Eyes on Kenya

Background information on the political crisis in Kenya

Friday, 22. February 2008 von Jannek

Many articles in the Kenyan “blogosphere” (see chart below), local and international media have been written about the post-election crisis. The numbers reach into their thousands. This article tries to give an overview about good articles with background information on Kenya and the current political crisis. It is just a selection and we are sure that we may have missed many good ones. It is just the beginning and we will try to keep it updated, so if you see any good ones that would fit into this page, please use the comment function to add them.

(Topics in alphabetical order)


The Draft Constitution of Kenya, known as the Boma’s draft, was adopted by the National Constitutional Conference on 15th of march 2004.

The potential impact of economic sanctions on the Kenyan government” takes a closer look at the Kenyan economy and delivers useful statistics and numbers.

The Reuter’s fact box gives an overview about the “Aid to Kenya”, the CIA fact book delivers more economic figures.

Eyes on the World Bank and Kibaki’s economy” takes a closer look at the economic program of Kibaki’s government and at the World Bank’s interest in Kenya.

Ethnic Violence

Antony Otieno Ong’ayo, a researcher at the Transnational Institute, Amsterdam, gives “An overview of the underlying factors” of “The Post-election Violence in Kenya” at Pambazuka News. It is detailed and gives a great historic overview as well .

Unearthing of the sources of tribal disagreements and ethno-politics in Kenya” takes a closer look at the historic background of tribalism in Kenya.

The US biased NGO Human Rights Watch published a report about the involvement of opposition politicians in the preparation of the Rift valley violence. “Kenya: Opposition Officials Helped Plan Rift Valley Violence” was published on January 24th 2008.

The article “The effect of the Kenyan crisis on Kenya’s health system” tries to summarize the struggles to keep up the Kenyan health system in this time of crisis. It also refers to an article by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs IRIN “KENYA: Healthcare threatened by political crisis

International Medical Corps addresses the issue “Risk of Long-Term Food Insecurity and Malnutrition” in Kenya.

Land distribution

The Africa Policy Institute published a report by Horace Njuguna Gisemba named “The Lie of the land: Evictions and Kenya’s crisis”. It takes a closer look at the history of land distribution and ownership in the Rift valley and disputes the often heard argument of “land distribution” as the underlying cause for the killings. It is controversally discussed at the Kenya imagine.


Reuter’s alertnet posted an article by Joanne Tomkinson called “MEDIAWATCH: Kenyan media inciting ethnic hatred” on Februray 7th 2008. It deals with the local radio stations promoting ethnic hatred.

Humanitarian news and analysis (IRIN) also writes about “Spreading the word of hate” .

John Barbieri, an independent reporter and the founder of the US Coalition for Peace with Truth and Justice in Kenya writes about the “The poverty of international journalism”.

Simiyu Barasa, a member of the Coalition of Concerned Kenyan Writers, wrote an essay on “War journalism: Kenya’s newest tourist attraction” on the kwani blog. Barasa picks up the concept of “peace journalism” by the Norwegian Scholar John Galtun and shows how the local media tries to use their influence to promote peace and fails due to an international “war journalism”. He gives examples how cameras create stories and that media attention is only drawn by violence. This is done by the very same media cooperation which thought it was their responsibility not to show any cruel pictures after 9/11 and during the Iraq war.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA) strongly condemned the violation of press freedoms and intimidation of journalists on January 19t.

Political Parties
The Mukoma Wa Ngugi analysis on the differences within the Orange Democratic Movement and the different political approaches by its leaders. “Understanding the Kenyan Opposition” brings to light the differences between the activist-intellectual left, the Moi-ist retrogressives, and the populists within the party.

Eyes on Kenyan Political Parties: A call for change” looks at the historic background of Kenya’s Parties and the lack of their political profiles.

In the publication “Political Succession in East Africa – In Search for a Limited Leadership” by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Dr. Katumanga Musambayi wrote the chapter: “After the floods – The Rainbow: Contextualising NARC’s election victory – Lessons learnt and the challenges ahead”. It was published in 2006 and gives an overview about the prior election in 2002.


The full text of the power-sharing deal was signed by Kibaki and Odinga on February 28th 2008.

Despite the fact that the different religious communities play an important role in Kenya's society, we have not found any deeper analysis on the role of the churches to promote peace and their role in finding a conflict solution.

United States of America

Here we are still looking for a good article, that analyses the change in the US policies towards the Kibaki government.


Our early analysis on the “The role of the US Department of State in the aftermath of Kenyan Election” sees a change in US policies as the results of a learning process due to the mistakes made in the 2005 Ethiopian election.

Patrick Mutahi asks the Question”What is America's stake in this?” and explains their interest according to their “war on terror” policies.

Women's rights
The “Women’s Memorandum to the Mediation Team” was published on Pambazuka News. It was written by the “Kenyan Women's Consultation Group on the Current Crisis in Kenya” a group of women from various backgrounds who met to discuss a solution to the crisis. Among other important points it stresses the importance of women participation in the finding of conflict solutions adhereing to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.

"Violence and women in Kenya" portraits the Kenyans Prof. Wangari Maathai, Dekha Ibrahim Abdi and Gladwell Otieno and takes a closer look at violence against female candidates in the pre-election period.

Again: If you know other background articles on the current situation in Kenya, please use the comment function or the "Contact Page" to add them. If you leave a comment you have the option to be notified for any further comments.


The effect of the Kenyan crisis on Kenya’s health system

Tuesday, 12. February 2008 von Jannek

The impact of the post election crisis on the Kenyan Health system is devastating. In the past years the Kenyan Health system has made some great progress in the prevention and treatment of Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV / AIDS. Now Kenya is facing several tremendous set backs.

First of all the system has to handle the primary crises: Sever injured people needed treatment. Displaced persons have to gather in camps and challenge the local health system. In those camps people live close together and steps have to be taken to prevent the out break of epidemics.

Violence against women has always been a problem in Kenya. But in the past month the number of reported rapes has exploded. Most cases were reported in hospitals from women who needed immediate physical treatment. The real number of rapes has been much higher, since many women do not report any attacks. Women are not only left with a sever trauma, which would require experienced support. Also the risk of suffering from an STD, in the worst cases from HIV is burdening those women.

With the help of donors and a the great effort of Kenyan Health workers, Antiretroviral treamtent (ART) has been implemented even in rural areas. This is even under normal conditions a great challenge. People on ART can not stop to take the drugs, in order to prevent drug resistance. So drug supply should never run short. With the crisis all over the country it becomes a problem. And keeping up the treatment for the displaced persons seems to be almost impossible. The long term effect is an increase of drug resistance, which can lead to severe health problems, as well as it requires much more expensive drugs, which become for some patience unaffordable. The drug resistant virus can also be transmitted, causing the failure of normal treatment regimes in new patients.

The treatment of HIV/AIDS is only possible with well trained medical staff. Especially in the health professions work migration with in the country is high. With violence along ethnic lines many health works were effected and are now displaced. Other will refuse to go into certain areas in the future. With the ongoing crises well trained medical staff will look for other options abroad. People with experience in HIV /AIDS treatment are needed all over Africa, some jobs are well paid through international organisations. And it becomes more interesting to look for options in industrial nations, e.g. the United Kingdom. The “brain drain” will add to the negative long term effect on Kenya’s health system.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (IRIN) has summarized the situation:

Healthcare threatened by political crisis

NAIROBI, 7 February 2008 (IRIN) – Health officials are concerned about the long-term impact of Kenya’s political crisis on healthcare, especially in areas hardest hit by violence since the end of December 2007.

“The most worrying issue is that of drug resistance among patients of chronic diseases,” Ian van Engelgem, the medical coordinator of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), told IRIN on 5 February.

He said HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) patients who had missed out on their regular medication for up to a month due to displacement and violence could develop resistance to the drugs.

“Right now a lot of HIV patients are on first-line drugs; they could require second-line drugs, which are more expensive, if they develop resistance as a result of skipping their ARV [anti-retroviral] medication for a period of time,” Van Engelgem said.

The fact that internally displaced persons (IDPs) have better access to healthcare compared with the host community where the camps are located is another concern.

“If IDPs have access to free healthcare, the same should also apply to them [host communities] as they are equally affected by the unrest,” Van Engelgem said.

Displaced health workers

Joanne Greenfield, malaria adviser for the UN World Health Organization (WHO) in Nairobi, said displacement and ongoing violence in parts of the country could lead to a crisis in the provision of healthcare in the affected regions.

“The security situation, especially in the Rift Valley [Province], is affecting the provision of health services to the general public as a significant number of health workers are either displaced and/or cannot report to their duty stations,” Greenfield said.

WHO, the lead agency for the health cluster of humanitarian actors – comprising UN agencies, NGOs and government organisations – has also expressed concern over the health of thousands of IDPs, mostly women and children, in the Rift Valley.

On 6 February, newspaper reports indicated that chicken pox and diarrhoea had broken out in two IDP camps in Naivasha, a town in Rift Valley Province, which has been severely affected by the violence.

“The number of sites hosting IDPs appears to increase by the day,” the agency said in a statement. “Initial WHO assessment has found that these sites are very crowded, with poor shelter, water supply, sanitation (in some camps, toilet to person ratio is 1 for 500), food shortages, no cooking fuel, precarious access to healthcare and shortages of antibiotics, children’s medicines, malaria medicines and life-saving drugs for chronic illness. Nearby hospitals are also facing similar shortages of drugs and supplies.”

Sexual violence
In a worrying development, WHO said, hospitals in the region had reported dramatic increases in cases of sexual violence. The agency said counselling services in most IDP sites were not available, including for reproductive health, sexual violence or HIV/AIDS.

“In many settings, survivors have no access to even the minimum health and psychological support, leaving them vulnerable to a range of potential negative health problems, including HIV/AIDS,” WHO stated.

George Mugenya, the medical superintendent of health at the Rift Valley General Provincial Hospital in Nakuru, said services were slowly returning to normal but the displacement remained a key concern.

“When the violence was intense, we put elective cases on hold to handle only emergency cases; now that it is calmer, we are noticing that some services are still affected because of the displacement of some of the medical staff,” he said. “Some workers have not reported to duty while others come irregularly and this has affected services such as those offered in the maternity section but, overall, things are returning to normal.”

He said the challenge was in re-stocking the hospital’s medical supplies and reviving clinic services for patients of chronic diseases.

Teams led by WHO officials visited the towns of Eldoret and Nakuru to coordinate the health cluster activities. The teams visited IDP camps and hospitals to monitor disease outbreaks as well as the availability of medical supplies and health workers.

According to WHO, the biggest worry at all sites was diarrhoea in children as well as acute respiratory infections. It was also concerned about irregular access to malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB medicines, while patients with asthma, hypertension and diabetes also lacked access.

Kenya’s Ministry of Health, together with WHO, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Kenya Red Cross Society and other health NGOs, undertook a joint health assessment on 30 January of Uasin Gishu district in the Rift Valley, which is hosting 150,000 IDPs in 11 camps.

As a result, the medical officer reported that a mass immunisation against measles and polio, as well as the de-worming of children and provision of Vitamin A supplements, would begin in February.

The health officials also discussed the possibility of introducing mobile services for areas where normal services had been disrupted.


Women’s Memorandum to the Mediation Team

Sunday, 03. February 2008 von Jannek

The following text is a statement by the Kenyan Women’s Consultation Group on the Current Crisis in Kenya. For more than two weeks Kenyan women from several Organizations met and discussed the current crisis and approaches to end it. Action Aid International, Vital Voices, UNIFEM, Nairobi Peace Initiative and Urgent Action Fund-Africa facilitated the consultations. The statement was presented to the international mediation team including, Kofi Annan, Graça Machel and Benjamin Mkapa at Serena Hotel Nairobi on January 25, 2008.

The statement has been published before, for example at Pambazuka News.

Since we think it is a very valuable statement, we have decided to quote it in full length:


Women’s Memorandum to the Mediation Team

Serena Hotel, Nairobi, January 25, 2008

Kenyan Women’s Consultation Group on the Current Crisis in Kenya (2008-01-29)

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 reconstruction.
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.

(c) by Gado

(c) by Gado

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 government.
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.

Habari ya leo – Today’s news from Kenya 01/24/2008

Thursday, 24. January 2008 von Jannek

Human Rights watch accuses local ODM leaders in the Rift valley region of organising atrocities

Human Rights Watch investigations indicate that, after Kenya’s disputed elections, opposition party officials and local elders planned and organized ethnic-based violence in the Rift Valley, Human Rights Watch said today. (Read and comment here)


We are waiting for an official statement from ODM. They have to take actions now.

Number of reported rapes have doubled

Violence against women seems to explode. According to reuters , reported cases of rape and sexual attacks against women have doubled in areas of Kenya hit by political violence amid a climate of impunity for gangs carrying them out, a senior U.N. official said on Tuesday. In an interview with Reuters, Kathleen Cravero, director of the world body’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, called for aid programs in the East African nation to make sure that vulnerable women and girls were protected from attack. “In Nairobi hospital and in the medical centers and hospitals around the areas of greatest violence, the number of rapes and sexual attacks being reported by women and being handled by medical personnel has doubled,” Cravero said. “What that tells us is that we have a very serious problem indeed because only a small percentage of rapes and sexual attacks are ever reported in Kenya or in many other countries.”Cravero stopped short of directly accusing the Kenyan government of ignoring the problem but said the political violence had led to “an environment that is tolerating very high levels of rape and sexual attack against women”. She said she was sure there was targeting of women for political or ethnic reasons although there was no evidence that either side was particularly responsible. But much of the sexual violence was opportunistic, she said.”Gangs find a woman who’s searching for firewood, gangs find a couple of young girls that are fetching water,” Cravero said. “There’s nothing to stop them, there’s a climate of impunity, they’re sure there will be no consequences, so it happens, and this is what we have to stop.”

We ask for support for setting up Rape crisis centers. For those wishing to contribute to the appeal for rape crisis centres, the bank details are available from vicky@urgentactionfund-africa.or.ke

War media
The film-maker and member of the Coalition of Concerned Kenyan Writers Simiyu Barasa brings the discussion about the role of local and international media forward with the powerful essay “War journalism: Kenya’s newest tourist attraction” published on the kwani blog.

Barasa picks up the concept of “peace journalism” by the Norwegian Scholar John Galtun and showed how the local media tried to use their influence to promote peace and failed due to an international “war journalism”. He gives examples how cameras create stories and media attention is only drawn by violence. This is done by the very same media cooperation which thought it was their responsibility not to show any cruel pictures after 9/11 and during the Iraq war.

Charity event in Boston

People on the other side of the ocean will have the chance to raise money at a benefit concert in “The Roxy” in Boston, Ma on Feb. 2nd. Numerous Kenyan artist will preform. The money will go to the Kenyan Red Cross. It is organized by “Vuma Kenya”. For more information look up the Joseph Karoki blog.


Because the words “tribe” and “tribal” have had a great recurrence of no less than once in each media reporting about Kenya, Pambazuka Editors try to give a very detailed and lengthy definition that fits. What’s in a word? What does the word “tribe” carry? Here below Pambazuka Editors give you a few snippets of what is a long struggle to get US Mainstream media to stop using a racist and stereotypical lens in its coverage of Africa. One can find the fascinating discussion at www.h-net.org/~africa. They end with an excerpt from an Africa Action essay on the word.

A way forward?
Do we see a way forward in the Kenya’s stale-mate? Nation Media reports the news that the rivals Kibaki and Odinga are actually slated to meet together today at Harambee House.

President Kibaki and the Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga have both arrived at Nairobi’s Harambee House for the first face-to-face talks over the political crisis out of disputed election results. No agenda has been given for the talks brokered by a team of international mediators led by former UN chief Kofi Annan. Mr Odinga was accompanied by one of his party’s top officials, Mr William Ruto. President Kibaki arrived with five members of his Cabinet, including Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Ministers George Saitoti (Security), Martha Karua (Justice), Samuel Poghisio (Information) and Ali Mwakwere (Transport).

We eagerly await results of the talks, and cross our fingers for an end to the violence.


The second part of our article Eyes on the International Community concerning elections in Africa about Ethiopia is out now. The next part will be about the election in in the Democratic Republic of Congo and and will be published in the following days.

Habari ya leo – Today’s news from Kenya 01/23/2008

Wednesday, 23. January 2008 von Jannek

While Annan, Benjamin Mkapa and Graca Machel arrive in Nairobi, the killing continues. 7 people died in Nandi, Rift Valley region. At least this time it seems that none of the mediators got insulted by Mr Mutua.We appreciate the presents of Mrs Graca Machel. Finally the UN resolution 1325 on women, peace and security is being taken seriously.

Graca Machel

We do not appreciate the Presence of Ugandan President Museveni. Not only that rumours about Ugandan military operating on in Kenya are so hard to kill, that the Uganda army now mad newspaper advertisements in Kenya to say they are not in the country (We still have not found any proof that they have been in the country, but the advertisement almost leads to the question: What do they have to hide?). Looking on the number of Ugandan opposition leaders in exile, his presence during the mediation does not seem to be positively influential. We will take a closer look at how Museveni won his last election in Part 4 of the analysis: “Eyes on the International Community concerning elections in Africa.”


Good news is that both sides said they want the International Criminal Court to investigate the killings. Hopefully actions will follow words.



The Orange Democratic Movement has announced it will file a case against the Government at the International Criminal Court (ICC). In their case, the party announced that they had named President Kibaki and his Cabinet, Roads minister John Michuki, Police Commissioner Hussein Ali, AP commandant Kinuthia Mbugua and his GSU commandant Mathew Iteere as the people they want investigated and tried. Prof Nyong’o said about 3,000 guns and uniforms had disappeared from the GSU camp in Nairobi and were being used by gangs masquerading as police officers, but could not give any evidence.

African women thought she saw a change in the police tactic in the area between Kibera and Ligi Ndogo grounds where ODM prayers were held. It looked like the police forces would manage to keep it peaceful. Unfortunately her hopes were too optimistic, police lobbed teargas into the Ligi Ndogo grounds and a mob tried to burn down the Telkom Posta building on Ngong Road. The pictures of the mob hit the international news,

the mourning and grief at the funerals did not.


John Barbieri from the US Coalition for Peace with Truth and Justice in Kenya published the interesting article “The poverty of international journalism” in which he analyses the role of the US state department in East Africa and also criticises the role of international media. He quotes from Rebecca Wanjiku’s blog:

“...the mainstream U.S. media appears to send the following double message: we are not interested in Africans or African politics, that is unless there is a full out Rwanda-like bloodbath (with pictures of gruesome machete attacks and all, of course) so we can stereotype all Africans as the savages we think they are.”


The well read blog from Joseph Karoki raises the question whether ODM could have done more to prevent the ethnic clashes especially in Rift valley and states that Raila could have done more. He posted a BBC interview of Raila Odinga, in which he denies that ODM could have done more. We also recommend Wandia Njoya’s post "Maybe Kibaki and Raila Are Powerless To Stop the Senseless Slaughter (But Reconciling Them Is Still Worth A Try)" in which she compares the situation in Rwanda with Kenya, coming to the conclusion that “maybe we would have avoided this tragedy if Kenyans had not deluded themselves that we are not like other African countries.” We do not necessarily agree with all her points, since there are many differences between the history of African nations, but read it for yourself.

Violence and women in Kenya

Monday, 07. January 2008 von Jannek

Looking at the current outbreak of violence in Kenya, and thinking about who knows how to end the violence, one should consider that Kenya has two Nobel Peace Price winners.

One is the well known founder of the Green Belt Movement- Prof. Wangari Maathai. She wrote a comment in the Guardian today titled “Time to show greatness”. After explaining the background of the previous election, the disappointment in the fight for a constitution, she calls upon the civil society of Kenya:

Even as political leaders play their role, citizens should refrain from violence. All 42 communities in Kenya are bound by geography and history to live as neighbours. Killing, destroying property and displacing our brothers and sisters creates a legacy that will haunt our children and their children. Let us stand up for each other, irrespective of our ethnic backgrounds and political persuasions. Injustice to one is injustice to all of us. If we, individually and collectively, are not the conscience of our country, then who is?”

The other Kenyan nobel peace prize winner is the Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, winner of the 2007 Alternative Nobel Peace Price, a prize given out to honour those “working on practical and exemplary solutions to the most urgent challenges facing the world today”. The Jury commended her “for showing in diverse ethnic and cultural situations how religious and other differences can be reconciled even after violent conflict, and knitted together through a cooperative process that leads to peace and development“. Dekha Abdi’s knowledge and work is most important for Kenya now, more than ever. She showed that it is possible to restore peace. It is a slow process and it takes a lot of patience, nevertheless it is possible. You only wished people would have listen to what is a true Kenyan heroines.

Another brave Kenyan woman is the human rights activist Gladwell Otieno. She read a manifest from several activists at the Grand Regency Hotel in Nairobi on Saturday. She stated 11 demands, among them preparation for a new election, asking foreign governments not to acknowledge Kibaki as a President and not to give out visas to members of the government or their families, in order to prevent them from running away with State money. Gladwell Otieno became famous by fighting corruption and naming names of those with big off-shore accounts. She was pushed to resign as the as executive director of Transparency International (Kenya) by leading members of TI Kenya, who had close bonds with the Kibaki administration (truly one of the darkest chapters of TI’s history.)

It would be easy to continue with this list of Kenyan women having the courage and knowledge to improve the situation in Kenya and it sure is not the lack of trying that prevents their ideas from succeeding.

In almost every violent conflict, women suffer most. It was no surprise that most people killed in the church in Eldoret were women and children. Violation of women’s rights has been a huge problem even in times of peace in Kenya. Within this current conflict situation, rape is being used as weapon, one that destroys women’s lives and their families.

It is of importance that these atrocities towards women are not only attributed to the times of conflict, but to be mapped as they occur and not forgotten and charges brought against those that committed them. There, for instance, has been little coverage of the pre-election violence against women.

The number of women running for Parliament was as big as never, but only a little bit more than a dozen women were elected, less than in the last election. Even two weeks before the election the TV Station Al-Jazeera reported at least 255 cases of assaults against women in connection with the election campaign, leading to exactly 0 charges. (This fact alone is reason enough not to call this election fair.)

Al-Jazeera about violence against Female Candidates during the election campaign aired on the 14th of December 2007

One of the reasons for this violence against female politicians is the persistence of an extremely patriarchal political system since the independence. The system of men (old) taking over power from even older men who are not ready for change (Kenyatta was succeeded by his Vice president Moi, Moi by his Vice president Kibaki, e.t.c) Odinga, who wants to break this monotony and promises change is a serious threat to the seemingly established system. With truly democratic elections the leadership of old men has a lot to lose with more than 50% of the potential voters being women.

It would be encouraging to know that the voices already raised by these women of distinction, voices of credibility, voices that have been appreciated and rewarded by the rest of the world, are not ignored by the people they are now addressing.



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