Essential Reading

It’s easy to write reams about how Kenya was supposed to be a haven of stability in a troubled corner of Africa, that its press enjoys freedoms only dreamed about in much of the rest of the continent, that it had made an reasonable transition to multi-party democracy. And so on. Then you point out that, well, it’s still Africa and that Kenya has never quite managed to bury its ethnic problems, and sometimes these things happen.

But sometimes a story comes along that hits you between the eyes and makes you realise just how crazy the current unrest really is. It’s simple and straightforward, and doesn’t spell what it all means. It just tells it as it is and is all the more vital for that:

By Tim Cocks

ELDORET, Kenya (Reuters) -A Kenyan Olympic runner who competed internationally for many years was amongst victims of the country’s post-poll violence when a mob stoned him to death this week, a close friend said on Friday. Lucas Sang, a middle-distance runner, had competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics as part of Kenya’s 4×400 metre relay quartet, and again in the 1992 games in Barcelona.

Maybe it doesn’t work if you aren’t a sports fan (or a former schoolboy 400m runner) but it just made me think of Phil Brown.

One thought on “Essential Reading

  1. I’m honestly not sure how to read “it’s still Africa.” There seems to be something quite ahistorical–and even glib–about the statement. After all, we could point to the Jena 6 and say, “it’s still America,” conflating America now with antebellum America–and the examples could be multiplied across Europe and the so-called developed world.

    What we call ethnicity, or is often called “tribe” elsewhere, is as complex and historical as race, religion, or class, in parts of the world that privilege such terms. To reduce such complexity is to do injustice to history, and to the people touched by such histories.

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