Kenya: How do we make sense of hate crimes?

Kenya: How do we make sense of hate crimes?

by / Comments Off / 162 View / 29th September 2012

If there is one thing that guarantees to unify 85% of Kenyan Citizens, young old, working or not, whatever their tribe, (apparently 85% of the country is Christian) are the events in the church that night in Eldoret. Damian , an established IT consultant in Nairobi says “We struggle to take it in, this level of violence, it is an affront, awful”. The ultimate violation, a realisation that nothing is sacred in war: old people, children, parents, massacred in a place of worship. I listened, weeping, as I heard a Kenyan Nun describing, live on a terrible phone line for the World Service, the events around her in Eldoret. The chaotic ransacking of violence as an invading mob tried to break down the doors and windows. Trying to get into her orphanage as she huddled with her children and wards of care. The line went dead before the conclusion: I can only guess the outcome.

Now, nearly three years later, the media has focussed largely on the activities of the International Criminal Court, on the machinations the men on trial at the Hague for Murder, incitement to murder and hate broadcasting. Last month Pre-Trial Chamber II found reasonable grounds to believe that William Ruto, together with Kiprono Kosgey, are criminally responsible indirect co-perpetrators for the crimes against humanity of murder, forcible transfer of population and persecution. The prosecution has argued that Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Jomo, and once darling of the West, met with leaders of the outlawed Kikuyu-based Mungiki sect in order to organise retaliatory attacks in the Rift Valley towns of Nakuru and Naivasha, in response to the initial attacks on the Kikuyu community in the region.

In Kenya, a few academic articles look at the role of hate crimes and hate broadcasting, drawing parallels with Rwanda. The media here asks whether or not the violence was orchestrated, masterminded and funded, and by whom, and for how long. Much of this coverage misses the central point that Kenyans are concerned with. How will Kenyans process this information? Where does the responsibility lie to make sure it never happens again? Can civil society groups, elders, the media, commentators and educators supply the necessary emotional and intellectual parameters and wisdom to guide this discussion to a positive outcome?


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