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Gorme xoloo noqoney? -- When did we become livestock?
April 21, 2014 3:34 AM   Subscribe

In early April, hundreds of Somali speaking Kenyans were arrested in a supposed anti-terrorist sweep in Eastleigh, Nairobi after an alleged Al Shabaab attack left six dead. The people arrested were taken to a local football stadium and kept in cages, unless they could afford to bribe the police. For The New Inquiry Aaron Bady uses Kenyan and other news sources to explain the background to these razzias, why Somalis are often the victim of police extortion and how this impacts Kenya as a whole.

(A short primer: Kenya borders Somalia, has always had a minority of Somali speaking people within its borders, which has of course been swelled by refugees from the decades old civil wars in Somalia and because of its support for the Somali Federal Government of Somalia and involvement with the African Union Mission to Somalia has suffered terrorist attacks from the Al Shabaab militant Islamic organisation. Eastleigh is a predominantly Somali neighbourhood of Nairobi and is where both the terrorist attack and most of the police sweeps happened.)
posted by MartinWisse (11 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
When I was there last year the casually voiced, deep deep racism towards Somalis in all settings, social and professional, from a wide range of Kenyans including senior officials, ngo workers, corporates, drivers, hotel staff -you name it -was staggering to me.

This was before the mall shootings, I shudder to think what it's like now. Racism towards Somalis springs from old tribal and colonial divisions, is exacerbated by demographics and religion, and imho is also used by the govt to distract from their own issues, nest lining and responsibilities.

Before I went, I had believed Kenya to be one of the leading African nations, but from my experience there and subsequent reading, I feel it is a very troubled country.
posted by smoke at 4:18 AM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I especially liked this editorial from the collected links on the page.
posted by smoke at 4:42 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


The lawlessness of this situation to me is staggering and awful and hard to think about.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:59 AM on April 21, 2014


i'm confused...the govt of Kenya seems to support Somalia if they support the govt and the African Union Mission.

but based on smoke's comment it seems like while the govt as entity may support Somalia, the people do not?

is that a correct (high level) understanding?
posted by McSockerson The Great at 5:17 AM on April 21, 2014


i'm confused...the govt of Kenya seems to support Somalia if they support the govt and the African Union Mission.

but based on smoke's comment it seems like while the govt as entity may support Somalia, the people do not?


The government of Kenya (and AMISOM generally) doesn't support the government of Somalia a centimeter farther than it takes to keep al-Shabab out of Kenya (and other African states). The only reason the AU is there is to stabilize the country enough to keep its civil war and the Somali people from spreading.
posted by Etrigan at 5:51 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Tribalism is deeply engrained in Kenya even to the point that internal government affairs are run according to genetic and family divisions.
Somalis are looked on with scorn as a thief/merchant class reminiscent of the views of Jews in Europe for several centuries.
A bloodless revolution and the system of civil government put in place by the British has carried kenya much further into modernity than many of their neighbors, but incidents such as the mall bombing and subsequent looting (by police and soldiers) and the overt racist corruption described in the OP reveal a society that continues to struggle to grow into the fruits of a modern government and civilization that took centuries to develop in societies to the north.
Still one of the best, though..
posted by bird internet at 6:04 AM on April 21, 2014


Before I went, I had believed Kenya to be one of the leading African nations, but from my experience there and subsequent reading, I feel it is a very troubled country.

Those aren't necessarily contradictory statements. They are very different countries, but I think both Kenya and Nigeria are comparable in having big, influential economies along with very troubled political systems.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:13 AM on April 21, 2014


Indeed dip flash but if you look at the respective compositions, Kenya's less healthy. The country is hugely dependent on tourism revenues and aid, both directly and through its position of aid industry hub.

I feel for every similarity (impoverished, arid, Muslim, north with conflict etc) there is a difference. The colonial and post colonial periods have played out quite differently.
posted by smoke at 6:34 AM on April 21, 2014


If anyone is interested, I can recommend hornsbys huge tome on Kenya since independence. It's almost comically large, but mostly fair, irrefutably thorough, and well written, albeit dry.
posted by smoke at 6:38 AM on April 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


Previously
posted by infini at 1:47 PM on April 21, 2014


Thanks for sharing this, MartinWisse -- it's a fearsome collection of news with very frightening implications.

This Kenyan open data project, LandQuest (more info here at the School of Data), does not specifically deal with Kenyan/Somali issues but aims to shed some light on the land issues that drive inequality in the country. I feel naïve saying this, but it was really disappointing to me to read about the local effects of the rose-growing industry, since I've previously heard that roses from Kenya are more environmentally friendly than European-grown ones because of the warmer climate. Obviously there are other considerations to make too.
posted by daisyk at 3:12 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


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