Over the past several weeks there have been demonstrations happening all across Kenya, protesting in the wake of the 2017 presidential election. I’m no expert at politics, let alone foreign policy, but I’m going to attempt to inform you on what I have learned from local news reports, and explanations from coworkers and family, so bare with me.
The opposition, know as CORD and led by leader Raila Odinga, have been protesting against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) because they feel like they are not being properly represented in the government. With the 2017 presidential election quickly approaching, they want to make sure that their voices are being heard and that they get a say in Kenyan politics. They are calling for the removal of current IEBC commissioners before the general election. So, they have been holding weekly protests on Mondays. The thing is, these protests usually turn violent. In recent weeks, protesters have been known to throw rocks, loot stores, burn tires/cars. The police respond by using tear gas and live bullets to control the crowd. In Kisumu alone, there were 22 people shot two Mondays ago, with two people dying. I write this all to say that at times things get a little unpredictable, the state of the nation changes from day to day, hour to hour. I am not writing this blog to point fingers at who is right and who is wrong. I can’t help but to draw parallels between Kenya and Ferguson. What are you supposed to do when you believe that your government is failing you? When the people who are responsible for having your best interest in hand, are only concerned with money?
I am only in this country temporarily, unlike those around me. I am an outsider peeking into the daily lives of Kenyans. As an outsider, I will never truly understand the deep rooted issues that lie within this country, I can only skim the surface. In a few weeks I’ll be boarding a plane back to the United States, no longer plagued by uncertainty, while those that I have come to know continue to wonder whether things will change. With talks currently in the works between President Uhuru and Raila, I am a little more hopeful for better days. We will just have to wait and see how things play out.
Chentese Stewart ’18