Kenyan Political Violence: A Quick Trip to the Morgue

The image “https://i2.wp.com/graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/images/photo/2008/01/03/20080103KENYA/21348899.JPG” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Tiananmen-style “lone figure confronting the Machine” photo from the NYT today from Nairobi.

… human rights abuses raised the threat of international sanctions at a much lower threshold than during the cold war. Rulers in Kenya and Rwanda responded by privatizing state violence. Privatized repression allowed them to neutralize widespread challenges, while distancing themselves from political violence to minimize friction with aid donors. — –Brown, Stephen, “Understanding Political Violence: Kenya and Zimbabwe in Comparative Perspective” (Conference Papers — International Studies Association, 2007)

In addition to tracing the [Mungiki] movement’s religious and ideological roots, the article shows how ‘informal repression’ or quasilegitimization of sectarian violence for political ends by the state, has transformed a ‘moral ethnic’ movement into a ‘politically tribal’ one. Kagwanja, Peter Mwangi, “FACING MOUNT KENYA OR FACING MECCA? THE MUNGIKI, ETHNIC VIOLENCE AND THE POLITICS OF THE MOI SUCCESSION IN KENYA, 1987-2002” (African Affairs, Vol. 102, No. 406, Jan. 2003)

African scholars, like Kagwanja, risk much when they conceptualise movements like Mungiki from this deeply flawed perspective whose main emphasis is war, chaos, anarchy and violence; these being aspects that Ellis and associates link with the traditional. The article identifies the centring of western self-interest as the covert aim of such a pessimistic reading of African realities even when these interests are pretentiously cast as empathetic to Africans. –Godwin Rapando Murunga, “Mungiki and the Re-traditionalisation of Society Argument: A Quest for Recognition?” (CODESRIA Bulletin, Nos 3 & 4, 2006 Page 28)

How credible are claims that Kenyan police and political leaders are complicit in the “privatization of political violence” during the current election cycle? See

Results of a quick run through the morgue — the Academic Search Premier database at the Brooklyn Public Library, accessed this morning from São Paulo, Brazil. Search string: “Kenya +political violence.” Much more searching to do in building of the back-story file.

Always check the morgue before issuing Sullivan-style punditry.

Murder most foul?
Journal: Economist
Pub.: 2007-11-10
Volume: 385
Issue: 8554
Pages: 58(0)
ISSN: 00130613
Subject: ETHNOLOGY — Kenya; KIKUYU (African people); POLITICAL violence; KENYA — Politics & government — 2002-; KENYA
Description: Language : English AN : 27504832 The article reports on a spate of execution-style killings in Nairobi, Kenya, of members of the Mungiki sect, a violent gang of the Kikuyu ethnic group. A human rights commission reports the killings were ordered by the government’s interior ministry, a charge denied by Hussein Ali, head of the police.

Understanding Political Violence: Kenya and Zimbabwe in Comparative Perspective.
Author: Brown, Stephen
Journal: Conference Papers — International Studies Association
Pub.: 2007
Pages: 1(0)
Description: Language : English AN : 26960559 Facile assumptions are often made about the release of “pent-up antagonisms” in times of political liberalization in Africa. The phenomenon of “transition violence”, however, is often best understood as regime resistance to pluralism and democratization. In Kenya and Zimbabwe, the political violence that has accompanied democratization efforts shows great continuity with earlier repression during single-party rule. Changes in the international environment, however, increased the price of overt authoritarianism. In Kenya, the “ethnic clashes” (mainly 1990-1998) were essentially instances of state-sponsored repression of ethnic groups that generally supported multipartyism and opposition parties, but lived in pro-government areas. The regime had long used repression to contain dissent when cooptation has failed. However, increased scrutiny by international actors at the end of the Cold War forced the state to take an arm’s length and sponsor other actors (such as “tribal warriors”) to carry out the violence. In Zimbabwe, the latest phase of political violence — begun in 2000 with farm seizures, followed by attacks of farm workers, demolitions of urban slums, and youth gangs’ attacks on opposition parties — follows a logic that was established at the time of independence, if not before. The ruling party has alternated between co-opting and repressing its opponents. In recent years, violence has been carried out by “private” actors, such as so-called war veterans, and can appear superficially apolitical, but it is still best analyzed as a means for the ruling party to remain in power, while still presenting itself to the rest of Africa — if not the West — as a fostering a pluralist system. ..PAT.-Unpublished Manuscript

David M. Anderson, “Vigilantes, violence and the politics of public order in Kenya,” African Affairs 101:531-555 (2002) (abstract):

This article examines recent violence in Nairobi in the contextof increased vigilante activity throughout Kenya, and relatesthis to the broader political context of violence in the run-up to the next general election, which is expected to take place before the end of 2002. The starting point for the analysis is the conflict between two rival vigilante groups in Nairobi’s Kariobangi North estate, Mungiki and the Taliban. It is argued that existing scholarly interpretations of Mungiki need to be reassessed in view of recent violent and criminal activities linked to the movement, and in light of the shifting political position of its leaders and the ethnocentric posture they have adopted. The increasing prevalence of vigilante groups in the city is shown to be partly a reflection of growing criminal activities, especially extortion, and partly the consequence of struggles for political control in the city, where the ruling party KANU has only slender support. The ‘New Vigilantes’ of Nairobi exploit urban insecurity for materialist gain, but they have also merged with the Majeshi la Wazee (‘Armies of the Elders’) that have long been deployed to ‘protect’ the interests of their political clients. In this context, heightening urban violence is seen to be both criminal and political in character, and it is argued that it is likely that vigilante groups will again be used as political instruments in the electoral struggle for the city.

Ouko’s Death Report.
Journal: Africa Research Bulletin: Political, Social & Cultural Series
Pub.: 2005-03
Volume: 42
Issue: 3
Pages: 16151(0)
ISSN: 00019844
Subject: ASSASSINATION; POLITICAL violence; KENYA; MOI, Daniel Arap; OUKO, Robert
Description: Language : English AN : 17103561 Reports on update on the investigation on the death of former Kenyan Foreign Minister Robert Ouko. Former top officials in ex-President Daniel Moi’s government implicated in the case; Findings of the Parliamentary Select Committee investigating the case.

Donor-Induced Democratization and Privatization of State Violence in Kenya and Rwanda.
Author: Roessler, Philip G.
Journal: Comparative Politics
Pub.: 2005-01
Volume: 37
Issue: 2
Pages: 207(21)
ISSN: 00104159
Subject: POLITICAL science; PRIVATIZATION; VIOLENCE; DEMOCRATIZATION; KENYA; RWANDA
Description: Language : English AN : 15915272 African regimes’ repressive strategies changed during the post-1989 wave of democratization. Conventional methods of coercion–targeting of the opposition by the official security forces–were insufficient and costly in multiparty regimes. Democratization enfranchised the opposition and broadened the range of political challengers to include rural constituencies and entire ethnic groups. Furthermore, human rights abuses raised the threat of international sanctions at a much lower threshold than during the cold war. Rulers in Kenya and Rwanda responded by privatizing state violence. Privatized repression allowed them to neutralize widespread challenges, while distancing themselves from political violence to minimize friction with aid donors.

Scandals then and now.
Journal: Economist
Pub.: 2004-07-10
Volume: 372
Issue: 8383
Pages: 42(0)
ISSN: 00130613
Subject: BANKS & banking, Central; BRIBERY; MISCONDUCT in office; POLITICAL corruption; POLITICAL ethics; KENYA — Politics & government — 2002-; KENYA; MOI, Daniel Arap; KIBAKI, Mwai
Description: Language : English AN : 13699588 This article discusses corruption in Kenya’s reformist government. The protesters threw stones and set fire to tyres. It was the worst week of political violence since Mwai Kibaki took over as president of Kenya from the reviled Daniel arap Moi 18 months ago. In a survey for Transparency International, an anti-corruption watchdog, Kenyans reported that they were asked for bribes during only 40% of encounters with officials, down from 65% under Mr Moi. Suffering from ill health, Mr Kibaki has allowed himself to be swayed by a cabal of controversial politicians from his Kikuyu tribe, Kenya’s largest. It was at its urging, allegedly, that rallies this week protesting against the slow pace of reform were banned, a tactic common in the Moi years, as was the police’s brutality against the demonstrators.

FACING MOUNT KENYA OR FACING MECCA? THE MUNGIKI, ETHNIC VIOLENCE AND THE POLITICS OF THE MOI SUCCESSION IN KENYA, 1987-2002.
Author: Kagwanja, Peter Mwangi
Journal: African Affairs
Pub.: 2003-01
Volume: 102
Issue: 406
Pages: 25(25)
ISSN: 00019909
Subject: PLURALISM (Social sciences); POLITICAL crimes & offenses; KENYA — Politics & government
Description: Language : English AN : 9135449 Kenya’s return to pluralist politics in the early 1990s saw the eruption of political violence that has since laid siege to human rights and democracy. This article discusses the Mungiki movement which, like the Mau Mau movement that waged armed struggle against the British in the 1950s, has sprouted among the Kikuyu. It examines Mungiki within the broader theoretical context of competitive electoral politics and political violence in contemporary Kenya. In addition to tracing the movement’s religious and ideological roots, the article shows how ‘informal repression’ or quasilegitimization of sectarian violence for political ends by the state, has transformed a ‘moral ethnic’ movement into a ‘politically tribal’ one. As a contribution to the academic debate on Mungiki, the article draws on the rich public debate in Kenya and the author’s close study of the movement in 2001-2.

Pilfering the public: The problem of land grabbing in contemporary Kenya.
Author: Klopp, Jacqueline M.
Journal: Africa Today
Pub.: 2000-01
Volume: 47
Issue: 1
Pages: 6(21)
ISSN: 00019887
Subject: LAND use; POLITICAL corruption; POLITICAL violence; PRIVATIZATION; KENYA
Description: Language : English AN : 3168055 Focuses on land grabbing through irregular privatization of public lands by the government in Kenya. Implication of political liberalization for land-grabbing; Land grabbing as a patronage resource and instrument to maintain control by public officials; Evidence of political corruption and violence by the practice of public land privatization.

Political violence taking a toll on Kenya tourism.
Author: McKinley, James C.
Journal: New York Times
Pub.: 1997-08-31
Volume: 146
Issue: 50901
Pages: 3
ISSN: 03624331
Subject: TOURISM; VIOLENCE; KENYA; MOMBASA (Kenya)
Description: Language : English AN : 9709232894 Looks at the affects of the violence around the port city of Mombasa, on Kenya’s tourist industry. How many lives were claimed since August 13, 1997; Hundreds of trips cancelled by Europeans; Detailed information on the violence.

Kenya leader steps back from strife.
Journal: New York Times
Pub.: 1997-07-17
Volume: 146
Issue: 50856
Pages: A9
ISSN: 03624331
Subject: POLITICAL science; KENYA — Politics & government; MOI, Daniel Arap
Description: Language : English AN : 9708112938 Reports that on July 16th, 1997, Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi said that his government would grant permits for opposition rallies. Reason for his decision; High level of political violence in Kenya; Calls in Kenya for constitutional reform.

Crackdown bleeds Kenya’s democracy movement, killing 7.
Author: McKinley, James C.
Journal: New York Times
Pub.: 1997-07-08
Volume: 146
Issue: 50847
Pages: A3
ISSN: 03624331
Subject: POLITICAL crimes & offenses; KENYA
Description: Language : English AN : 9708123876 Reveals that on July 7th, 1997, riot policemen in Nairobi, Kenya, crushed pro-democracy rallies of political violence which resulted in the death of approximately seven persons and injuries to twelve others. When the last political violence attack was recorded; Damages caused as a result of the attack; Types of measures which were taken by police to control attacks; What influenced the violent outbreak.

Crackdown bleeds Kenya’s hopes for democracy.
Author: McKinley Jr., James C.
Journal: New York Times
Pub.: 1997-07-08
Volume: 146
Issue: 50847
Pages: A1
ISSN: 03624331
Subject: RIOTS; KENYA — Politics & government; KENYA; MOI, Daniel Arap
Description: Language : English AN : 9707095617 Reports that riot policemen crushed pro-democracy rallies across Kenya on July 7, 1997, killing at least seven people and wounding dozens of others. The violence as the worst political violence in Kenya since 1991; The protests and riots as a major embarrassment to President Daniel arap Moi; Opposition leaders vowing to press for constitutional reforms; Details of the violence.

Staying the course?
Journal: World Press Review
Pub.: 1993-02
Volume: 40
Issue: 2
Pages: 30(0)
ISSN: 01958895
Subject: POLITICAL science; KENYA — Politics & government
Description: Language : English AN : 9302020726 Reports that although a divided opposition failed to dislodge Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi in the recent election, it may be building a stronger future in a new multi-party state. Comments that Africa editor Richard Drowden made in the daily `Independent’ of London; Number of people that died in political violence last year; More.

Moi wins–but does Kenya lose?
Journal: Newsweek
Pub.: 1993-01-11
Volume: 121
Issue: 2
Pages: 44(0)
ISSN: 00289604
Subject: MOI, Daniel Arap
Description: Language : English AN : 9301080459 States that Kenya’s President Daniel arap Moi won re-election last week in the first multiparty contest in 26 years. His fueling of tribal rivalries helped split the opposition; Call for a new vote; Months of political violence.

Lion’s den.
Journal: Economist
Pub.: 1990-07-14
Volume: 316
Issue: 7663
Pages: 42(2)
ISSN: 00130613
Subject: DEMONSTRATIONS; POLITICAL violence; POLITICS, Practical; KENYA — Politics & government — 1978-; KENYA
Description: Language : English AN : 9008270479 The article presents information on the political conditions in Kenya in 1990. On July 7, violence spread from a political rally in Nairobi, Kenya, which the government tried to subdue with the help of the police. The riot had reached other towns within two days and scattered fighting continued even after the security forces restored peace.

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