Thursday, January 03, 2008

Don't let the dream die

The beauty of KenyaMy mother grew up in Kenya and it's also the first country I ever visited. So even before the world's media picked up on the violence I was awaiting the outcome of the Presidential election with wonder as to whether Mwai Kibaki would be re-elected or whether he'd become that rare thing - an African leader who has been voted out of office.

Let's dispel a few myths. Although my holiday coincided with the one major exception (the 1982 Kenyan coup d'état attempt) for nearly all its history Kenya has been a peaceful stable country. It has experienced strong economic growth and stood out as one of the success stories of Africa. Sure one can find individual incidents to fault it, but the same is true of practically every other country.

Which is why I look at the news about the current crisis in great sadness. It started as a close run election with the two main sides emerging from a recent breakdown in a political coalition. Such political contests are far from unique throughout the world.

But what has tipped things over the edge has been an election process that generates limited confidence. And this in turn has spawned bitter political violence that exposes the basic roots of the political divide in the country.

What's the solution? I honestly don't know. Something must be done to end the violence and restore confidence in the country's political process.

But what saddens me is the way some people seem to think that this is just proof that democracy can't work in Africa and that it'll all end in tribal violence; that a successful state isn't possible.

That's not a dream I'm prepared to give up on. That's not a dream anyone should give up on. Whatever it takes, Kenya must be helped. It can overcome these problems. It should not be written off because of them.

1 comment:

Manfarang said...

"nearly all its history Kenya has been a peaceful stable country"
The Mau Mau uprising?


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