Baragoi and the Acceptance of Violence

I think the Baragoi slaughter of Security Officers is a poster-child for the society in which we live. It is that society that produced post-election violence. It is that society that tolerates IDPs.

Barely a week goes by without some alleged thugs, carjackers or faceless civilian being gunned down. Often the gunning is done by police officers who are quick to justify their actions as self-defence. Unless a family member of the victim comes forward to complain, the inquiry ends there.

Just a week ago an administration police officer was lynched. He followed a man out of a bar to arrest him for an undisclosed offence; the ‘suspect’ pointed to the police officer and cried thief. A mob ensued. The rest is an obituary.

A grenade blast in Eastleigh led, not to a sense of solidarity, sympathy and compassion, but to an explosion of violence against Somalis.

Violence has been allowed to reign in Northern Rift Valley. The animosity between the people and the security forces is well known. The government solution? Send in the Soldiers.

Violence has been allowed to reign in North-Eastern Province. The fear and suspicion between local communities and the security forces is well known. The government solution? Implement a silent state of martial law. Oh, and send in more soldiers.

I would not be surprised if the next stage in dealing with striking workers is to send in the soldiers to act as strike breakers. Violence and counter-violence are now seen as legitimate means of confronting the state and its security agents. And the state response is predictable. This mutual spiral of contempt leads one way: to the further de-legitimisation of the state. And the ultimate expression of that de-legitimisation? Massacre as a method of self-defence.

The violence in Turkana, Mandera, and the Coast. the emergence and resurgence of groups such as the MRA and Mungiki the militarisation of towns and cities all point to a pattern of instability. Every time the security forces quell widespread violence in one area, it pops up in another. It’s like fighting a grassfire; you think it’s gone out, but hot cinders are smouldering beneath the charred earth. A stiff breeze blows those cinders up in the air and the fire breaks out in another location. This is the pattern of violence that currently reigns in this country.  And we’re not the only country in Africa experiencing the ‘cinder effect’. Two years after its own Post-Election violence, violence waxes and wanes in Cote D’Ivoire as this piece details.

In such a climate, an election operates like a stiff breeze. It’s why the deadly game of musical chairs our politicians have just played out must be challenged. Jubilee and Cord and the rest ad nauseam are just a load of finger twiddling as Rome burns. And the civil society are not much better. I really question whether endless arguments over gender quotas and eligibility to stand for election can challenge the finger-twiddling habits of our society.

As a popular saying goes: Usipojipanga, utapangwa


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Following the Hague trials of 4 Kenyans to the end. A blog by Archie Nyarango

UK Constitutional Law Association

affiliated to the International Association of Constitutional Law


Advancing the rule and role of law in Africa

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