"No Country for Old Hatreds": Wainaina on Kenya

Posted by: Tedstaff


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

Comments (1)

  • Bill BRE commented on Jan 15 2008

    You may want to point your readers to the Kwani Trust blog as it is updated more often than the website you link to above. Lot’s of new posts and editiorials about the unfolding crisis and aftermath in Kenya. Thanks for the tip about Binyavanga Wainaina being featured in a TEDTalk at the TED Global Conference 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania. Didn’t realize he was there.

    Kwani Blog URL -