Monday, January 28, 2008


I don't know what you guys have heard about the problem right now in Kenya, but it's not looking good. The real problem goes back about 500 years when Europe starting colonizing Africa. They divided it up into regions without understanding the impact of their decisions. For thousands of years Africa had been divided into many kingdoms, each primarily composed of and ruled by one tribe. When the Europeans came they chopped up the land in to large areas putting many different tribes together into new "countries". When the African countries starting gaining independence from their colonial powers the tribal loyalties did not disappear. In Kenya alone there are over 40 different tribes.

Usually when a man from one tribe is elected president almost all of the other officials he appoints are from his tribe too. Elections are very emotionally charged events and they are full of corruption because each tribe wants to claim power. In Kenya they had a presidential election on December 27, 2007. Basically it was looking like a new guy was going to win the election and then the results were kept from people for a day or so and then the current president announced that he had won. There are tons of irregularities, local announcements not matching up with national announcements, more votes for the presidential election then for the parliamentary elections on the same ballot, more votes than registered voters in some areas (like a 115% turnout in one region). In a lot of regions the kerosene in the lamps of the vote counters went out, so they went home to sleep and continue counting the next day, but when they returned there were more ballots then they thought they had left. There was also a lack of ballots in a lot of voting places, causing long lines, and in some places whole groups of people were left off of the voter registries: like everyone with a last name starting in "O". Because people in the same tribe often have the same or similar last names, many people think this was done on purpose. Outside officials believe that both sides were involved in the vote rigging.

The government of Kenya is consistently ranked in the top 10 most corrupt governments in the world and the people have had enough. The current conflict started when the tribes of the two men who were running for president, the Kikuyu tribe and the Luo tribe, started killing each other in protest, but it soon became much more. Many places in Africa people don't really think that land can be sold. You have to have a blood claim to the land you live on or farm (passed on from one person to the next in a family). So a lot of people are using this conflict to attack people who live on the land that they feel their family has a blood claim to. Right now over 700 people have been killed and more than a quarter of a million are homeless.

I write this blog because I don't know how much people know about what is going on over here now and because I just want to say that this problem is not intirely of the Kenyan's making. Tribal tensions are one of the biggest issues in Africa and I don't see how they are going to go away anytime soon. It almost makes me want to scrap all of these countries imposed by colonial rule and start over drawing different borders.

Please be praying for Kenya: that the leaders would realize what their selfish grabs for power are doing to the people, that the people would realize that terrorizing their neighbors will not lead to anything good, and that the spirits of hatred and anger there would leave.

If you want to see some pictures of the conflict:

*I got this information from the BBC, transparency international, my studies of African culture, the history of Kenya, and personal observations.