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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 2-Jan-08
Post-election massacre in Kenya raises concerns of tribal war

Web Log - January, 2008

Post-election massacre in Kenya raises concerns of tribal war

Hundreds of people have been killed in ethnic violence since Monday, following accusations that the administration had rigged the weekend's election that won Mwai Kibaki a second 5-year term as President of Kenya.

The worst known atrocity so far occurred when 30 people died in a church fire. Dozens of people had gone to the church to escape increasing violence, when a youthful gang set the church on fire, trapping people inside.

There's widespread international concern that the situation will spiral into a full-scale civil war, but Generational Dynamics predicts that such a war is possible but unlikely for a few more years, and that the current round of violence is likely to fizzle out.

Kenya's last crisis war was the "Mau-Mau Rebellion." Britain had been exerting a fairly heavy hand as a colonial power, starting from the 1850s. An independence movement began in earnest in the late 1940s, leading to the rebellion that began in 1952 and climaxed in 1956. In the Recovery Era that followed, Kenya finally gained independence in 1964.

Thus, 51 years have passed since the climax of the last crisis war, making the current era a generational "Unraveling" era. During an Unraveling era (like America in the 1990s), a new crisis war is possible in the case of a foreign invasion, but is unlikely otherwise.

Thus, it's possible but unlikely for the current violence in Kenya to spiral out of control into a crisis civil war. As each year passes, however, the chances of a new crisis civil war increase.

As usual, the mainstream journalists, analysts and politicians have no idea what's going on. When I try to present generational theory to them, they simply blow me off, since they'd profer to keep getting things wrong, time after time.

What I've been hearing on CNN is that "the violence has surprised international observers, since Kenya has been recognized for its stability since it became independent in 1963, unlike other Sudan, Congo, Somalia and other African countries."

This paragraph contains the usual anti-African bigotry that we hear so often from the mainstream press and politicians. They view black Africa as a hotbed of continuing war, and war as a way of life for the black Africans. In their minds, this contrasts with Westerners who live in peace and tranquility.

Here's another bit of analysis from someone who has no idea what's going on:

"Past disturbances in Kenya have tended to peter out after a few days. That may happen now.

Yet Kenya is also in uncharted territory. Never before has there been a media blackout - with local television and radio stations forbidden from carrying live broadcasts - and never before have ethnic tensions run so high.

And never before have Kenyans feared the possibility of civil war. Yet, for the first time, many Kenyans say they believe that is just what could happen if the country's election controversy is not resolved soon."

This increasing level of conflict is exactly what is to be expected from generational theory.

What they don't understand is that different countries have different generational and crisis war timelines. Most of the West were committing huge atrocities during World War II, while many African countries were relatively untouched by that war. In the 1970s there were massively genocidal crisis wars in Vietnam and Cambodia, and in the 1980s they occurred in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and the former Yugoslavia. For some reason that isn't clear to me, mainstream journalists and politicians count these atrocities as exceptions, while they count similar atrocities in Africa as normal.

Darfur's last crisis war was World War II, ending in 1945. Incidents of tribal violence began in the 1970s, there was a brief war in the late 1980s, and a full-scale crisis war began in 2003, 58 years after the end of the previous crisis war.

So Kenya is about ten years behind Darfur on the generational timeline. Kenya had some low-level ethnic violence in the 1980s, a brief outbreak of ethnic clashes following the 1992 election, and now another round of ethnic clashes, including a few real atrocities.


Another interesting comparison between Kenya and Darfur is the fight over land resources.

In Darfur, the original incidents occurred between camel herders and farmers. (This is similar to the conflicts between cowboys and farmers in 1800s America.) The camel herders drive their herds over crops and kill them, which infurates farmers. Farmers retaliate by building fences, which infuriates herders.

In Kenya, the land conflict followed a different scenario. After the British were expelled, the leading Kikuyu tribe took over and became the dominant economic and government force in the country, taking over lands that had formerly been owned by the British colonists.

As population increased over the decades, another tribe, the Luos, were pushed toward the eastern edge of the country, especially into the region bordering the Indian Ocean, where they pursued their traditional lifestyles as fishermen. There are other Kenyan tribes as well, and many have been marginalized.

Although President Mwai Kibaki is a Kikuyu, when he won his first election in 2002, he was welcomed as someone who could unite all the tribes by means of his National Rainbow Coalition (Narc).

However, he became unpopular, thanks to repeated scandals and large-scale corruption in his administration. Furthermore the Luo tribe felt increasing marginalized and poor.

A major symbol of the disagreement between Kikuyus and Luos is that Kikuyus traditionally have considered female circumcision to be essential, while Luos do not practice it. (This is an example of how wars and conflicts cause religious symbols to be adopted. That is, as I've written before at length, war causes religion. Religion does not cause war, as some claim.)

And so, according to one blogger, The Kikuyu despise the Luo as uncircumcised fish-eaters, while the Luo see the Kikuyu as arrogant and greedy westernised Africans who have abandoned their cultural traditions.

With that background, last week's election approached with two major candidates: The Kikuyu candidate Mwai Kibaki, and the Luo candidate, Raila Odinga. In the end, the final vote tally was 4,584,721 votes for Kibaki, and 4,352,993 votes for Odinga. The two tallies were close enough to cause Odinga to claim vote-rigging. Since corruption is widespread in the Kibaki administration, Odinga's claim led to the widespread violence.

So the stage is definitely getting set for a major ethnic civil war, but it's still just a few years too early along the generational timeline. (2-Jan-08) Permanent Link
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