2008 February 18 Monday
Kenya: All We Are Saying Is Give War A Chance

Kenya is populated by the anti-John Lennon. All we are saying is give war a chance.

AS THE road approaches Kisumu, Kenya's third-biggest city and capital of the Luos, the country's third-biggest but angriest ethnic group, it becomes littered with rubble and burnt vehicles. A man beats at a smouldering ambulance's number-plate with his machete. “See,” he explains, “this belongs to the government of Kenya.” Mobs cry out for their fellow Luo, Raila Odinga, to be made president of Kenya. They plead for guns. An earnest man pushes to the front of one mob. “What we are saying is give violence a second chance.”

These guys are determined to rehabilitate the reputation of violence as a respectable way to fix what ails a society.

In Kenya getting stoned on reefer gets you riled up and ready to literally stone members of the opposing tribe.

The youths from his Luo ethnic group who burned buildings in Kisumu in the wake of the election say they will accept little in the way of compromise. The stones in the road – marking the spot where one their friends was shot by riot police – could quickly become missiles.

"We voted for a president, not a prime minister," says one. "The least we can accept is an interim government with a revote in six months."

The young men, who spend their days drinking or smoking bhang, the local name for marijuana, are typical of the dispossessed from whom Odinga draws much of his support.

What do these guys see when they take LSD? Satan?

I figure the Luo see no need to compromise because a member of their tribe is front runner to win the Presidency of the United States. They probably figure Barack Obama will pull US troops out of Iraq in order to send them to Kenya to fight against the Kikuyu tribe.

Obama's Kenyan family hail from the Luo tribe of opposition leader Raila Odinga, who accuses Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki of stealing re-election in a poll that has triggered ethnic bloodshed, especially between the Luo and Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe.

The mostly West African blacks in the US who are voting about 80% in favor of a fellow African probably don't realize they are voting for a member of an East African ethnic group that is currently in rebellion against the government of Kenya. The Luo know. But African Americans are voting with loyalty that extends over a larger scaled definition of an ethnic group. They are still very much voting on blood though.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 February 18 08:36 PM  Ethnic Conflict

Dragon Horse said at February 19, 2008 6:38 AM:

"The mostly West African blacks in the US who are voting about 80% in favor of a fellow African probably don't realize they are voting for a member of an East African ethnic group that is currently in rebellion against the government of Kenya. The Luo know. But African Americans are voting with loyalty that extends over a larger scaled definition of an ethnic group. They are still very much voting on blood though."


Two different things.

Luo are voting on clan/tribal ties in hope of kick backs...because that is how tribal politics works. When resources are scares it is a zero sum game. People adhere to tribe because it works. When the central government is weak and resources are scares you can't rely on anything but those you trust and those you trust are those you typically have relations with.

Just like the bamboo network of Chinese in Southeast Asia. Chinese do business with Chinese first and if they can they do business with Chinese who speak their dialect or share their the same clan (this is most common in people of Southern Chinese ancestry).

African Americans and Obama are different. Most people know Obama's father is from Kenya. There was a huge argument int the African American community last year (before the primaries) was Obama "black enough" not meaning he was "white" but meaning was he of "African American culture' which is basically saying "he might be our race, but not our ethnicity" as his father did not descend from slaves brought her from West Africa. Many African American wrote about this, including Stanley Crouch (newspaper syndication) and Debra Dickerson (Salon Mag).

Reality is until South Carolina Hillary Clinton had the majority of support of black politicians and the black masses. Her race bating and code talk coming out of her campaign made the black democratic masses turn on her and Slick Willy. She did that. If blacks were just voting on race alone then Al Sharpton would have beat John Edwards in South Carolina 4 years ago. He did not. Most blacks voted for John Edwards.

Blacks are not voting for "blood" as much as their belief that if a black man (any black man, directly ethnically related to them or not) can make it to the highest executive office then that will greatly help change stereotypes and open doors for them.

If you are from a bunch of Irishmen who live in a country where you are 12% of the population and you have been historically oppressed although you have been in the country since its founding a foreign black person (think of Giuliani) who has 4 grandparents born in a foreign country can come and be seen a viable candidate for the highest office in the land but your family who has been here for almost 400 years can not...and someone who looks something like you (to the point where the average person on the street can't tell the difference) lets say someone who is part Russian comes and gets in the same position as Obama I bet you and your Irish fellows will back him.

It is that simple. That is not "blood" necessarily, it is pragmatism.

Randall Parker said at February 19, 2008 6:41 PM:

Dragon Horse,

But why is the central government of Kenya weak in the first place? Tribal loyalties.

Hillary lost black support once a substantial number of whites voted for Obama and Obama looked like he might win. Why waste your votes on a loser? If South Carolina had been the first primary I bet Obama wouldn't have done as well in South Carolina as he did.

Dragon Horse said at February 19, 2008 6:53 PM:


You said nothing I disagree with above, but blacks don't vote for Obama for a sense of "tribal loyalty" I've talked to many blacks about Obama. The idea is not "get a brother" in the white house. Typically the rational most expressed (at least by the blacks I know) is what it "means", and how it will effect the way blacks are seen, how it will inspire their children, how they would finally feel really part of and accepted in America. Granted, probably 90% of these blacks I talk of are college educated so they are more likely to think of more abstract concerns. They typically make a good salary and have stable jobs so are not looking for "hand outs" etc.

This is far different from Kenya which is basically...Luo people know that when they get one of their own in office, he will owe his extended family, clan, and through them tribe positions of power and kick backs. I don't believe most black Americans think that way about Obama. The only black people I have heard speak like that about Obama are some weirdos on black leftist political website, but most afrocentric types and hard core black nationalist (i.e. Malcolm X types) believe Obama is a sellout, fraud, pawn, meant to confuse black people, etc. Obama won't even meet with people like Al Sharpton, Tavis Smiley, or Cornell West. You can definitely forget about the Nation of Islam, etc. All of these people are already his enemies, exactly because he won't kowtow to them and address their issues of "institutional racism" etc.

As far as Kenya it will take a long time. Europe went through this and so did countries like Japan and to some extend China.

In modern times this is no longer allowed, actually that is only since WWII, before WWII and especially before WWI, genocide was common in warfare.

The only reason England, Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, and parts of Switzerland are considered different nations with different nationalities is due to the fact different Germanic tribes split off at different times and carved out domains through warfare and forced other people to submit to them.

The Romans were quite good at genocide when they felt the barbarians would not be suppressed or tried to rebell too much.

In the end modern Germany and Italy was united not due to war and I know in France, Germany, and Italy at different times dialects were suppressed.

Japan did the same thing, oppressing and absorbing or ethnically cleansing none "Japanese" ethnicities in Southern Kyushu, Hokkaido, and Northern Honshu. The Ainu did not give up there land willingly, neither did the Eimishi.

The Native Americans definitely did not.

I often think the best thing you can do for some nations, especially in Africa is to totally fund one side and let them annihilates or oppress the other side and force them to culturally assimilate. At one time there were many tribes in Europe that do not exist anymore and most of them did not go out of existence voluntarily.

Kenya will not be allowed to go through this process. Hell even in Europe, Europeans can't get along with two ethnic groups (Scots/English, Albanians/Serbs, separatist in Spain, Belgians, Chechens in Russia), etc. It is amazing to me nations line Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia (each with over a dozen and with a weak rule of law and limited resources can even achieve any government higher than Somalia). In this way they have done something (although far from perfect) Europe could not do without violence.

Dragon Horse said at February 19, 2008 7:15 PM:


Blue collar whites in Wisconsin just voted for Obama. Maybe they want some handouts too...farm aid perhaps? Tax breaks? They definitely didn't want Hillary. :-)


It might be too early, but you might have to get used to saying President Barack Hussein Obama, or maybe you will relocate to Canada. :-) hehe

Randall Parker said at February 20, 2008 6:29 PM:

Dragon Horse,

Getting a half-black man with a degree from Harvard elected President will not make whites feel any less fear when blacks move into the neighborhood or they see some black youths in a dark alley at night or approaching them in a store parking lot. The fear will still be there just as strong as ever as long as the black crime rate remains several times higher than the white crime rate.

The symbolic power of Presidents is overrated.

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