Close

Donate today to keep Global Voices strong!

Our global community of volunteers work hard every day to bring you the world's underreported stories -- but we can't do it without your help. Support our editors, technology, and advocacy campaigns with a donation to Global Voices!

Donate now

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Kenya: Do not doubt the power of the Internet in Africa

Has technology, particularly citizen media, played any positive role in covering the the crisis in Kenya? This is what White African wrote about the role of technology in the crisis:

If anyone doubts the power of the internet in Africa, they need to look no further than what is happening in Kenya right now…As of yesterday there was a media blackout. The only way to get any up-to-date news for the past 24-48 hours has been through the blogosphere (like Kenyan Pundit, Thinker’s Room, Mentalacrobatics), Skype and Kenyan populated forums (like Mashada). The traditional media has been shut out and shut down for all intents and purposes.

If you visit Kenyan blogs aggregators, KenyaUnlimited and Mashada, you will see the point White Africa is trying to make. Below is a round-up of conversations, information and news from Kenyan citizen journalists blogging about this unfortunate political and social crisis.

Blogger Panda Shuka describes the situation:

People are being burnt alive. Homes are being torched in daylight. Shops are closed. TV and Radio have been in a blackout. Kisumu City has been shut down by KPLC, no one can access Electricity. Tomatoes are going for 20/= a single one in my estate. Eggs are 15/= for a single one. Buses are charging 100/= for my usual 20/= journey. My brother and sister have moved away from our upcountry home because they are scared. Mum and dad are staying with policemen in the house. My friends are asking for airtime in kakamega and Kisumu. 9 people were slaughtered near my upcountry home…. and their cows taken! Women are being raped. Children have no food. What the hell is going on?

Latest from Kenyan Pundit:

Not much to report as yet.
- The president has called a meeting of all MPs at State House at 3:00 pm
- For those who are asking about a military intervention or the Karamajong militia in Eldoret – I have been unable to confirm those stories.

According to Kenyan Pundit, his life was under threat:

I do have it from reliable sources within the diplomatic community that Kivuitu’s life was threatened leaving him with no choice. There are also claims that Kibaki is under siege by his cronies and has no control over the situation.
- Been watching footage of the situation in Eldoret and keep wondering where the police, military are? You can’t get access to city mortuary because there are like 60 guys guarding it, but vigilantes have set up 30 roadblocks on the Eldoret road – what the hell is going on?

Red Cross Kenya is asking for donations:

- How to help? Red Cross Kenya is asking for donations of food, blankets, and blood.

The chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya, Samuel Kivuitu, has admitted to announcing the results under pressure:

Kivuitu admits to acting under pressure. The story was apparently up on the Standard website, but is no longer available there (haven’t verified this) [edit - article available on the standard here, and on Youtube here]. Just in case, save the text somewhere. How was he compromised? Why couldn’t he have resigned? Why didn’t he just let them collect the certificate by force? When he was cracking jokes at the swearing in ceremony he certainly did not look like he was surprised or acting under duress. This sounds like some serious backsliding of a man with a guilty conscience to me – he did not, for whatever reason, anticipate the magnitude of his actions or he was paid to throw this thing…who the hell knows, but this change of heart will not absolve him from the fact that he (along with other so-called leaders) abdicated his duties and has the blood of thousands of innocent Kenyans on his hands.

The conflict, which was initially described as Kikuyu vs. Luo has turned into something else:

For now it is critical to get the word out about the situation in Eldoret and Burnt Forest. This is in the aftermath of the church burning. Reports of armed men going into the forest coming through from various sources. The conflict is more than just Kikuyu-Luo – has – widened into something that I don’t even know how to describe.

Disturbing reports from Kenyan Pundit readers:

From a KP reader:
“Approximately 40-50K people are holded up at the compounds of ST. PATRICKS CATHOLIC CHURCH and ARNESENS HIGH SCHOOLl, both in Burnt Forest. There is no running water, food and ELECTRICITY has been cut. THIS MEANS THAT PEOPLE CANNOT RECHARGE THIER CELL PHONES and soon we’ll not be able to contact them. Also, due to the chaos/anarchy in these compounds, means that people, especially women are not any safer than if they were out in the chaos. There has been reports of rapes and molestations. I’ve also heard that the Eldoret highway has been closed by thugs an d that there is no transportion, hence people cannot leave this area. My family in that area feels very helpless and we can only ask that we spread the world and try and get some security in the area.”
Other (unverified) news from KP readers:
- Military set to take over tomorrow.
- Forced circumcisions in Buru Buru area. About 20 so far. 5 people have bled to death as a result.

Good job Al Jazeera:

I really really have to commend Al Jazeera for their coverage of this situation. I hope someone picks this up as a story about alternative media and coverage of Africa, and a story about Al Jazeera is redefining GLOBAL coverage. They are millions of steps ahead of CNN and BBC with less resources. From a good source, I hear that they are posting stories directly to Youtube so please check there for new stories as well.

Gathara writes, Who cares?:

Q: What happens when an unstoppable demagogue meets with an immovable election thief?
A: Kenyans die!

“Kibaki will not survive this,” writes Joseph Karoki:

It can truly be said that Kibaki and his clique of powerful, rich friends never anticipated the events that would unfold in the country as a result of their cumbersome 3rd grade rigging and subsequent swearing in at State House as if they were swearing in a house Prefect at Karagoyo Secondary School. No foreign dignitaries, in the cover of darkness, no independent news media and a Chief Justice ready to initiate a ceremony without the results.
It has become clear to the world that this poorly orchestrated exercise was inevitable, a desperate act by a desperate man jostling to cling to a Presidency taken away by the people.
Kibaki will not survive this.

Is this the beginning of guerilla warfare in Kenya? There are unverified reports that Karamojong guerilla fighters have arrived in Eldoret to join the fight against Kibaki’s regime:

GRACE EMAILED THIS TO ME**UNVERIFIED** BUT SOUNDS AUTHENTIC
This is a VERY important piece of information below. I think we now now what the two C-130’s that landed at Eldoret airport were carrying. There were carrying Karamajong.. the ones who are herding the 70,000 people into Burnt Forest and doing all the killing. Please see below….. A contingent of Karamojong guerrilla fighters are reported to have arrived in Eldoret town to join the struggle against Kibaki dictatorship. They are reported to have crossed Moi’s bridge to join forces fighting in the region. It is not yet clear how the guerrillas arrived in Eldoret but a source on the ground has told KSB that their arrival could signal the beginning of a guerrilla war-fare in Kenya to counter attacks by armed GSU forces which have been killing people. “People are getting frustrated and beginning to understand that on a long term, the anti-Kibaki war will not be fought with bare hands when security forces are armed”, said the source. “Security forces also need to begin dying and this will not happen with bare hands”, the source said. The guerrillas are reported to be remnants of the Shifta militia which were fighting the regime of former dictator Daniel arap Moi during the eighties.

Andrius Kulikauskas from WorkNets has left a comment on one of our posts about a project they are working on to offer help in Kenya. They have set up a Yahoo! group.:

Our online laboratory, Minciu Sodas, has many participants in Kenya and so we are organizing small projects to help http://groups.yahoo.com/group/onereachinganother/message/94 We’re also getting some reports and are working to provide more. Please let us know what would be useful and how we might work together. We’ll be engaging refugees and travellers in Kampala, Uganda and likely Arusha, Tanzania and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and be able to report that. We’re also considering translating short texts into Kiswahili about nonviolent action and overcoming ethnic strife. Please join us at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/onereachinganother/ send a blank message to onereachinganother-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Lovely Money asks, Who will save Kenya?:

“From what?” I hear you ask.
The burning of women and children in a church in Eldoret makes it hard for anyone to ignore the going-ons in Kenya in the aftermath of the just concluded general elections.
For centuries communities in Kenya have lived in harmony, albeit with a few skirmishes. Side by side we have built our nation into one of the most admirable and looked upon country in Africa
So what went wrong? What exactly is our problem? Why are Kenyans turning on each other. Neighbor upon neighbor. Our friends have turned into foes
Reading online comments and blog posts about the on-going election violence just shows how fragmented we are as a nation.
What has happened in the last few days cannot be wished away. I'm not sure how long it will take the nation to heal itself from the wounds of tribal bigotry.

The solution to this crisis lies in the hands of Kenyans themselves:

While everyone is looking up to the international community to resolve the impasse, I believe it is only Kenyans who can bring the situation to an end. The US and the EU governments will not put to an end the tribal animosity that we are witnessing in Kenya.
Only Kenyans will save themselves from other Kenyans. The outcome of the presidential elections will not matter after we have annihilated our compatriots.

Afromusing writes about the situation in Eldoret where people have been seeking refuge in churches and police stations:

- hi everyone, in Eldy, lots of tension though it has eased as it is daylight now, some people sought refuge in churches and police station last night and are still there this a.m saw some people carrying their belongings, will upload pics shortly if i can.
Yesterday, saw a mob of youth >300 crossing through farms, walking in a single file line. They later walked back after a few hrs.
Later in Kapsoya there were screams and people milling around.
-Just received an SMS from Safaricom that reads
“The ministry if Internal security urges you to please desist from sending or forwarding any SMS that may cause public unrest. This may lead to your prosecution”
-Continued media ban on live broadcasts
-Houses were burned in the last two days, things seem calmer now, though in Langas, people are still fighting and supposedly even more killed last night. Talked to a guy who lives there, says the leaders need to come there, one rep of the following languages: Luhya, Kalenjin, Kikuyu, put up a white flag and appeal for peace. “Radio appeals do nothing to calm that particular part of Eldoret”. In addition people’s heads are supposedly lying about and it is terrible.

Odeg blogs about the human face of statistics:

• so it seems clear that Raila got some 4.25 million votes to Kibakis 3.76 million. those are statistics. the reality is that Raila got 4.24 something million and my vote! but Kenyans don't seem to agree on any numbers. even in eldoret some say 200 pple were burnt , others say 30 while some 50. in kisumu,the armed police, whom pple say are from uganda have shot dead more than 40 people. still stats. in mombasa 8 people were burnt to death in their houses. stats stats stats.

but yesterday, i was able to put a face or faces to the stories. i met real people whom had been affected by the violence occasioned by Kibaki's robbery of the otherwise peaceful election. the story was grim. these guys were dragged out of their houses in the dead of the night. they were told to choose to either join the ‘revolution’ or face death.

Bridges in some parts of Kenya have been blown, another blogger reports:

…another friend called me from lugari, she said the bridges in the area had been blown and so she could not get to eldoret from her village. the village is one of the most cosmopolitan in the country since its a settlement scheme. she said her neighbours, friends and even relatives whose IDs showed them belonging to either Kikuyu, Kisii or bukusu communities were asked to leave and go to central kenya. their houses were then burnt indiscriminately. in that area, the protestors are mainly kalenjin and pokots who as opposed to luos , have AK-47s and in kisumu another very long time friend of mine escaped death by the breadth of a hair when a live bullet landed just a few inches from her feat . she had missed the bullet when she fell out of fear. and you wont believe where that was; at the gate of St. Theresa's cathedral church in Kibuye. the poor lady had gone to church. yesterday morning on new year she found several bodies right in front of her gate.

Jesse Masai reports heavy fighting in Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia:

• Heavy fighting in Uasin Gishu and parts of Trans Nzoia
- Aunt and family have been missing 3 days
- Information blackout terrifying. Media friend says hands tied by government
- In Kiptoy, Mitoni Mbili, etc, in Cherangany, people locked in their houses overnight, some reportedly burning. No security presence.
- Psalm 29:10 – The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth king for ever.

The Kenyan Army needs to save the county, observes Mimmiz:

The Army needs to come out with a mission to save Kenya from anarchy. I understand there are concerns about a divided army. I don't think this would come up unless their orders were anything but to enforce a curfew and apprehend anyone walking around armed with machetes or any such thing. I strongly believe that just their presence should knock some sense into many deliriously angry people out in the streets causing chaos. Kenya's army can very easily handle this situation.

She supports the media blackout:

As for the media blackout, I support it and I may be the only one. The one thing that country doesn't need right now is the media advertizing where crowds of violence are gathered so that other small crowds know where to merge and escalate issues. If you have relatives in any potential danger, this may make sense to you.

In the future, Kenya must educate the masses. About peace. And about how to evaluate issues and options and how to fight effectively without being the ultimate loser (mind wars vs bloody ones). Africa tells the same story over and over again. In the mid 1990s, the wealthy Rwandese were in Kenya and other viable African countries, their children in school with some of us. Many of the wealthy got away even in that situation. We claim we are fighting for the poor, but what happens is we cleanse ourselves of them and pick up with the same issues where we left off.

She calls on bloggers to write responsibly:

We the bloggers? Many who have become the source of information need to become very responsible with our posts. It would be foolish to think that an already incited population is not picking on what we're saying and that we're not helping to fuel emotions. Hopefully, we can all (perhaps with the exception of one Gerald Baraza) promote peace and helpfully suggest how that may be achieved.

Do you remember 1982?:

30 hours after I send a frantic SMS: “Are you ok?” Finally, a phone call.
The line is unclear, my family sound as though they are underwater. Suddenly, the idea of being “drowned” in violence sounds more than metaphorical.
My mother asks, “Do you remember 1982?” It’s one of the few sentences I can understand. I want to tell her no. Or, that I was too young to understand. But memories consist of more than facts. I remember 1982 as dark and uncertain—as a threat that hangs over all my political imaginings. To be national, I learned, was to live without certainty. 1982 always infantilizes me.
I answer, “a little bit.”
But, there is something different to this call. Once, in the midst of other clashes, when I was still away, I wondered if she’d leave the country, move somewhere safer. Stubbornly, she replied that she could not leave a country for which her father had fought and been imprisoned.
Now, she tells me she is considering leaving, will know more in a few days. More than anything, this scares me. It terrifies me, a lot.

The Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs has called for a legal solution to the problem, but Kenyan Jurist sees the problem as both legal and political:

I have just watched Hon Martha Karua, the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs give a press conference. The fact that she is close to HE Mwai Kibaki seems to give an indication of what the GoK position is. First, she is irked by the fact that some Commissioners could express doubt on the results as certified by the ECK. Secondly, she is very clear that any dispute regarding election results should be resolved by the court and the courts alone.
In view of what I have stated previously, she is wrong to think that the solution to the current problem is only legal. The problem is both legal and political. It is about legality and legitimacy. Its about justice. The EU and Commonwealth Observers have cast doubt on the election outcome. Some ECK Commissioners have also cast doubt on the whole process. In court, there is always a winner and a lose. The current situation needs no winner and losers and the court may be the institution least able to resolve the impasse if left to its own devices.

According to Kumekucha, the swearing in ceremony was organised before the results were known:

One of the things the first blundering Kibaki administration will always be remembered for is incompetence. This clearly came out in the just concluded general election because the administration failed to even rig the general election competently without getting caught and left behind too much evidence forensic and otherwise.

It is now emerging that the swearing in ceremony was conducted minutes after the election “results” were read. Meaning that it had been organized well in advance and guests invited and seated, even before the general election results were known. There are even disturbing suggestions that it may have been done before the results were announced! Those suggesting this point to the swearing in footage which was done outdoors in relatively broad daylight and yet the results were read late in the day as it was getting dark. In 2002 the swearing in ceremony was done a day after the results were officially announced but this time there was a big hurry.

Update from Thinker’s Room:

• More about the burnt church in Eldoret. There are conflicting stories as to the number of people that were inside. Numbers are ranging from 50 to 250
• There is looming fuel shortage in most petrol stations in Nairobi
• The unrest in Kenya is affecting Uganda as well. (Uganda, being landlocked, gets a lot of its supplies from Kenya). Fuel stations in Uganda are running out of fuel.
• Goods are being held at the port at the request of buyers for fear that they will be looted/destroyed en route.
• Samuel Kivuitu, ECK chairman has made some interesting comments on TV
1. He was under intense pressure to make the announcement
2. He contemplated resignation but felt that he would be perceived as a coward
3. He claimed that the ECK had no legal standing to act on the objections of the political parties (Which I don’t buy, especially the discrepancy between results announced at constituency level and those at the KICC)
4. He made an even more fascinating statement about presidency being very challenging, and then proceeding to say that the problem was some of the people around the presidency. He culminated by saying that some of the people around the presidency should never have been born

Mental Acrobatics is working on initiatives to save the country:

Apologies for silence today, I have been running around trying to keep tabs on the various initiatives to save our country. I will put up some posts in the next few hours.

You can see some extremely disturbing photos at Joseph Karoki’s blog.

Finally, if you are in Kenya, you can SMS your news to Mashada Hotline:

If you’re in Kenya and have news on the elections, you likely have no voice or no way to tell the world. Spread the word to SMS your news to the Mashada forums via their SMS hotline.

Send your SMS to +44 762 480 2635

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site