Version classiqueVersion mobile

Kenya’s Past as Prologue

 | 
Christian Thibon
, 
Marie-Aude Fouéré
, 
Mildred Ndeda
, 
et al.

Kikuyu-Kalenjin Relations in IDP Camps and the 2013 Elections: An Invitation to ‘The’ Conversation

Susan Mwangi

Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 Raila A. Odinga, “What Role Does Ethnicity Play in Africa’s Elective Politics?” Posted by African P (...)

1Since 1963, elections in Kenya have been a common albeit a contested phenomenon with groups and individuals aligning themselves on the basis of religion, class, gender and ethnicity to ensure a win or/and retention of power and authority of the ruling group. Of all these, ethnicity, however, though unfixed and often contested, has and continues to be the greatest vehicle through which people and communities are mobilized and identities interrogated as the political elite fight it out in the campaign battlefield. The civil wars in Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, among others, can be attributed to the contest between ethnic groups over the control of the apparatus of state and government for the allocation of the national pie.1 The politicization of ethnicity and the use of the ‘us’ and/against ‘them’ to denote differences in ethnic identities is also actually articulated in discourses on land as the jargon through which the political processes in Africa are based. In Rwanda, for instance, the genocide revolved around ethnic-cum political identities that were mobilized by Hutu against the minority Tutsi. Ethnicity and politics in Africa generally can thus not be isolated because many times the two dictate who does or who does not ascend to power both at the grassroots and at the national levels.

  • 2 For a well-articulated and detailed analysis of ethnic identities and how they are negotiated in Ke (...)

2For the agricultural communities in particular the question of land is not only sensitive and controversial but it forms the basis for (de) mobilization and formation of voting blocks of especially vulnerable land hungry ethnic communities, with each having a narrative on land ownership to fit their land claims. For such groups, the land disposition initiated by colonialism in the early 19th century plays a major role in the economic and political bargaining power of those concerned. The Kikuyu and the Kalenjin form part of this category. Both live in fertile lands and have equally questioned land utilization and allocation to individuals and groups they claim to be allochtons.2 Indeed it is on the basis of the land which is often couched in ethnic identities that elections are won or lost by the two communities. Nowhere else is this contestation rampant than in the vast Rift Valley region, an area where colonial alienation of land, redistribution by the Kenyatta government (1963-1978) and re-divisioning by President Moi (1978-2002) continue to inform the history of Kenya’s electioneering process. While the Kalenjin claim that the White Highlands were originally their ancestral land, the Kikuyu on the other partly assert that were it not for their sweat and blood, the Highlands would still be unproductive. The later also claim that many of the pieces of land claimed by the Kalenjin and Maasai communities were acquired through a process where the owners sold through a willing buyer-willing seller basis. For them the question of land repossession by either the Kalenjin or the Maasai in the Rift Valley does not indeed arise because according to the Kenyan Constitution a Kenyan can own land or any other property in any corner of the country provided these are authentically owned. It is the authenticity of such ownership, however, that the Kalenjin have contested. They argue that while colonialism played its role in dispossessing the community of fertile parcels, the Kenyatta government hardly considered the community when it was redistributing land after independence. They also note that their pleas to the Kenyatta government to genuinely, redistribute such land fell on deaf ears because the Kikuyu elites always protected land interests through dubious land buying companies majorly owned and run by the same Kikuyu elites (Widner, 1992). While this paper dwells majorly on the merger between TNA and URP and the 2013 elections victory of the two, this merger and emergent relations between the people from the two communities and in particular, those living in IDP camps cannot be understood in a vacuum. Let us now look at the relations of the two communities from a historical perspective.

Pre-colonial and colonial Kikuyu-Kalenjin relations: Some reflections

3Apart from the obvious small time clan and neighbour conflicts over animals and land boundaries, pre-colonial relations among and between Kenyan ethnic groups were largely amicable. Communities resolved conflicts with due regard to indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms and often, warring factions were brought together by councils of elders who ensured that justice and reconciliation were, as the hallmarks of the development of any community, achieved. And while we do not deny the possibility of long-lasting feuds among communities, these were however, few and quite dispersed as compared to conflicts that emerged with and after the advent of colonialism in Africa.

4In Africa, it has been generally argued that the primary motive of colonialism was economic. Colonialism was exploitative and disrespectful to indigenous boundaries and to indigenous mechanisms of conflict resolution. Itspolicies werebased on capital accumulation which included the exportation of raw materials from their colonies, labour exploitation and transfer through slaves in some areas, taxation of natives and above all the appropriation of African fertile lands. In Kenya, colonial imperialism reached its peak in late 1890s when fertile lands in the Central province and the Rift Valley region were transformed by the British settlers into large scale plantations owned and managed by few foreign landowners. Not surprisingly, to use Franck Furedi’s (1989) words, the impetus behind early resistance movements against colonialism was most discernible in this regionand the politics of land was perhaps the key question dividing Kenya’s ethnic sub-nationalismsat and after independence. It has also been argued that the distribution of this scarce resource underlay most of the ethnic rivalries at independence and the division between KANU and KADU between 1960 and 1964 (Throup, 1987). Scholars have argued that much of the alienated lands in the Rift Valley belonged to the pastoral Maasai people, the Nandi, and the Kipsigis communities. In addition, between 1903 and 1907, land was appropriated from the Kikuyu community by the colonial government and the subsequent rapid social and economic transformation emerging out of this alienation, prompted a fierce retaliation battle with the Europeans. The early colonial land policies and most specifically the Crown Land Ordinance of 1902 was also designed with little if any, regard to prior land possessions. The colonial government assumed that the lack of title deeds or inoccupation and lack of cultivation implied no ownership. According to the 1902 land law such land was considered freeland which could be passed over to the Crown at will. It is such land dispossession and disregard to original ownership that disregarded ancestral claims that the political economy of colonialism was founded. The implications for this were and continue to affect the relations between the British and Kenyans, as well as relations among and between different Kenyan communities. Communities became suspicious of their neighbours and identity markers redrawn after colonialism as real or imagined ethnic relations began to be manipulated by African elites in mobilizing for political gains. Among the communities affected by this phenomenon in Kenya were the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin. They began to view and accuse each over land claims and to create imaginary boundaries based on their collective memorizing. Henceforth, competition over land became the fulcrum for political mobilization of the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin.

  • 3 Kiprop Emmanuel, a resident of Rongai in Nakuru, claims to be an IDP because his father’s land loca (...)
  • 4 On the relations between the various communities in the Rift Valley during the Kenyatta regime, see (...)

5The increasing number of Kikuyu squatters in White Highlands is another issue that was to have far reaching impacts on the Kikuyu-Kalenjin relations during colonialism. By 1929, the number of squatters had increased tremendously as the colonial administrators pushed thousands of Kikuyu able-bodied men and women to work on their plantations. These squatters had been dispossessed of their land by their kinsmen or by the colonial government. Their numbers, according to Furedi, increased every year and by mid 1930s it was clear that they were not welcome back in Kikuyu districts from where they had originated. The Kikuyulandlord class was indeed hostile towards the squatters because as they claimed they had lost their land rights. They were basically relying on the colonial government to give them land around the Highlands as a reward for their labour or to be offered secure employment. This, as would be expected, was not a welcome move especially from the Maasai, the Kipsigis and the Nandi communities who claimed ancestral ownership of such lands in the Rift valley (Furedi, 1989). Their claims to the Highlands, they argued were based on an assumed right of natives to own and control their homelands. To this group, it was only independence that would drive the Kikuyu back to their original lands in central province. The Kikuyu on the other hand eagerly fought and waited for the granting of independence with the intention, at least in the Rift Valley, to drive out ‘foreigners’ and take over the lands that they had long cultivated as either squatters or colonial employees. By 1960, the Kikuyu-Kalenjin relations had thus began to sour and KADU, a party that comprised the smaller marginalised ethnic communities, including the Kalenjin, hoped to grant regional governments control over exchange of land and thus effectively block the settlement of such category of landless Kikuyu in the region (Widner, 1991). The situation was to become even worse with independence and the ascendancy of Jomo Kenyatta, a Kikuyu into power. Some IDPs from the Kalenjin communities allege that Kenyatta, together with close members of his now prosperous Kikuyu community bought off the highlands and redistributed them to a clique of rich Kikuyu relatives and cronies – thus heightening the hatred that had been occasioned by the immigration of the Kikuyu into the Rift Valley in the 1920s.3 The clientelist networks, as Widner observes, became the primary structures of representation, linking Kenyans to the state through political patrons. The Kalenjin secured little at least in terms of land redistribution and state jobs from the Kenyatta government. Their hopes of getting back alienated land were ended with the establishment of land companies headed by Kikuyu elites. The Ministry of Land and Settlement was headed by Kenyatta’s allies making it even more difficult for the Kalenjin through their land-buying companies to either purchase land or access loans from the Kikuyu headed financial institutions (Kanyinga, 2009). The unity of Kenyans was thus compromised and the Kikuyu-Kalenjin relations were the worst affected.4

  • 5 I interviewed Karanja Njihia in Elburgon in 2009 when undertaking a research on the post-election v (...)

6The ascendancy of President Daniel arap Moi, a Kalenjin, as the leader of the nation in 1978, was thus a momentous period for the Kalenjin nation. President Moi started his leadership period on a very high note. Apparently he had learnt some fewlessonsfrom his predecessor. He did not wish to antagonize himself or his community and he wished not to present himself as a ‘tribalist’. Indeed he constantly stressed the dangers of tribalism to the country’s stability denouncing sectionalism (Widner, 1992). He thus went round the country championing for development of the country through improved education, health and improved infrastructure for the nation. His government was, however, to be faced with major challenges especially because he had at His disposal very few land resources to reward and distribute to his allies. The classical connotations of neo-patrimonialism as rewards to clients especially by the use of land were not applicable to President Moi. Land had been given to powerful people in the Kenyatta regime. Indeed even Moi’s attempt to restructure the Kenyan state to advance Kalenjin interests was to be done in a slow yet calculated manner. As David Throup notes, the economy was less buoyant, the trebling of the population since independence to 20 million meant that pressure on resources was more intense, but above all Moi faced the insurmountable obstacle of Kenyatta’s successful entrenchment of the Kikuyu. Every move that Moi made to reduce Kikuyu hegemony and to dismantle the Kenyatta state thus threatened the stability of his government. He was, however, to succumb to the whims of tribal politics when challenged with the GEMA political and economic wits, dwindling economic fortunes, as well as the 1982 attempted coup that threatened his Presidency. In a resource short polity, Widner notes, the elite find the ethnic idiom useful as a way of sustaining their hold into power and also frustrating the ‘others’. President Moi had to ignite the Kalenjin consciousness by portraying them as marginalized and vulnerable group in relation to the Kikuyu who were presented as the ‘ethnic others’. Moi astutely began to divert resources from Central Province to the Kalenjin dominated areas as the Kikuyuwere presented as the source of economic and political insecurity. According to Throup (1987), whereas the Kikuyu held 30 percent of cabinet posts throughout Kenyatta’s rule, by mid- 1980s they had fallen to four full cabinet ministers Kibaki, Matiba, Magugu, and Maina Wanjigi while the number of Kalenjin ministers nearly doubled from 9 to 17 percent. The president also advanced Kalenjin interests through his control of parastatal appointments (Throup, 1987). The impact was frustration. The Kikuyu community had to unite against the Kalenjin onslaught, at least politically and economically. It is in the light of such frustration that the 1992 and 1997 ethnic conflicts in the Rift Valley that saw the emergence of more than 100,000 Kikuyu IDPs and property destroyed were informed. Many Kikuyu IDPs continue to wallow in poverty yet they claim that their ancestral land possessions are in the hands of well-known Kalenjin neighbours. In Molo, Elburgon and Uasin Gishu, many Kikuyu and the Nandi are to date, suspicious of the recent pact made between the Kikuyu headed by Uhuru Kenyatta and the Kalenjin headed by William Ruto. They argue that sustaining such a political deal would require a comprehensive and thorough engagement of elders from both sides. Elders here, they note, should not be politicians but councils of elders comprising elderly people who have lived in the Rift Valley throughout their lives.5

7President Moi attempted several times without fail to initiate a Kikuyu-Kalenjin dialogue after the 1992/97 ethnic violence. Moi was aware of the economic and political might of the Kikuyu and perhaps to sustain his hold into power, he occasionally used the Kikuyu elite like the late Njenga Karume to bring an end to the ethnic animosity between the two communities. Of course, this was a period when the opposition was vibrant and the Kikuyu were at the epicenter of this dissidence. Moi had to either silence the Kikuyu or bring them close. The former failed and in 2002 a Kikuyu President, Mwai Kibaki, was inaugurated after 24 years of a well-calculated Kalenjin dominance of politics and the Kenyan economy.

8Kibaki came to power with a promise of ‘de-ethnicising’ politics and the economy. He had been voted in by an expectant mass of Kikuyu and non-Kikuyu. Majority of the Kalenjin including the now Deputy President William Ruto had, however, supported Uhuru Kenyatta a handpicked candidate of President Moi. The win by President Kibaki once again left the Kalenjin in the ‘political cold’ of the 1960s as the Kikuyu’s time to eat re-emerged. It would be wrong to imagine that all the Kikuyu or the Kalenjin benefited from the Presidency of one of their own. On the contrary many suffered the pangs of poverty and underdevelopment yet class antagonism within ethnic groups was relegated to the periphery as politicians manipulated real or imagined ethnic narratives to secure public resources for themselves while neglecting the poor even from their communities (Widner, 1991; Kanyinga, 2009).

  • 6 On the Kenyan 2007 general elections and related violence, see Jérôme Lafargue (2007) and the Journ (...)
  • 7 The Kikuyu returnees were not welcome back after independence and they are not welcome today. Their (...)
  • 8 Prisca Kamungi (2013) gives a detailed account of the reasons why there were few Kalenjin IDPs in c (...)

9If the relations between the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin were to be weighed on a scale for comparative purposes, it was thought that the two communities would perhaps never sit for political discussions after the 2007 elections during which period many Kikuyu were killed and displaced from the Rift Valley in an unprecedented manner.6 It is alleged that majority of those displaced were killed by their Kalenjin neighbours in an attempt to repossess their land and other property. Majority of the Kikuyu left Kalenjin dominated areas and many sought refuge in IDP camps which they created in various parts of Nakuru and Naivasha. Others began to live with relatives or rented houses in urban and peri-urban areas in major Kenyan towns or smaller towns around their homes. The squatter phenomenon was also reintroduced in Central Kenya as returnees squatted at or near their original homelands where they were, obviously, not welcome.7 A majority of displaced Kalenjin did not opt for displacement camps. They enjoyed little political sympathy and protection because they were viewed as the perpetrators of the 2007/08 PEV. Many thus lived with friends and relatives while others especially in Eldoret, simply returned to their homes after some few days.8

  • 9 In the leaked Wikileaks Nairobi Cable No. 39 Sally Kosgey (an ethnic Kalenjin) had expressed doubt (...)
  • 10 This was a time when the two leaders were facing charges at the ICC for allegedly instigating the 2 (...)
  • 11 The major pact was done at Eldoret’s 64 stadium with Ruto and Uhuru mandated with leading the two ‘ (...)
  • 12 “Jubilee Alliance Break-Up: What Happens Next?” By Guest Author | December 31, 2012.
  • 13 A Kikuyu, Martha, was considered a spoiler for Uhuru who needed to garner all vote from the Kikuyu (...)

10It was the unexpected9 merger of William Ruto’s URP party and Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA party at the end of 2012 that, however, saw the relations between the two communities change dramatically. The two renegotiated their identities by calling on their communities to forget their differences and forge ahead for a better Kenya. The drastic circumstances of time and space had become important aspects for negotiating solidarities of the two communities.10 Thus, rather than seeing each other as enemies, like they had done in the past, the instrumental approach to ethnicity which is based on manipulating ethnic mobilization for material or psychic gain became hardy. The ICC issue was at the centre of this ethnic mobilization. In the year 2012 and 2013 several negotiated pacts were thus signed and adopted in public meetings between the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin ‘elders’ as a commitment to the unity of the two communities.11 It is within this backdrop that the Jubilee win should be seen. President Uhuru Kenyatta in his acceptance speech as the Jubilee flag bearer asserted that the coalition would bring to an end ‘the era of tribalism’ and the animosity between the two communities would be healed.12 The leaders had decided to create ethnic solidarity to deal with the ‘other’ political blocks including CORD, Eagle as well as with other political parties. Even candidates from the two communities who presented themselves as presidential candidates outside of the Jubilee coalition were ‘othered’ in a classic example of how ethnicity was manipulated by the Tutsi and the Hutus in Rwanda. There were no ‘mulatoos’ during the genocide. One had to belong to either the Tutsi or the Hutu ethnic groups. For Martha Karua and Peter Kenneth, two Kikuyu who sought the presidency of the Republic, their Kikuyuness (primordial attachments to the Kikuyu as a social group) was questioned. It was argued that they were not proper Kikuyu. For Peter Kenneth, for instance, unconfirmed rumours had it that he was supported by a big group of wazungu, a clear indication of his ethnic and primordial affiliation. Martha was simply seen as a spoiler.13

  • 14 See Mutahi Ngunyi and Adams Oloo disagree on the tyranny of numbers part 2. The interview was done (...)

11Pundits had argued that like other political coalitions forged during electioneering periods, the Jubilee merger would collapse before the elections. They were, however, proved wrong as the two communities (through what Mutahi Ngunyi called the ‘tyranny of numbers’14) delivered the 2013 elections with a win.

The Kikuyu and the Kalenjin displaced persons in 2012 and 2013

12The 2013 Kenyan general elections were held under great tension and expectations especially because they were considered a make or break period for the country. They were held after the 2007-2008 crisis which continued to be a refrain through which electoral campaigns were debated and analysed. The land question under whose banner the 2007-2008 PEV were waged was also revisited. And though considered free and fair by the Supreme Court, the 2013 elections left Kenyans from all walks of life more apprehensive and divided (at least as at 2013). Members of the CORD and Jubilee coalitions in particular had great expectations (for a win) and for this they have been worst hit because the coalitions were formed based on ethnic calculations, where each coalition hoped to win. The CORD coalition consisted of majorly the Kamba and the Luo communities while the Jubilee coalitions comprised of the large Kikuyu and the Kalenjin communities who have since the reign of President Kenyatta fought over claims of land ownership, control and accessibility in the vast Rift Valley areas. It is from these two later communities that majority of the IDPs residing in the larger Rift Valley hailed.

Displaced persons and the 2013 pre-election period

  • 15 Many Kenyans register in and around their rural aboards.
  • 16 It was not clear how many IDPs registered as voters.
  • 17 Pipeline is an IDP camp created during the 2007 PEV near Nakuru town. It originally hosted close to (...)

13The March 2013 elections were the first one under the new Constitution promulgated in 2010. They were handled by a new IEBC under Isaac Hassan, and the new electronic registration system, though largely faulted after the elections ensured that as many voters as possible registered from and in places outside of their homes, a hitherto unseen phenomenon in Kenya.15According to IDPs residing in Nakuru at the time of the research, voter registration of IDPs was largely unsuccessful, at least in terms of the number of IDPs registered.16 Broad participation of integrated and IDPs living in camps was not realized as was evidenced from our interviews. Some unsettled IDPs in the Pipeline IDP17 camp and others living in Nakuru town Free Area and Rongai Banita areas, who had managed to locate their identity cards registered in and around primary schools within Nakuru Municipality. Majority of the IDPs, however, reported that they were not able to register as voters because they did not have documents allowing them to register. They alleged that many such documents were misplaced or burnt during the 2008 post-election skirmishes. For those living in camps, for instance, at Pipeline-with about 560 IDPs and Ndefo in Njoro, said that many of their neighbours did not register because they were scared of voting lest the 2007/08 violence re-emerge. This was also the case in Subukia where IDPs from the Pipeline and Mawingu IDP camps were resettled by the government. For this group, mistrust, general indifferenceand fear informed their failure to register and vote in the 2013 elections. This was also captured by IRIN (15 January 2013) when the crew asked one Miss Nyokabi of the Pipeline IDP camp about voting during the March elections. She responded: “How am I expected to participate in another voting exercise if I still have unhealed wounds [as a result] of voting last time?” Others reported that there was little if any civic education regarding registration and the use of the BVR kit further complicated the matter. A group of middle-aged men interviewed sadly reported their suspicion of the use of fingerprints thus:

The fingerprints were designed in order to verify information regarding who was and who was not a member of the gangs used during the 2008 PEV. Many of us were not willing to give our fingerprints because we were told that those fingerprints would later be used to locate anyone who had engaged in crime in the past. We here in the camp are people from diverse localities who were victims or perpetrators of the 2007-2008 PEV and one can be victimized easily.

  • 18 News 24kenya on December 13, 2012 Rugut: BVR myths unfounded.
  • 19 Interview with a woman identified as Nancy at the Pipeline Camp.

14Others were scared of the photographs taken during the exercise arguing that the same would be used to track them down if they ever engaged in crime in future. This scenario was also reported in many parts of central province where voter registration apathy had been noted in areas such as Murang’a, Nyeri and Kirinyaga.18 A group of unregistered women in the Pipeline camp noted that their failure to register was informed by information that went round discouraging people from using the registration machines because they were said to have negative impacts on their future. One woman informed us that they were told that some rays emanating from the machines could cause cancer at a later date.19 Those not registered were therefore not able or were unwilling to vote.

  • 20 This group had been victims of the 1992 and 1997 elections which pitted the Kalenjin against ‘outsi (...)
  • 21 Interview number 17 on July 23, 2013.

15Another IDP category that did not vote but were registered voters observed that the elections were too close to call. They did therefore did not wish to be associated with either of the two coalitions for fear that if they did they may not benefit from the other side in case their candidate lost. Yet another group of men relocated to farms in Kisima in Njoro and Haji farm in Subukia who had registered at Nairobi Road Primary school near Pipeline IDP camp said they did not vote for fear that supporting Jubilee the dominant party in the region was equal to supporting the Kalenjin who had dislocated them from their farms. This category was bitter with the unity between Ruto and Uhuru.20 One of them reported that he chose Peter Kenneth over the others. In Eldoret some integrated IDPs from the Kalenjin community told us that they voted for neither Jubilee nor CORD because none of the two big coalitions, in their views, adequately represented their grievances. For them, Musalia was the ideal candidate. When asked if they eventually voted for Musalia they were reluctant to respond. The Kalenjin in particular indicated that, indeed despite the Jubilee wave that swept the Rift Valley, their vote went to the CORD or Musalia because they could not trust a Kikuyu president.21 By and large, we however, noted that 85 young adults and 50 middle aged and elderly people interviewed out of the 150 sampled voted for the ‘UhuRuto’ coalition.

16The above narratives clearly indicate that the IDPs received inadequate voter education awareness especially regarding registration. Many IDPs reported that much of the information they received about the elections was from politicians who constantly promised them that they would resettle them once elected. Some members of the CSOs also briefed the IDPs regarding how to cast their votes and how to tick appropriately. Within the background of elections held under a new Constitution and especially after a post conflict situation, voter education ought to have been conducted in depth. The UN observes that:

  • 22 www.un/womewatch/osagi/wps Chapter 5.

In every election, voter and civic education are necessary to ensure that all constituents – men and women alike – understand their rights, their political system, the contests they are being asked to decide, and how and where to vote. For an election to be successful and democratic, voters must understand their rights and responsibilities, and must be sufficiently knowledgeable and well informed to cast ballots that are legally valid and to participate meaningfully in the voting process.22

17Marginalised groups in particular should be a target for civic educators. This education should go on throughout the registration, campaign and voting period to ensure that no information by passes those targeted. This appears not to have been the case during the 2013 electioneering period. The IDPs noted that while documents were availed to them many illiterate and busy would be voters were not able to read the same and this greatly disadvantaged them. It was also noted that accessibility to IDP camps was difficult.

  • 23 The Daily Nation June 25, 2013 reported that the IDPs nationwide were jittery over non-resettlement (...)

18The question of land was also (and still remains) central during the campaign period. For the IDPs the land question informed their voting behaviour. Many had been double dispossessed of their lands either in Central in the 1920s or in the 1990s during the Moi regime. The 2007 dispossession was however, the epitome of their misfortunes. Many IDPs who voted the Jubilee coalition noted that they were promised resettlement within a hundred days of the UhuRuto win. The remaining IDPs from the Pipeline camp, as are others all over Kenya, are complaining due to the failure of the Jubilee government to deliver on their promise. IDPs from Nakuru in particular are accusing the government of failing to demarcate land given to them by the Kibaki government in Subukia.23

The aftermath and analysis of the Kikuyu-Kalenjin relations

  • 24 Interview with an elderly couple in Rongai, Nakuru.
  • 25 Interview with a Kalenjin young man in Nakuru town. He claims that his family’s land was given to a (...)
  • 26 Kimari, an IDP at the Pipeline camp. Members of his family have since relocated to Subukia.

19There were mixed reactions among IDPs from the two communities in the camps after the Jubilee coalition won the 2013 polls. Generally, majority of the IDPs were carried away by the euphoria and publicly expressed their hope that the political union of the two communities was an indication of good things to come, meaning a lasting settlement of the land problem and normalization of relations between the two communities. Many Kikuyu, in particular, saw this as the best opportunity to return to their original homes and consequently renegotiate their identity as co-owners of land in the vast Rift Valley. The Kalenjin on their part considered this a good opportunity for their Kingpin and political pointman in the region, Ruto, to seduce Uhuru to renegotiate their lost land back from the Kikuyu without necessarily having to use force.24 There were however, a section of the IDPs who have learnt the hard way that politicians cannot be trusted. They reasoned that political statements and unions are based on political expediency and vested interests of political bigwigs but not the common good. This group of IDPs argues that if the interests of the politicians change, so would the related social and ethnic arrangements. For the Kalenjin in this category, they in particular distrust the Kikuyu and their argument is that once Uhuru stabilizes the government, he will easily discard Ruto and enrich his community and friends.25 The Kikuyu in this lot on their part argue that Ruto would not allow them to get back to their lands and that he will issue title deeds to those who repossessedtheir land after the 2007 elections.26 The IDPs observe that as is the ‘norm’ in Kenya, ethnic identities will override the interests of their lot and each leader will favour their ethnic group (or those in his economic class) while subtly ignoring, however, the interests of other communities. The communities are therefore captives of their leading politicians.

20One thing that is clear about the Kikuyu-Kalenjin relations from the perspective of majority of the IDPs is that the UhuRuto ‘union’ is conditional. It all depends on how well delicate interests and expectations are handled. To begin with, some IDPs believe that Uhuru and Ruto single-handedly carry the hopes, risks and fears of their respective communities. As long as they remain united, the two communities will be at peace. The following questions therefore beg: What happens after these politicians exit the political scene? Aren’t there objective issues that transcend political personalities that strain ethnic relations in Kenya and shouldn’t national cohesion and integration be pegged on resolution of these objective issues rather than gratification of the whims and egos of ethnic chiefs?

  • 27 See Jean-François Bayart (2009); and Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz (1999).

21For a long time, Kenyan politics have depicted individual politicians as more effective in addressing socio-political problems than national institutions. Individuals have overshadowed institutions in resolution of national issues. In fact, individuals threaten, intimidate and even restructure institutions to ensure that their personal interests are safeguarded.27 Such self-aggrandizement behaviours in some instances, do not in fact consider the depth of ethnic cleavages and in this way the two communities may actually not benefit from the Jubilee government. In the Machiavellian understanding of the relationship between the leaders and the led, the IDPs in both campsargued that it may be a government just like others that have enriched leading politiciansand their cronies while forgetting those who helped them climb the ladder. Self-enrichment in the Kenyan state accounts for the numerous amendments of the independence constitution and the consequent destruction of devolved institutions and the weakening of the institutions mandated to check abuse of power and protection of the common good.

22Good-willed powerful individuals may sometimes fight for the common good; and even when this happens, the success of the initiative depends on the plight of such individuals. Most IDPs and Kenyans of all walks of life, often, put their hope in persons rather than institutions. Their hopes rise or die with the rise and fall of such persons. Unless this trend is transformed and institutions rather than individual persons are empowered to transact national business in an impartial manner, the big man syndrome in Kenya will continue and there always will be persons who can hold the entire nation at ransom. This explains why the Kikuyu-Kalenjin relations may depend on what happens to the two leading politicians–Uhuru and Ruto respectively. As noted by Young (2002), leadership is the first condition in managing ethnic diversities in Africa, as evidenced in the example of Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, who put public before private and, though seriously misguided on economic policy, steadfastly willed a nation into existence and built a civic scaffold for a territorial state.

  • 28 The Constitution of Kenya revised edition 2010 published by the National Council for Law Reporting (...)

23The second condition is the implementation of the constitution and the entrenchment of the constitutional culture in Kenya. The constitution of Kenya 2010 was carefully crafted to strengthen institutions, foster respect for the rule of law and reverse the big man syndrome in Kenya by asserting the rights and obligations of each and every Kenyan.28 This is a new thing in Kenya. The challenge that is clear to all is that the new constitutional dispensation is being ushered in an environment that is saturated with persons, habits and beliefs that are inclined to the old ways of personalized socio-political arrangements. Clientelism, primordial and instrumental solidarities based on ethnicities, corruption and disorder as instruments for violence have become an integral part of African politics (Chabal and Daloz, 1999). The new institutions must overthrow these old systems and ways of doing things if the good they were intended to bring is to be realized. Land reform, streamlining of the justice system, respect to the rule of law, protection of vulnerable and marginalized persons and groups, including IDPs, effective implementation of anti-corruption policies among other things depend on effective implementation of the constitution in a fair and objective way through the relevant institutions. Resettlement of IDPs in particular should be based on clear and effective profiling of the groups as well as respect for land user and ownership rights in any given part of the country. As Monette (2002) noted, IDPs are not often accurately counted due in part to disagreements over how to define them and the reaction that this may elicit from donors and members of the international communities. It is for this reason that scholars have emphasized that estimates given by governments and their partners may well be conservative and in many cases falling short of the actual number of displaced persons. Displacement and the poor living conditions that accompany it also poses health related problems, insecurity and sexual violence, lack of basic necessities and lack of access to justice. When circumstances allow for IDPs to return home, many remain vulnerable as they attempt to reintegrate into an often hostile environment (USAID, 2004). Many interviewed IDPs noted that while the government has tried to purchase land for them in some parts of the Rift Valley this has not been possible due to hostility from theirwould be neighbours and hosts. And while the Kenyan Constitution has clearprovisions regarding land ownership in any part of the country, the host communities (especially those that were to host the Kikuyu among the Maasai) have often argued that there are many more IDPs that have yet to be settled (Kitale, 2011). Profiling and clear reference to the Constitution is arguably the best and most sustainable basis of national cohesion and integration on which relations between not only Kikuyu and Kalenjin but also every other community in Kenya are to be regulated. However, this reliable foundation is still in its infancy and unless it is well nurtured, it will be futile to lay hope on it.

  • 29 IDPs from the 2007 PEV were still complaining and protesting that about 1,740 IDPs from 20 camps we (...)
  • 30 Informants noted that many of their grudges simply resurface during electioneering periods and are (...)
  • 31 For an in-depth analysis on the conditions of IDPs in camps and new homes, see Lynch (2011); Pavane (...)

24The third condition has to do with civic literacy. IDPs have witnessed the selfishness and hypocrisy of politicians. To begin with they are currently (July 2013) crying that while they had been promised resettlement within a hundred days, they are yet to be resettled.29 Those who have been resettled also complained of harsh conditions in their new homes and have been calling on the government to look into their conditions especially in the provision of infrastructural service (schools, health centres and roads). The politicized ethnicity as was observed by the IDPs from both communities has also seen persons who lived happily and peacefully with each other for many years suddenly turned into enemies during election seasons for political reasons. Many talk of no personal grudges against one another. The ‘grudges’ that are vocalized are generalized and vague, for instance, ‘Kikuyu grabbed our land’ (this is done by the Kalenjin), or ‘Kalenjin are opportunists’ (as was said by Kikuyu IDPs).30 What we noted was that there is lack of specific and actual accusations made before any court of law that would justify such generalizations. This explains why Kikuyu are condemned for the evils or perceived evils of Kenyatta and Kibaki eras while Kalenjin are blamed for the evils of the Moi era. The other communities perceive themselves as innocent victims of these two communities merely because they have not had the opportunity to produce the ‘biggest man’ in the country. Civic literacy involves critical consciousness that yields some conditions for detachment (at the personal, community and institutional levels).31

  • 32 For a more detailed analysis of how politicization of ethnicity breeds ethnic favouritism, see Gagn (...)

25At the community level, Kenyans need to be detached from irrational ethnic and political party (since they are ethnic based) related biases and generalizations that enhance ethnic solidarity at the expense of alienating other communities. The politicization of ethnicity which has often been blamed for social, economic and political conflicts in many African countries needs to be tackled by both the leaders and the led at all the levels ofsociety. This way, ethnic favouritism that has resulted in many electing a member of their own community for the sole reason of ‘eating’ would be eliminated.32 This does not mean demonizing ethnicity but cleansing ethnicity of all its negative elements. National interests should never be sacrificed at the altar of partisan family, ethnic or personal interests. Each individual Kenyan needs to regard him/herself as a citizen with rights and duties as well as responsibilities towards the state of Kenya. This must be regarded as the most valued aspect of one’s identity.

26At the institutional level, institutions need to be detached from persons occupying them such that the power and authority vested in the institutions is carefully and effectively exercised by individuals entrusted with them without the individuals appropriating the power and authority for themselves and thus abusing public office. The power and authority of the institutions and the respect that goes with it must always be left intact in the institutions even as individuals assume and vacate office. This is because the power and authority belongs to the people of Kenya in particular and humanity in general. Civic literacy as described above is a new thing in Kenya and just like the political and constitutional culture, it needs to be nurtured.

27In conclusion, it follows from the analysis above that Kikuyu-Kalenjin relations are personalized and dependent on the whims and wishes of the two leading politicians, Uhuru and Ruto at least for now. Primordial sensations of ‘autochthony’ in a country with scarce resources concentrated in the hands of a few individuals will always result in conflicts among classes and communities and the two leaders following the new constitution have within the short period that they have been in power attempted to redistribute resources and issue title deeds where they never existed, for instance in Lamu and Mombasa countries. Other areas that need to be dealt with and especially the ASALs, however, still present a challenge that could explode if not handled carefully and diligently. This can, however, change only to the extent that the constitution is effectively implemented and a constitutional culture established accompanied by enhancement of civic literacy in Kenya.

Bibliographie

Bibliography

Achieng’, R. Kenya Reconstructing? Building Bridges of Peace: Post-Conflict. Münster: LITVerlag, 2005.

Bayart, J.-F. The State in Africa: The politics of the belly. London: Longman, 1993 Berman, B. Control and Crisis in Colonial Kenya: The dialectic of domination. London: James Currey and Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1990.

Chabal, P. and J.-P. Daloz. Africa Works: Disorder as Political Instrument. Oxford: James Currey, 1999.

Furedi, F. The Mau Mau War in Perspective. London: James Currey, 1991.

Gagnon, V.P. Jr. “Ethnic nationalism and International conflict: The case of Serbia”. International security 19, no. 3 (Winter 1994/95): 130-166.

Geschiere, P. and F. Nyamjoh. “Capitalism and Autochthony: The seesaw of mobility and belonging,” Public Culture 12, no. 2 (2000): 432-53.

Geschiere, P. The Perils of Belonging: Autochthony, citizenship, and exclusion in Europe and Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Human Rights Watch. High Stakes: Political violence and the 2013 elections in Kenya, 2013. At www.hrw.org

Kamungi, P. “The Politics of Displacement in Multi-Party Kenya.” Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 27 no. 3 (2009): 345-364.

__________. Municipalities and IDPs Outside of Camps: The case of Kenya’s ‘integrated’ displaced persons. The Brookings Institution, London School of Economics, 2013.

Kanyinga, K. “Beyond the colonial legacy: The land question, politics and constitutionalism in Kenya.” In Essays on land law: The reform debate in Kenya, ed. SmokinWanjala, 45-62. Nairobi: University of Nairobi, 2000.

__________. The Land Question in Kenya: Struggles, accumulation and changing politics in Kenya, 2006.

__________. “Land Redistribution in Kenya.” In Agricultural Land Redistribution: Towards greater consensus, eds. 87-118. Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2009.

Kenya Human Rights Commission. Killing the vote: State-sponsored violence and flawed elections in Kenya. Nairobi: KHRC, 1998.

Kitale, C. M. “Internal Displacement in the Kenyan Context: Challenges of justice, reconciliation and resettlement.” Unpublished thesis, International Institute of Social Studies, 2011.

Miguel, E. Ethnic Diversity, Social Sanction and Public Goods in Kenya. Berkeley: University of California, 2004.

Monette, Z. The Internally Displaced in Perspective. The Brookings CUNY Project on Internal Displacement Migration Policy Institute, 2002.

Pavanello, S., S. Elhawary and S. Pantuliano. Hidden and Exposed Urban Refugees in Nairobi; Kenya, HPG Working Paper. Humanitarian Policy Group. Oversees Development Institute, 2010.

Posner, D. Institutions and Ethnic Politics in Africa. Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Throup, D. “The Construction and Destruction of the Kenyatta State.” In The Political Economy of Kenya. ed. Schatzberg, M.G. 1987.

Young, C. Ethnicity and Politics in Africa. Boston: Boston University Press, 2002.

Widner, J. The Rise of a Party-State in Kenya: From harambee to nyayo! Berkeley: University of California, 1992.

Notes

1 Raila A. Odinga, “What Role Does Ethnicity Play in Africa’s Elective Politics?” Posted by African Press International on September 12, 2007.

2 For a well-articulated and detailed analysis of ethnic identities and how they are negotiated in Kenya, see Gabrielle Lynch (2011); on the politics of belonging, see Piet Konings and Francis B. Nyamnjoh (2003) and. Claire Médard (2007).

3 Kiprop Emmanuel, a resident of Rongai in Nakuru, claims to be an IDP because his father’s land located at Molo was appropriated by the Kenyatta government and given to one Mr. Thuku from Kiambu in 1965. He insists that land ownership in the Molo, Olenguruone and Elburgon regions are so controversial that the existing title deeds are either fake or they are possessed by people who neither bought nor originally owned these landed spaces.

4 On the relations between the various communities in the Rift Valley during the Kenyatta regime, see Roselind M. Achieng (2005).

5 I interviewed Karanja Njihia in Elburgon in 2009 when undertaking a research on the post-election violence.

6 On the Kenyan 2007 general elections and related violence, see Jérôme Lafargue (2007) and the Journal of Eastern African Studies 2, no. 2, May 2008.

7 The Kikuyu returnees were not welcome back after independence and they are not welcome today. Their original homelands are since occupied and title deeds given to new owners. Where were they to go after the 2007 PEV?

8 Prisca Kamungi (2013) gives a detailed account of the reasons why there were few Kalenjin IDPs in camps given by .

9 In the leaked Wikileaks Nairobi Cable No. 39 Sally Kosgey (an ethnic Kalenjin) had expressed doubt that Kikuyu voters in Central and Kalenjin voters in Rift Valley would be willing to set aside the violence suffered at each others hands to form a coalition in 2012.

10 This was a time when the two leaders were facing charges at the ICC for allegedly instigating the 2007 post election violence.

11 The major pact was done at Eldoret’s 64 stadium with Ruto and Uhuru mandated with leading the two ‘indicted’ communities.

12 “Jubilee Alliance Break-Up: What Happens Next?” By Guest Author | December 31, 2012.

13 A Kikuyu, Martha, was considered a spoiler for Uhuru who needed to garner all vote from the Kikuyu dominated regions.

14 See Mutahi Ngunyi and Adams Oloo disagree on the tyranny of numbers part 2. The interview was done by an NTV journalist who hosted the trend on 8 February 2013. He considered the numerical might of the two communities and concluded that there was to be a clear win if the two combined to vote one of their candidates; Uhuru or Ruto.

15 Many Kenyans register in and around their rural aboards.

16 It was not clear how many IDPs registered as voters.

17 Pipeline is an IDP camp created during the 2007 PEV near Nakuru town. It originally hosted close to 2,000 people majority of whom have seen been relocated to Subukia but about 560 people still live in the camp whose dilapidated tents have left living conditions in the camp unbearable.

18 News 24kenya on December 13, 2012 Rugut: BVR myths unfounded.

19 Interview with a woman identified as Nancy at the Pipeline Camp.

20 This group had been victims of the 1992 and 1997 elections which pitted the Kalenjin against ‘outsiders’ in the Rift Valley.

21 Interview number 17 on July 23, 2013.

22 www.un/womewatch/osagi/wps Chapter 5.

23 The Daily Nation June 25, 2013 reported that the IDPs nationwide were jittery over non-resettlement despite the ‘Uhuruto’ promise during the campaign period.

24 Interview with an elderly couple in Rongai, Nakuru.

25 Interview with a Kalenjin young man in Nakuru town. He claims that his family’s land was given to a Kikuyu family by Mzee Kenyatta in the late 1960s.

26 Kimari, an IDP at the Pipeline camp. Members of his family have since relocated to Subukia.

27 See Jean-François Bayart (2009); and Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz (1999).

28 The Constitution of Kenya revised edition 2010 published by the National Council for Law Reporting with the Authority of the Attorney General.

29 IDPs from the 2007 PEV were still complaining and protesting that about 1,740 IDPs from 20 camps were still not settled by the government. See The Standard Digital, March 6, 2014.

30 Informants noted that many of their grudges simply resurface during electioneering periods and are fueled by politicians who use ethnicity to whip up support.

31 For an in-depth analysis on the conditions of IDPs in camps and new homes, see Lynch (2011); Pavanello, Elhawary and Pantuliano (2010); and Kamungi (2009).

32 For a more detailed analysis of how politicization of ethnicity breeds ethnic favouritism, see Gagnon (1994/95); Miguel (2004); and Daniel Posner (2005).

Auteur

Lecturer in History at Kenyatta University.

© Africae, 2014

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

Acheter

Volume papier

amazon.fr
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search