Kenyans for Hillary? Even U.S. Election Seen Through Tribal Eyes

Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations have documented evidence that much of the violence in the Rift Valley was organized and premeditated. Flyers are emerging that warned Kikuyus to "get out of Kalenjin land," and there are reports of text messages of hate, ordering violence against Kikuyus in the region, and meetings called by local leaders and opposition politicians on how and where to target Kikuyus.

In fact, the use of tribal gangs or militias by politicians, particularly during elections, is not new to Kenya, says Dan Juma, acting director of Kenya's Human Rights Commission.

"Since independence, it has always been, once an elite is in power, then the immediate receptacle, and the beneficiaries of that power and resources, are normally the tribes and their ethnic communities," said Juma.

Malcolm X once said about oppression, "The chickens come home to roost."

The tribalism exploited by Kenya's leaders throughout history — the militias, the propaganda — have exploded in the leaders' faces and left the country spinning out of control. Endless tales of hacking next door neighbors with machetes, of mobs chasing innocent people of different tribes into churches and homes, and burning them alive, and clashes using poisoned bows and arrows, are almost daily headlines.

Even this reporter has to be careful. Though I am black American, I am constantly mistaken for a Kikuyu. I have to always wear press credentials (which have been checked by rioters before), and scream that I am American, with my accent, to get people to believe me. I don't even say "asante sana" — "thank you" in Swahili, the national language of Kenya — for fear someone will mistake me as being Kenyan from the "wrong" tribe.

"The political crisis has unleashed historic grievances that will need to be addressed," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged on Friday, while lending his hand to the mediation talks being conducted by his predecessor Kofi Annan, in Nairobi.

But so far, addressing those grievances has consisted primarily of leaders of both sides, accusing each other of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

They have agreed to come up with a plan to end the violence within the next two weeks, but there are daily squabbles in the mediation. On Monday, the opposition objected to a statement by Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki, that the opposition should challenge the results of the elections in court, and the government rejected the lead mediator chosen by Annan, because they deemed him as having business dealings with Odinga, a charge both deny.

And while they continue mediation, hundreds of thousands of Kenyans have lost their homes, their possessions, and some, their lives. As Nancy Wanjeri, a displaced Kikuyu, whose husband was savagely attacked by her neighbors before their home was burned down, said, she wishes all Kenyans could see this as a political problem, instead of by tribe.

Wanjeri and her family were from the Mathare slum, living as poor as the Luo neighbors who attacked them. "I am not Kibaki, I don't even know Kibaki," she said in frustration. "You don't know Raila. Why are you fighting me? We're all Kenyan."

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