Friday, April 18, 2008

Sounds familiar?

The dance of absurdity became a dance of death. Government agents shot at marchers, while allies of the opposition went about ethnic cleansing with impunity. Others destroyed property in an orgy of nihilistic fury. The image of a child hurled into the flames of a burning church while attempting to run away is indicative of Kenya’s plague of poor-on-poor violence, stoked by a hard-hearted middle class that advocates regional ethnic cleansing while enjoying a cosmopolitan lifestyle in gated city residences, purified of the poor except those who come to serve.

That's Ngugi Wa Thiong'o in the latest issue of Granta, writing about the recent churning in Kenya.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

More about Kenya in the Kwani? Commentary section (you'll want to be looking for the January posts.)



km said...

And Kenya was among the few stable places left in that mighty continent.

swar said...

My Kenyan classmate, who left her country 5 months ago, doesn't want to talk about it.

At our regular Stammtisch, I have found that my Iranian, Iraqi and Afghan friends who have lived away from their countries for long find it a little easier to talk and argue misfortunes.

Space Bar said...

km: But stability at the cost of what?

swar: I can imgagine.

I hope you didn't think I was trying to argue misfortunes; I was just pointing out that we are equally smug in India.

km said...

No, no, no cost at all. I was just saying Kenya was mostly peaceful till the elections happened.

Space Bar said...

km: hmm. I don't know enough to say, of course, except the little I've read on Kwani?, the essay by wa Thiong'o and VAssanji's wonderful The In-Between World of Vikram Lall.

It appears to me that Kenya's stability came at great cost to a number of people. But I really don't know.

Fëanor said...

Hiya, SB. I suspect we should blame the Brits for that mess as well. They were adept at sundering tribes and family loyalty in the name of 'nations' created with artificial frontiers - the usual story. I might glibly add that it's been several decades since independence for most African countries, and surely that's long enough to realise in the interim that they gotta sort out the colonial mess themselves now? A Zimbabwe-based columnist, Joram Nyathi, in the free UK newspaper, the New Zimbabwe, had several intelligent and cogent suggestions, but nobody in power wants to use people of talent like him (pls. see last two paragraphs of this, if you like).

Space Bar said...

Feanor: Hey there. And precisely; how can anyoneone blame present corruption on past wrongs? To be fair to people like wa Thiong'o, I don't think they did that. Their exiles were the result of their outspokenness against current government.

I'm not sure how a call for the return of intellectuals is to be achieved, really, when so many of them had been imprisoned or forced into exile.