Bizarre (and more sobering) headlines (Kenya)

After tie vote, Nairobi mayor to be determined by lot – rolling the dice, drawing straws, flipping a coin – actually drawing a “Yes” or “No” vote. (For full details – Daily Nation story.

In Nairobi, the 86 city councilors select a mayor from among themselves. The previous Nairobi mayoral election ended in a fully televised brawl, with chairs flying across the room. This time Nairobi was a microcosm of the national situation – split down the middle 50-50. Even power sharing was proposed. (Actually ODM should have the votes, but it appears some councilors may have been bribed.)

Kenyan Vice President suggests criminalizing ethnicity.

I’m sure in reality he was probably talking about criminalizing activities leading to ethnic violence, but this is what the Rwandan paper wrote after his visit.

Kenya vice president Kalonzo Musyoka contemplated criminalising ethnicity as a solution to the crisis in his country.

After meeting with President Paul Kagame on Friday, Musyoka said: “Wherever symptoms of ethnic differences arise, there requires a quick reaction to suppress them.” The post election violence in Kenya that has led to the deaths of as many as 1,000 people, is widely believed to be the result of the ethnic and political differences in the country.

Musyoka said that his country’s planned a constitutional review will look into these differences. His contemplation comes in the wake of mediation efforts by former UN boss, Kofi Anan to end Kenya’s political standoff.

Musyoka is optimistic that the two sides will come to an agreement soon.

“I want to confirm to the world that Kenyans have decided to bring their grievances to levelled grounds,” he said at a press conference at Kigali’s Serena Hotel.

“We are not out of the woods, but instead we are almost there. This is not time to demean Kenyans but only to rally behind them in solving their problems.”

Witchcraft against Thieves:

Fear of witchcraft pervades an Embu village where at least seven people have committed suicide in the last one month under circumstances associated with sorcery. Thieves have started returning stolen goods to their rightful owners as the police record zero cases of theft in the area for the last few weeks.

A more sobering headline Kenya’s gangs are arming:
Summary descriptions of Mungiki, Kalinjin warriors, Taliban, Bagdad boys, Kosovo, etc. 205 youths arrested while training.

Lessons from Cote D’Ivoire:

that these politicians could only muster the courage to reach out to one another after their country had nearly been destroyed by war. They could have spared their country a lot of pain.

. . .

So how did Cote d’Ivoire pull its chestnuts out of the fire, and what lessons can Kenya learn from this process? It was a long and slow one in which even a small step towards national reconciliation and healing helped.

. . .

Events in Cote d’Ivoire show that political crises in Africa can be managed, particularly if they are not left to fester for too long, and that a Somalia-like situation and the full-scale wars that Mozambique and Angola went through can be avoided.

However, hostility to international involvement in the crisis, the arrogance of power and unyielding positions could well plunge Kenya into a hell from which it might never recover.

But positively: Obama’s Kenyan Roots (NYTimes)

A barefoot old woman in a ripped dress is sitting on a log in front of her tin-roof bungalow in this remote village in western Kenya, jovially greeting visitors.

Mama Sarah, as she is known around here, lives without electricity or running water. She is illiterate and doesn’t know when she was born. Yet she may have a seat of honor at the next presidential inauguration in Washington — depending on what happens to her stepgrandson, Barack Obama.

Mama Sarah cannot communicate with Mr. Obama, who calls her his grandmother, because she speaks only her Luo tribal language and a little Swahili. Senator Obama’s Luo is pretty much limited to “musawa,” meaning “how are you?”

. . .

If we call ourselves a land of opportunity, then Mr. Obama’s heritage doesn’t threaten American values but showcases them. The stepgrandson of an illiterate, barefoot woman in this village of mud huts in Africa may be the next president of the United States. Such mobility — powered by education, immigration and hard work — is cause not for disparagement but for celebration.

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