Austin Bay

In the past, both Kibaki and Odinga have professed anti-corruption agendas. In the 2002 presidential race, Odinga supported Kibaki. Last year, Odinga denounced Kibaki's failure to control corruption and ran a populist campaign that targeted "the wealthy." Odinga is from the Luo tribe. Kibaki is a Kikuyu. In the election aftermath, it appears that to some ethnic Luo rioters "the wealthy" may be a code word for Kikuyus. The Kikuyu are Kenya's "business tribe," and tend to be wealthier and have more access to education opportunities. The Kikuyus' critics charge them with cronyism. The Kikuyu respond that their success incites envy.

Sensational comparisons to Rwanda's 1994 nightmare neglect the vast difference in scale. Eight hundred thousand died in Rwanda's genocide. Up to this point Kenya's death toll is between 600 and 700. Yes, that's a terrible bloodletting and a warning, but also establishes perspective. Demonstrations continue nationwide, but the worst violence remains localized. Annan wants to help keep it that way, and there is time to encourage sober compromise.

As for the future? There is cause for hope. On a visit to Kenya six years ago, I acquired a copy of "Inside Sudan: The Story of People to People Peacemaking in Southern Sudan." Published by the New Sudan Council of Churches, the book described in detail peacemaking strategies pursued in the midst of southern Sudan's complex tribal and religious war.

The strategies included using tribal reconciliation rituals to coax tribal leaders into negotiating or to help amenable leaders draw antagonized and alienated tribesmen into a peace process with their enemies.

The book was published in Nairobi.


Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
 
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