So Now We Know Who’s to Blame

Interesting analysis from Caroline Elkins (author of  Britain’s Gulag) in today’s Standard about the current crisis in Kenya. Turns out Britain is to blame… 

Far from leaving behind democratic institutions and cultures, Britain bequeathed to its former colonies corrupted and corruptible governments.

A distinctly colonial view of the rule of law saw the British leave behind legal systems that facilitated tyranny, oppression and poverty rather than open, accountable government. And compounding these legacies was Britain’s famous imperial policy of divide and rule, which often turned fluid groups of individuals into immutable ethnic units, much like Kenya’s Luo and Kikuyu today.

Whatever the problems caused by British rule, I’m not sure that blaming Kenya’s – or Africa’s – current ills on colonialism helps the Right Honourable Mwai Kibaki or Raila Odinga face up to their responsibilities. These two men have let Kenya down badly. Blaming it on anyone else simply lets them off the hook.

2 thoughts on “So Now We Know Who’s to Blame

  1. This is like trying to blame your parents for a bad upbringing and the state of your life as an adult.There comes a time when you have to take full responsibility for your life.

    Elkin may have meant well and to some extent agree with her, but if we start putting the blame on the colonialists that will be like a get of jail free card for Raila and Kibaki

  2. It would certainly be wrong to put all the blame on colonialism – which Caroline Elkins never did, she wrote about the “origins of Kenya’s ethnic tensions”. And the origins in terms of the geographical shape of Kenya are colonial just as well as the origins of the attitudes of ethnic groups towards each other are mainly colonial. To me she has an important point acting as a counterbalance to what BBC has been publishing, where the sentence they keep repeating in almost every article: “Kenyan politics has been dogged by ethnic tensions since independence in 1963.” clearly reflects the colonial masters voice

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