears to Incriminate the Opposition, Reports Wanjohi Kabukuru from Nairobi

Article excerpt

A midst much pain, death and destruction, normalcy has now returned to Nairobi and relative calm all across the country. The dust has now settled and the talk is no longer the veracity of the mess that was the 2007 general elections (which has since seen 1,000 people dead), but what happened to the country's psyche and soul, the ingredients that had held the nation together for the last four decades.

Kenya's past elections, with the exception of 2002, had always resonated with malpractices. So what made the 2007 post-elections different? Why were ethnic grievances manipulated to bring calamity and blackmail upon the country? Who stoked the embers, and for what purpose?

These are the hard queries that Kenyans are now facing as the country searches for its soul, and grimaces in pain for allowing dirty politics to dictate the course of the nation.

It is a heavy price that Kenyans and its land-locked neighbours have had to pay. But behind the facade, under-currents with far-reaching consequences are hard at play. Here is the untold story camouflaged in the red-herring of "tribal skirmishes".

In the beginning, it all appeared as if ethnic passions had been inflamed by the disputed 27 December elections. In fact, this was the view propounded by the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and neatly trumpeted by the Western media.

But this view is no longer tenable. It is now an established fact that the post-election violence had been planned long before the elections--in legal parlance, premeditated. The besmirched polls just provided the perfect opportunity for the perfidy to be unleashed.

Indeed, the Kenyan scenario is a classic case of media hype, rash factoids and facts. Tragically, however, the sacred facts came out too late, long after the media hype and rash factoids had been consumed and believed.

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For an entire month, the whole world was fed with information that Kenya was indeed sinking into ethnic bigotry and even "civil war". If it is true that Kenya had indeed fallen to the snares of ethnicity, the casualty figure would have been far higher, especially in a nation of nearly 40 million people!

Was "ethnic violence" then a ruse for some other ends? Was the ethnic card used by ill-motivated politicians to achieve certain ends of their machinations?

Right from the day President Mwai Kibaki was declared winner of the general elections and hurriedly sworn in, the ODM went on the offensive and produced to the world, an entire list of misdeeds, all of it accusing Kibaki and his government of "stealing the elections"

The same song was sung by most international observers, notably, the European Union and the United States. For the better part of January, the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Jendayi Frazer; the US ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger; the British high commissioner to Kenya, Adam Wood; and vocal Kenyan government critics, namely, the chairman of the Law Society of Kenya, Okon'go Omogeni; and the chairman of the Kenyan National Commission for Human Rights, Maina Kiai, pummelled the world media with what they claimed were the sins of Kibaki and his party. Indeed, one would have been forgiven for thinking that the above-named personalities actually run the country and had the last word on the nightmarish elections. Interestingly, when the Kenyan government hit back by challenging them to provide "evidence", none of them responded.

In hard-hitting paid-up press advertisements published in the Kenyan media, titled "Setting the record straight", the government came out fighting.

"Kenyans have humbly requested you to back up your allegations, that the presidential results were flawed. You have failed to provide any evidence. Kenya is not a banana republic and has a supreme constitution, stable laws and systems," the government told its foreign and local critics. …

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