So the BBC has gone the way of The New York Times in avoiding references to tribalism. Auntie’s euphemism of choice is “inter-communal violence”. The tribalism deniers should talk to John Oduri, a Luo.
I met him in Naivasha yesterday. He had been with his brother when a mob of Kikuyus arrived at the door on Sunday. They tried to pretend they weren’t Luos but there was one way the gang could check. They stripped his brother naked. When they found he hadn’t been circumcised – marking him out as a Luo living in the lands of the foreskin-less – they hacked him to death with pangas.
Whatever the cause – whether colonial rule, land, or the inability to distinguish Ls from Rs – and whatever sparked off this latest round of violence, things are spiralling out of control. This past week has seen a series of revenge attacks as Kikuyus are bussed in to launch attacks on Luos, Kalenjins and anyone else who has killed their kin.
It may have started as political violence with ethnic undertones but now the Rift Valley has moved into a new phase of killing.
I’d like to agree with the likes of Madeleine Bunting or those who believe western reporters are dealing in dated stereotypes. And my usual position is that people all over the world are the same, driven by the same rational motives as you and me. But now I’ve met too many people like John Oduri.