Out of the ashes…………..
****I was listening to BBC’s breakfast show, “Today” on Friday morning. There were interviews with various pundits and the UK foreign affairs minister. The show ended with a brief interview with a woman resident of on Kiberia settlement in Nairobi. The last question she was asked was whether the violence was “tribal”. It was as if the whole discussion, the past 5 weeks was reduced to this one question – the answer we all knew they (BBC and rest of the Western media) wanted was to hear that yes this is Africa and it must be “tirbal”. I cannot remember the content of the rest of the interviews – just the last word “tribal” left hanging in the air. A word signifying the other, those people. A word that feeds into the racism and notions of Africa constructed through colonialism. Firoze Manji, editor of Pambazuka News states it clearly when he writes
To the international community and media, we say that you need to first and foremost understand that massacres against the Gikuyu, the Luo, the Kalenjin and others are politically motivated and pre-meditated acts of violence and terror. We have to name the problem correctly if we are to counter it. Calling the violence ‘tribal clashes’ only lends credibility to the genocadaires and gives their propaganda mileage. It sends the message to the aggrieved on all sides that there will be, and can be, no justice. It only strengthens the hands those who want to stir ethnic hatred for political ends.
The day started with residents of Kibera setting up burning barricades to block police and chanting political slogans, singing and dancing. Then the crowd decided to head to the edge of town to loot the supermarket at which point they were met with 5 large trucks full of police. A long stand off ensued as residents threw rocks and police sent tear gas and opened fire on the protesters. After a few hours, police went in en masse and performed door to door raids, pulling people out of their homes, beating them and breaking down doors. They fired live ammunition in the streets and terrorized men and women on their way home from work. By 6 p.m. all was quiet and three were on their way to hospital with gunshot wounds. A third day of protests is scheduled for tomorrow.
K’s post contains an appropriate level of cynicism about donating, about doing and about what happens to the perpetrators of violence when this is over.
Germany”, my Austrian landlord told me today, “is a country where ppl aren’t directly helping each other. Only through anonymous donations…upon which they will receive a (tax exemption) receipt.” Hmmmm. I know many other cases where this assumption doesnt apply to – but coming back to Germany, I am reminded of this issue ppl had after WW2 when the following generation asked the same questions: what did YOU do to prevent this? Really nothing?
Fast forward in 2008+. Let’s hope that moods will have settled a bit by then and that business is “back to usual”. What will happen to those who did crimes? Will they be able to live with this guilt? Or will they come up with the infamous “i was obsessed with daemons” phrase?
On a happier note, AfriGadget announces a revamped site and is calling for contributors from across the continent to report on local innovations and alternative technologies. Once again an excellent idea from this great foursome.
We’re intent on getting more AfriGadget contributors from all over Africa. Part of that plan is to find potential editors and set them up with a mobile phone with which to take pictures and do interviews. If you know someone that would make a good fit, let me know.
Finally Kenyan music blogger Steve Ntwiga posts the 4th in his “smorgasbord” series – more amazing classics in his down memory lane music feast. Thanks we need this.