Racism has been affirmed and strengthened by democracy. This morning Kenya is controlled by Kikuyus and their allied tribes, as it has been for 300 years. Fires still burn, several people have been shot, and Kenya’s non-Kikuyu cities are ghost towns. It could have been much worse.
I am supposed to guide in Kenya in a few months. Should I go? Yes. Why? Because it will be safe for my clients, because we will only travel into Kikuyu and allied lands. What about other places? Probably in a year. I’ve seen it before. The Kikuyus will be benevolent if not wholly fair, and the country will settle into an uncomfortable peace.
Watch Kenya. What is happening right now in Kenya could very well be what happens in America in 2020. At the time of this posting two hours remain before the polls close in Kenya’s rerun national election. So far the turnout seems to be around 25%. (The turnout in the August 8 election which was annulled by the Supreme Court was 80%.)
There’s widespread violence in the west of the country and in parts of Nairobi’s slums. The official announcement of winners could take a week. Incumbents and opposition alike know what the outcome will be: the rerun election will affirm the results of the original election. So 2 out of 3 citizens are not voting.
Democracy is alive and well in Kenya! Violence has already begun. Tear gas wafts through the city centers of Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa, the three largest cities. The main opposition party has told supporters to clear off the streets because continued police brutality has so far killed 33 protestors.
All this portends serious death and destruction starting about a week from tomorrow and continuing as it did almost exactly a decade ago for several months before slowly and painfully settling into another chapter of nervous peace, the country then more scarred than ever. Why can’t this remarkably educated, progressively developed country get it right? Tribalism.
Ultimately it’s a matter of whether the people in power are good or bad. Doesn’t really matter whether they won an election or ascended a throne, whether they’re an elected judge or an appointed one. They’re either good or bad.
But as multiple African countries show, today, there’s a lot of bad running democracies. Listen quick: I’m not saying authoritarian regimes are better than democracies. I’m just saying there can be just as much badness in democracy as in authoritarianism.
System 1. Candidates 0. That’s how I see the current Kenyan situation, characterized by the most juvenile behavior of the presidential candidates imaginable atop a system that is working overtime for fairness.
Perhaps this is true worldwide. Perhaps when touched by the power bestowed on a poor man by its great society, untold richest tempt his psyche. This is precisely the case in Kenya, where both presidential candidates are acting like bulldogs not potential leaders.
Diplomats and experts alike are hailing Kenya’s Supreme Court for its decision Friday annulling the national elections as proof that this dynamic emerging nation has firmly sided on the rule of law.
I see it differently: another example that democracy is growing self-destructive. With opposition candidates already declining to take part in the announced election rerun, the chances for widespread violence and major political disruption are now greater than ever.
The presidents of Tanzania and the United States are blood brothers in their defiance of law. I don’t think Tanzania and the U.S. are organically connected politically, but clearly both are being effected by social waves of discontent in the same way.
In both Tanzania and the U.S., two so different societies half-way round the world from one another, both leaders came to power democratically with support from people who now think it’s fine to undermine democracy.
Kenya’s August 8 national election will test democracy as never before, anywhere in the world. Kenya’s incredible tribalism and its new found intellectualism are being force-blended into a modern world that just so happens at this very moment in human history to be questioning the very worth of democracy.
I think it will make it. Others aren’t so sure.
I will be in Nairobi for its next election on August 8. According to the popular global business group, Quartz, Kenya’s is one of four elections this year that will determine world-wide the direction of democracy.
Worldwide? How on earth will Kenya’s election effect US business, much less its own political fabric?
I’m in Kenya and you can’t walk out your door without feeling the buzz! Keep your eyes squarely here: It all happens on August 8. A national election that increasingly looks like it will be a major upset.
Kenyans have always been incredibly open people, and they are brimming over with optimism about this election! It’s not about their candidate. It’s what they think is about to happen:
Populism begets dictatorship. Examine Africa to understand our era’s dramatic moves towards authoritarianism.
The weekend’s referendum in Turkey is at center stage. But it’s to the faster developing, least developed and most desperate societies in Africa that you should turn your attention. Strong men are reappearing and stronger than ever, precisely because they achieve their power using the ballot box.
Africa’s a bit unsettled. Europe’s more unsettled than ever.
The world is connected by a million strings. They’re best seen from afar, because up close they’re indistinguishable from the humdrum of everyday life. The ones I watch are in Africa:
Growing protests turn really violent in the DR-Congo. The Gambian president who conceded defeat in an election now says only God can tell him to step down. The Ugandan military is flexing its arms like it did under Amin.
What’s happening and is it coming to America?
Why was Anna Galland so happy last night? Who will put peerless pen to my personal petulance? I found him. In South Africa.
Trump is “Nazi sludge…trapped in a Twitter feedback loop as a gift for a riled-up white electorate who had seen the ass-end of globalisation.”
The trouble with authoritarian rulers is that their authority becomes more important than themselves.
Adam Barrow defeated Yahya Jammeh last week in The Gambia and unleashed days of celebrations in the capital of Banjul. Twenty-two years begun with a violent coup seemed to end happily when Jammeh called Barrow and graciously conceded. Seemed like the old man just had had enough.
But it just wasn’t that easy.
Tanzania has begun issuing new licenses for radio stations, but it’s forbid broadcasting in local languages.
The decision is just one more technique occuring worldwide as authorities grapple with fake news. In Tanzania anyway, fake news is presumed harder to propagate in English or Kiswahili, the country’s two official languages. Now why would that be?