Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Lack of prosecution over post-election violence worsens Kenya's case at ICC

This is an extended version of a letter The Nation kindly published, 19 Nov 2013:


In a recent opinion article (“Is the die cast?” 18 Nov 2013), Kiriro wa Ngugi talks of Britain’s double standards in supporting the ICC [International Criminal Court] process. He writes that Britain previously released her own prisoners in Northern Ireland, and so asks: “Why would the UK Government [...] not allow us to do what they themselves have already done in the past to resolve their own social turmoil?”

Mr Ngugi is referring to the Good Friday agreement of 10 April 1998. This is in no way, however, a period of history that supports the actions of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto towards the ICC.

Mr Ngugi describes the agreement between Britain and Ireland as showing preference for peace over justice, and so argues: “This is the exact same direction and philosophy that Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto adopted after the 2008 PEV [post-election violence].”

What happened in the Good Friday Agreement, however, is that both the British and Irish governments recognised they had misused their paramilitary forces to exacerbate confrontation between those who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom and those who wanted her to become part of the Republic of Ireland. Admitting their fault, they sought ways of rebuilding confidence between the divided communities.

The big difference between those instigators of violence and the instigators of Kenya’s PEV was that they were already in prison. To understand the difference, imagine this happened in Kenya...

Imagine culprits of the 2008 PEV were convicted by Kenyan courts and were now sitting in prison. Then, to reconcile the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities, elders and leaders of both groups—who were not themselves necessarily involved in organising the violence—came together to publicly say their communities had committed faults in the past and that this was an unacceptable way of building the country of Kenya. Then, to demonstrate their commitment to peace, they forgave each other’s communities and decided to reduce the sentences of those of both sides sitting in prison.

The comparison does not hold between Northern Ireland and Kenya because of the complete lack of criminal proceedings in Kenya against perpetrators of violence at any level. There is no one in Kenya whose prison sentence we can publicly reduce in order to say forgiveness should take priority over justice.

If an alien is looking down at Kenya from Mars, it would think Kenyan society is most afraid of whether or not matatus have hazard signs in their boot—because that is what the police force spends most of its time checking. From Mars they would be amazed to hear that actually what citizens are afraid of is violence during elections, Al-Shabaab terrorism, threats of secession from the Mombasa Republican Council and killings in Tana River.

When the international community remains committed to procedures of justice it is saying we believe in Kenya. We believe killing is never acceptable as a form of political intimidation. We stand on the side of those committed to peace and we reject threats, corruption and violence as forms of political abuse. We count African countries as equal partners in building a peaceful world. We believe there is nowhere saying one group of politicians should have special permission to organise violence against their citizens. We believe leaders are servants of the people and democracy stands or falls on the question of whether you can count your leader as your equal. We see Kenya as a great nation and we will always stand on the side of justice for her people.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Kenyan citizens' U-shaped pride

Analysing the newly-released 2011 Afrobarometer survey results on Kenya, there appears to be a U-shaped curve of citizen pride in the country. In general, pride in being a citizen of Kenya, as in other African countries, is high, with 66% of respondents strongly agreeing it makes them proud to be Kenyan. However, cross-tabulating the data, it appears fondness for Kenya varies based on one's employment status.

To understand what is going on, I compiled an index on pride in being Kenyan, scoring citizen responses so they can be compared across different sets of groups. As the figure below shows, there is a U-shaped curve for national pride, based on employment status. Both those who are in full-time employment and those without work who are not looking for work are proud of being Kenyan. Those who do not have work but are looking for it, and those who only have part-time work, are much less proud.


Pride in being Kenyan, by age and employment status



What are we to make of these statistics? It seems those who love Kenya most are those who either have a full time job or are sitting about happy doing nothing. Those doing nothing but fond of the country are not just old wazee, however. While it is true senior citizens tend to be slightly more fond than others, pride in Kenya is highest for all age groups among those not looking for work.

Kenyans often use the motif "twende kazi!" ("let's get to work!"). But if that means you won't get full-time paid work, you may end up more unsatisfied with the country than if you had just stayed at home...

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Kitendawili katika Afrika ya Mashariki

Niliskia kuhusu kitendawili baada rafiki yangu aliniambia kwamba Raila Odinga alitumia kitendawili akienda kuongea na umma. Rafiki yangu alicheka kwa sababu Raila alitumia kitendawili kueleza kulikuwa wasiasa wabaya sana - wasiasa ambao ni tofauti kati ya ndani na nje, kama mayai. Kuongea juu ya wasiasa kama hawa, alitumia "kitendawili".

Kitendawili ni nini? Kamusi yangu inaeleza kwamba kitendawili ni "riddle" kwa Kiingereza. Lakini ni tofauti kidogo, sindiyo? Baadhi ya "riddles" ni hadithi ya ajabu; hadithi na fumbo. Nani aliua nani? Au, yeye alitoroka jengo lile vipi?

Kitendawili ni kitu flani zaidi. Kamusi ya Kiswahili inandika kwamba ni "ki-tenda-wili", kama kutenda mara mbili. Huu ni mfano:

Kitendawili: Nyumba yangu kubwa, haina taa.

Jibu: Kaburi.

Watu wana akili sana. Kwa hivyo tunaweza kuwaza na kupanga maneno kusema vitu tofauti kwa sauti moja. Kama hii tunatenda mara mbili.

Hii ni vizuri lakini pia kuna tatizo flani moja.

Kwenye uchaguzi ya Kenya, tumeumwa kwa "kusema kwa chuki" ("hate speech"). Hili ni tatizo kubwa tukitumia intaneti. Kupiga tatizo hili, siku hizi watu wanajaribu kufundisha kompyuta kutafuta maneno ya chuki kuwaambia polisi. Ni kusaidia kusimama mapigiano kati ya makabili tofauti. Kama tumeona, hii haitashinda kabisa kwa sababu desturi ya kitenda-wili ina janja zaidi...

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Latest trust statistics for Africa

Afrobarometer, the most comprehensive survey of African citizens, has just released aggregated data for its 2010-2012 survey. Below is a map I have created to describe the trust differences between countries. Respondents were asked how much they trust their neighbours, and average results are split into a 10-point scale. Burundi came out as the most trusting country, and Botswana the least!







Total (all)
Algeria
Benin
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Cape Verde
Ghana

Not at all
14%
13%
24%
32%
8%
3%
17%
17%
Just a little
26%
28%
29%
32%
13%
7%
25%
31%
Somewhat
33%
37%
29%
25%
33%
34%
42%
29%
A lot
28%
22%
19%
12%
46%
57%
16%
22%
Trust index
5.87
5.60
4.80
3.93
7.23
8.20
5.23
5.17
Kenya
Lesotho
Liberia
Malawi
Mali
Mauritius
Mozamb-ique
Namibia

Not at all
6%
33%
22%
5%
4%
6%
15%
12%
Just a little
32%
21%
39%
10%
12%
23%
26%
22%
Somewhat
39%
21%
21%
27%
30%
49%
23%
36%
A lot
23%
24%
18%
58%
54%
22%
37%
30%
Trust index
5.97
4.50
4.50
7.93
7.80
6.23
6.10
6.13
Nigeria
Sierra Leone
South Africa
Togo
Uganda
Tanzania
Zambia
Zimbabwe

Not at all
27%
13%
14%
32%
8%
3%
15%
11%
Just a little
38%
35%
30%
19%
32%
14%
34%
29%
Somewhat
23%
30%
39%
28%
41%
46%
25%
37%
A lot
12%
22%
17%
20%
19%
37%
26%
23%
Trust index
4.00
5.37
5.30
4.50
5.70
7.23
5.40
5.73

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Dealing with al-Shabaab operations in Kenya is not a question of counter-terrorism, it is a question of Kenya itself



The UK, the US, Germany, Canada and Interpol have begun assisting Kenya’s investigation into the recent attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, where 61 civilians have been killed in a ruthless assault and subsequent hostage situation. This active support comes in the wake of international pledges of assistance to the Kenyan security services while the siege was underway.

With numerous individuals from France, the UK and the US having been caught up in the attack, there is the general impression that terrorism in Kenya is a question of international conflict. While it is true this atrocity has been claimed by al-Shabaab to be a response to the occupation of Kenyan forces in Somalia, the attack on the Westgate shopping centre comes as part of a long line of terrorist activity in the region that predates Kenya’s 2011 invasion of Somalia.

As we try to come to terms with the catastrophe that has befallen Kenya, we need to think hard about the nature of the threat and what the best response might be. This means, first of all, understanding that Kenya and Somalia are intimately connected.

Two percent of the Kenyan population is ethnically Somali—living in, and enjoying, Kenyan citizenship. The “Somali” peoples have been spread across territory that is now Kenyan since 1885 when Ogaden Somalis broke the power of the Orma tribe. The jagged line in the map below shows the part of Kenya heavily populated by those of Somali ethnicity.




This map was featured in a 1964 publication and, at that time, the author was concerned about the role the Northern Frontier District (NFD) of Kenya would have for future conflict. The context he was writing in was the Shifta War, held between 1963 and 1967 between the Kenyan state and ethnic Somalis who sought secession from Kenya so as to join a “greater Somalia”.

While in the 1960s, division between Kenya and Somalia was one of territory, it has now become extra-territorial. However, any such terrorist activity predates Kenya’s 2011 military entrance into Somalia. The earliest case of terrorist activity in Kenya similar to what we have witnessed in these past few days was the bombing of a Jewish-owned hotel on New Year’s Eve in 1980. The Nairobi hotel was targeted by a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. (Note the similarities with the Westgate shopping centre which has also been targeted for being Jewish-owned.)

The most significant terrorist incident in the region, however, was when al-Qaeda conducted twin bombings of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) in 1998. The attack in Tanzania led to 11 deaths and in Kenya to 213 deaths. This brought to the attention of the US administration al-Qaeda’s ability to organise large and devastating operations long before 9/11, and helps explain their ongoing interest in all terrorist developments in East Africa.

The fact of a long list of precedents demonstrates how the sad events we have witnessed in the Westgate shopping centre have not come out of the blue.

The common impression is that al-Shabaab, which is formally allied to al-Qaeda, is acting in response to Kenya’s 2011 invasion. That is certainly what al-Shabaab has been tweeting. The truth is that the Kenyan military entered Somalia only after al-Shabaab militants crossed the border into Kenya to kidnap and attack aid workers of the Dadaab refugee camp. The camp, which is the largest refugee camp in the world, hosts those who have fled violence and famine in Somalia. Kenya acted in response to a developing situation that was brought about by al-Shabaab’s misuse of the southern Somali peoples.

It is important, therefore, to note two things about the current al-Shabaab/al-Qaeda threat. The first is that al-Shabaab’s political justification for the atrocity conducted in the shopping centre carries no weight. In some ways the Westgate attack is similar to the multiple bombings carried out in 2010 by al-Shabaab in Kampala, Uganda, which killed 74. While it may be true that in both the Kampala and Westgate attacks al-Shabaab acted in opposition to each country’s military occupation of Somalia, the reality is that in both cases likely-international targets were chosen. Members of al-Shabaab hold an ideological and strategic commitment to target Israeli, US and European persons. They seek international attention, and support for a supposed global Jihad. Whether Kenya has forces in Somalia or not is an important but insufficient reason the terrorist networks act in this way. Indeed, such is the desire for international attention, al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda care little for whether East African Muslims are killed in the process.

The second point to note is that fighting al-Shabaab is not a question of strengthening counter-terrorism or security personnel. While it is understandable that foreign governments wish to pledge support for Kenya’s security forces, this is not something that can help anything more than short-term reactions to atrocities. The border between Kenya and Somalia is 682 kilometres long, a straight line drawn in the dust. Since even before the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in 1991, Somalis have sought refuge in Kenya and other countries, rendering their population arguably the most extra-territorially networked in East Africa. This has led to both the “ups” of economically booming mini-cities such as Eastleigh in Nairobi, and the “downs” of an ever-enduring refugee crisis. The graph below shows total numbers of refugees in Kenya over a 15-year period according to UNHCR, and the proportion that have come from Somalia. The number of Somali refugees in Kenya has fluctuated just below a quarter of a million, which means it is ludicrous to imagine that tightening border-crossing checkpoints will inhibit a determined terrorist network.


Responding to the terror threat requires a winning of hearts and minds among both Somali refugees and existing Kenyan nationals of Somali ethnicity. Kenya has been independent for 50 years but Somalis have lived in Kenya for 128 years—this is something that must be recognised by both Kenyans and the international community. Experience testifies to how beating local terrorist cells is only achieved when local residents have reason to trust the police. That is, unfortunately, not something most ordinary Kenyans feel they can do, let alone those living in Kenya illegally or as refugees.


The fates of Kenya and Somalia are inextricably tied. Any policies that come out of evaluating the Westgate attack need to remember this. So long as in Somalia there is periodic famine and constant violence, and in Kenya a state that rewards the rich of certain tribes, the threat of political frustrations leading to terrorism will sadly endure from within Kenya’s borders.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Timeline of key events leading to Westgate shopping centre attack in Nairobi

This timeline gives readers a digest of the most important events to have politicised the Kenya-Somalia relationship, leading to the current hostilities between the Kenyan security forces and Al-Shabaab.

1963-1967, Shifta War: Conflict engaged in by ethnic Somalis in North-East Kenya for secession of the Northern Frontier District of Kenya to join a greater Somalia.

1980, Dec 31st, Bombing of Jewish-owned hotel in Nairobi by a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

1991, Jan 26th, Fall of Siad Barre, military dictator of Somalia.

1992-1995, UN intervention into Somalia.

1998, Aug 7th, Bombings of US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) by Al-Qaeda operatives.

2002, Nov 28th, Two simultaneous suicide bombings against Israeli targets in Mombasa, Kenya. A Lebanese group, the Army of Palestine, claim responsibility.

2003, Jun, George Bush announces the East African counter-terrorism initiative.

2006, Dec 30th, Assent given to Kenya’s Refugee Act 2006.

2006, Jul 20th, Ethiopian military enters Somalia to support the country’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

2007, Jan 3rd, Kenya officially closes its border with Somalia due to security concerns over Ethiopia’s intervention.

2007, Jan 5-12th, Battle of Ras Kamboni where the US attack Al-Qaeda suspects in southern Somalia.

2008, Aug, UNHCR declare Kenyan refugee camps full due to lack of new land to expand the camps.

2009, Jan, Ethiopian military withdraws from Somalia.

2009, Feb, Kenyan government grants land for a fourth refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Somali border.

2009, May 28th, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang’ula says Kenya will give Mogadishu all necessary assistance to destroy the Al-Qaeda linked group Al-Shabaab.

2009, May-Jun, Heavy fighting in Mogadishu between Al-Shabaab and TFG.

2009, Aug, Al-Shabaab disperse across southern and central Somalia.

2009, Nov, Media reports of the recruitment of Somalis in refugee camps by the Kenyan government to fight Islamists in Somalia.

2010, Jan 15th, Violent protests in Nairobi over the detention of visiting Jamaican preacher Abdullah-al-Faisal.

2010, Jul 11th, Two bombings in Kampala, Uganda, carried out by Al-Shabaab, killing 74. The bombings occurred during the final of the South African World Cup and constituted the first official strike by Al-Shabaab outside Somalia.

2011, Oct 16th, Start of Operation “Linda Nchi” (“Protect the Country”), a collaborative military initiative of Kenya, with support from Ethiopia, France and the United States, into southern Somalia to repel Al-Shabaab dominance. The operation followed incursions by Al-Shabaab into Kenyan territory to kidnap foreign aid workers.

2012, Sep 28th, Joint military assault by Kenya and Somali National Army on the Al-Shabaab stronghold of Kismayo. Al-Shabaab forces retreat from the city the following day.

2013, Sep 21-24th, Attack on Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi by Al-Shabaab, leading to a subsequent hostage situation and the death of 61 civilians.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Why ramp up internet surveillance in Nigeria?

Wrote an article on the Nigerian government's controversial $40m deal for increased internet and technology security. Written with Nwachukwu Egbunike.

http://freespeechdebate.com/en/2013/07/why-ramp-up-internet-surveillance-in-nigeria/

Monday, 24 June 2013

Levels of trust in Africa

Using Afrobarometer survey data I have created a map comparing levels of trust between African countries. The 20 countries for whom data are available have been shaded lighter if citizens are very trusting and darker if citizens are not trusting. Interestingly, the results do not reflect levels of wealth or poverty (see the table at the bottom). Malawi, for example, has the second lowest GDP per capita and the second highest level of trust!



Data comes from the round 4 Afrobarometer of 2008. Citizens were asked: "How much do you trust each of the following types of people: Other people you know?" They could reply by indicating: 0 = not at all; 1 = just a little; 2 = I trust them somewhat; 3 = I trust them a lot. The map shows the average scores given in each country.


Country
2008 average  trust score
2008 GDP per capita, PPP ($)
1
Senegal
2.2
1,725
2
Malawi
2.1
715
3
Tanzania
2.1
1,208
4
Mali
2.0
930
5
Burkina Faso
1.9
1,086
6
Kenya
1.8
1,440
7
Zimbabwe
1.8
-
8
Zambia
1.8
1,278
9
Ghana
1.8
1,380
10
Namibia
1.7
5,739
11
Mozambique
1.7
759
12
Uganda
1.6
1,079
13
Lesotho
1.6
1,349
14
Cape Verde
1.5
3,240
15
South Africa
1.5
9,604
16
Madagascar
1.5
950
17
Botswana
1.4
12,562
18
Liberia
1.4
422
19
Nigeria
1.3
1,945
20
Benin
1.2
1,428

             GDP per capita PPP is described in constant 2005 international $.