01 January 2008

Kenya church burned, 50 reported killed

The Associated Press reports over 50 people, including women and children, were killed in Kenya earlier today as part of wider riots and protests against recent presidential election results.

We didn't cover Kenya much in my African History class last semester, but the situation reminds me a lot of the Congo in the 90's. The dominant tribe in the country is resented for having the political power. The minority resorts to violence to resolve things. In both cases women and children are killed along with the men.

It's a horrible, horrible situation and it seems all too common in Africa. In the Congo's case, the ethnic tensions were artificially bred through Belgian interference. Belgian colonizers sorted the Africans by skin color, nose shape, and other factors. The ones with lighter skin and a certain nose type were declared genetically superior and given high positions in society and government.

I don't know if the ethnic hatreds here are directly the result of European colonization, but everywhere in Africa, state lines were drawn with no regard to ethnicity. In countries like Chad, hundreds of different tribes were had a square drawn around them and were declared a nation. To expect everyone to get along is naive at best.

But then when the colonial powers established a regime of corruption, exploitation and manipulation, they only helped make sure things stayed that way when they finally left.

Not all of these atrocities can be blamed on colonialism. African countries have full autonomy, and some of them have truly evil men leading them.

Every time I start to think the continent is progressing and moving beyond this type of thing, we see another outbreak of violence. On one hand, it's hard to understand why these Kenyans are resorting to such actions in the face of what they view as a rigged election. Liberals were sure angry at the results of the 2000 presidential election, but they didn't kill any conservatives. On the other hand, I imagine it must be frustrating to see corruption in your government and feel like there's nothing you can do.

Hopefully after the Rwandan genocide of 1994, we've learned learned what happens when other nations ignore situations like this, and intervene in Kenya before the situation gets completely out of hand.

No comments: