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"No Country for Old Hatreds": Wainaina on Kenya

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TEDGlobal 2007 speaker Binyavanga Wainaina has an opinion piece in today’s New York Times, “No Country for Old Hatreds,” that offers some backstory on the violent post-election crisis in Kenya. It’s not about “ancient feuds,” as some pundits have glibly summed it up. As he points out:

Five years ago, we voted for a broad and nationally representative government. Inside this vehicle were the country’s major tribes: the Luo, the Luhya, the Kikuyu, many Kalenjin — all the people now killing one another.

Rather, the violence has its roots in modern intergovernmental squabbling, in which these tribes were used as chess pieces. The nation of Kenya, Wainaina reminds us, is only 40 years old — and it was founded on the hope that a country of tribes could develop a shared national identity. He writes:

Yet all is not lost. Nations are built on crises like this. If there is such a thing as Kenya, it should be gathering energy right now.

Photo Credit: Andrew Heavens: MeskelSquare.com, TEDGlobal 2007