Kenya: War & Ethnic Strife

Alexa Winestock


Period 4

Mr. Hjelmgren


War and Ethnic Strife


            War is inevitable to the human race. We can always step closer to peace around the world, but to have complete peace is the unimaginable. In past years the people in South Africa have had war follow them around. Whether for the everyday necessities such as food or which president is to be elected next, there are large arguments in each case. Specifically, in Kenya, the situation of war between ethnic groups has greatly deteriorated.

            Since Kenya’s first years of independence, things have changed quite a bit. When Kenya was granted independence in 1964, Jomo Kenyatta, part of the Kikuyu tribe, was the first president. “When independence was at stake, violence and conflict decreased.” (Modern Nations of the World: Kenya) Kenyatta went by the saying Harambee, which means, “pull together” during his presidency. He wished for the Kenyans to become one. “Many think that Tom Mboya’s death in 1969 was by a member of the Kikuyu to prevent a Luo from being the next president.” (Continent in the Balance: Africa-Kenya) This was a turning point and from here, the ethnic violence escalated. Daniel Toroitich arap Moi was the next president and he was part of the Tugen tribe, a smaller and less powerful tribe in Kenya. “Moi seemed to many, as a good leader because he was not a part of the Kikuyu or Luo tribe.” (Continent in the Balance: Africa-Kenya) Part of the reason they went after each other was because of Moi. “Moi had distrust and dislike among the Luo and Kikuyu and kept them at each other’s throats so he could keep his power.” (Continent in the Balance: Africa-Kenya) The violence has increased since Moi’s presidency and needs to be put to an end.

            Kenya’s ethnic strife still exists today and the war’s are getting bloodier. After Moi’s presidency Kenya has become corrupt. In the 1980’s and 1990’s Kenya needed to start using foreign aid from countries such as the United States and Britain.  Not only inside the country do they face war but also from outside Kenya. There are threats from terrorist groups such as Al-Queda. For example they drove a vehicle with explosives in it into a hotel in Mombassa. The most recent occurrence of ethnic strife is the most recent presidential election between Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, and Ralia Odinga, a Luo. “The Luo thought the election was rigged since Odinga was winning the preliminary results but after the election the real winner was Kibaki.” (Kenya: History, Geography, Government, and Culture-infoplease.com) War then broke out and hasn’t ceased since then. In January 2008 the war intensified and more than 800 people died because of the ethnic violence and the next month the number of deaths had increased by more than 200 people.

            War in Kenya is not over and is deteriorating. The future doesn’t look too bright for the two tribes and Kenya’s population looks as though it will go downhill as well. More and more people are dying and no one has seemed to take action. The situation is not getting better and we need to find a way to make peace between the two tribes.

Works Cited 

Corona, Laurel.
Kenya. Modern Nations of the World. N.p.: n.p., 2000.

This book gave me information on recent occurrences in Kenya and recent rivalries.

Corrigan, Jim.
Continent in the Balance: Africa-Kenya. N.p.: n.p., 2005.

This book gave me information on the past wars in Kenya between the two ethnic groups. It also gave me information on the presidents and what they did to help or hurt the situation.

Kenya: History, Geography, Government, and Culture-Infoplease.com. 2008. Pearson Education.  2 May 2009 <http://www.heritage.org/‌research/‌africa/‌bg766.cfm>.

This website gave me information on the most recent election and what happened between the two tribes.

Last Updated By Alexa Winestock on May 22, 2009