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Binyavanga Wainaina and Shailja Patel Comment on the Kenyan Elections

ShailjaThe Binj

 
MigritudeOne Day I Will Write About This PlaceKenyan writers Binyavanga Wainaina and Shailja Patel have each written articles about the recent elections in Kenya.

Patel’s article in The New Inquiry is a personal account of how she’s seen Kenya changing and maturing politically, and captures some of the nuances of what happened in the post-election violence of 2008. She describes her own role as an activist engaging with the political apparatus to ensure change and justice comes to Kenya in the aftermath of the violence.

Her article was written in anticipation of last Monday’s election, and gives a background of the key players and some of the realities on the ground. Patel is the author of Migritude.

Wainaina’s article in The Guardian is almost jubilant in comparison, and comes after the winner of the presidential election has been declared.

He looks at the ways in which Western countries seemingly have invested a lot in Kenya’s continued instability, for their own benefit. Wainaina attacks these presumptions about Kenya and its future. He says that the International Criminal Court is not what he would consider an effective institution, but rather one that “bungles” its mission in places where it seeks to bring individuals to justice. Wainaina declares: “Kenya is a real place, with real politics.”

The Caine Prize winner and author of One Day I Will Write About This Place writes that he simply wants peace and congratulates president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta.

Uhuru Kenyatta is the president-elect of Kenya. Together with his deputy, William Ruto, he has persuaded just over 50% of Kenyans that with his Jubilee coalition in power there is a strong chance that there will be lasting peace in the Rift Valley. Voters are fully aware of this, and what this election means. International media have missed the point.

For half the country, especially the Kikuyu and Kalenjin, this election has been all about security. Nobody believes, for example, that the international criminal court is serious enough, strong enough or material enough to the political reality in Kenya to make much of a difference. We are not, and have never been, a CNN African country, held together by western pins and glue, pity, bananas and paternal concern.

December 29th, 2002

Moi. Is. Going. There was a time you didn’t dare speak the words.

My father’s voice exults over static from Nairobi to San Francisco.

Kenya’s election results are rolling in. Mwai Kibaki, the presidential candidate fielded by the rainbow coalition of opposition parties, has won 65% of the vote. Titans of single party rule have lost their seats. An unprecedented eleven women have been elected to parliament. The era of Daniel Arap Moi, and the ruling party KANU, who have plundered Kenya at will for 24 years, is over.

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Images courtesy Flavorpill San Francisco and The Guardian

 

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