Thursday, January 24, 2008

Race and Politics in the Shadow of Davos 2008 - Germany & Switzerland

Last updated: January 28, 2007

I think one of the most difficult challenges facing today’s bloggers, citizen journalists, and new media producers is keeping pace with breaking news events around the globe and sharing that information with our readers in a timely fashion. I often feel a need to apologize to my readers when I have not published to Jewels in more than a fortnight as I try not to exceed a period of more than 14 days between posts. So I am sorry to not have updated Jewels since the beginning of January but hey, this month got off to a beast of a start into the New Year 2008 and we still have a week to go before the month is over.

I’ve decided to try something new at the blog to help remedy this continuity problem. I’m starting an ‘End of the Month Roundup’ of news articles and blog posts that have caught my attention starting with today and working backwards to the 5th of January. I shall begin with a focus on how the German press is covering various international and national news stories, including a heated political campaign in the central German state of Hessen (Hesse) that would put the “race question debate” of the Clinton vs. Obama U.S. presidential campaign to shame. More of my ‘End of the Month Roundup’ posts for January 2008 shall follow over the next couple of days (couple of days = at least a week). I will spare readers my usual lengthy commentary & analysis, suggesting that you dig right into these juicy news stories that follow and enjoy.

Question: What hot button European issue will most likely not be on the agenda at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008 in Davos, Switzerland?

Answer: Germany’s Political Scene in 2008. From alleged racist campaigning in Germany to the collapse of world financial markets to NPD (Germany's neo-Nazi political party) economic woes to bitter struggles with immigration and integration. Spiegel International Online, the English language version of the popular German news magazine Der Spiegel, has it covered.

Spiegel editor David Crossland, an ‘Auslander’ (foreigner) who was born in Bonn, Germany to British parents and has spent most of his professional life as a journalist in Germany describes the following in the opening paragraphs of his excellent op-ed “Germany’s Homegrown Intolerance” published to the site on January 18th:

"Germany is not a country of immigration," Roland Koch said this month as he sought to revive his campaign for a third term as governor of the western state of Hesse by calling for a crackdown on "criminal young foreigners."

The statement, borrowed from former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, is untrue. Some 15 million people, or just under a fifth of the German population, have an immigrant background. The real message is: "We don't want Germany to be a country of immigration."

"Foreigners" -- they're often called that here even if they and their parents were born here -- get that message loud and clear in their everyday lives. That steely look of disapproval in shops when a customer expresses an enquiry in accented or broken German. The difficulty of finding an apartment to rent if your surname isn't Müller.

Just speaking English can get you into trouble on a Berlin S-Bahn train. A number of youths, presumably of far-right persuasion, glared at me during a recent ride through the east of the city. One muttered "piece of shit," while another shouted "nigger!" before rushing out -- and I'm white.

I'd hate to be living here if I had brown or black skin. Statistics on racist assaults prove that parts of eastern Germany are no-go zones for ethnic minorities. (Read more…)

The Spiegel article “German Xenophobia As Our Readers See It” is interesting in that it is one of those rare instances where I have seen a leading German news magazine publish extensive reader feedback on this sensitive subject, in English. Several countries are struggling with these same issues today and Germany is no different albeit political, business, and high-profile public figures here are loathe to admit that it is a very BIG problem for lots of people living and working in the country, foreigners and Germans alike. Here is the comment from an Asian professional working in the southern German State of Bavaria:

Dear Spiegel Online,

I am an Asian scientist working in Munich. I lived in China and Singapore before I moved to Germany. I was offered a pre-doctorate position in Singapore from a private research institution with full pay before I came to Germany. But I still decided to look for a position in Germany, because I wanted to live in Europe. The major motives for such a move were firstly, the freedom of expression that European countries offer; secondly, the superior infrastructure of the German research system; and thirdly, the European values of tolerance and integration.

I was not disappointed at all when it comes to freedom of expression and the infrastructure in Germany. But I was utterly shocked when it comes to integration and tolerance. I never suffered explicit racist attacks like those which happened in eastern Germany. But I was exposed to a subtle yet stubborn kind of racism on a daily basis. This mostly takes the form of social exclusion -- I always felt that I am not and will never be allowed to become a normal member of society, despite holding a promising academic record and decent linguistic skills.

In the beginning, I regarded social rejection as a result of linguistic insufficiency. Therefore I spent a large amount of time improving my German. At the moment my spoken German is close to fluency. But I was completely disappointed about the results of my effort. Instead of feeling more integrated in the society, I actually discovered even more xenophobia around me, because now I understand what is written in newspapers and on street placards. Also, I became aware that people throw me angry looks when I mispronounce German, or give me suspicious looks on the U-Bahn. It is a constant battle on my side to handle such things. I am determined to move to another country once I finish my studies. It is hard to leave such a good working environment behind, but I see no hope for real integration here.

I have spoken with other colleagues of mine, who are either foreigners or have a foreign background. Many of them suffer the same kind of social rejection. There are very few things we can do except opting to leave the country when we finish our training. But it is detrimental to the intellectual progress and economic growth of Germany when even people of higher education fail to integrate into the society.

I am not saying that there should be any kind of favoritism towards intellectual foreigners, or that there should be immediate and absolute equality among Germans and foreigners. What I hope to see is more cultural sensitivity and inter-cultural communication. People should start to understand that foreigners are assets, not threats. And the only ones who can push for cultural sensitivity and exchange on a large scale are the mass media and the government.

-- Name withheld

Here is a comment from Page 8 of the article (there are 9 web pages of readers comments) where a person from India describes her experiences in East Germany (Cottbus and Berlin):

Dear Spiegel Online,

I read Mr. Crossland's opinion piece and I do agree that Germany needs to change its attitude towards foreigners.

I am a student from India currently pursuing my Master's here. I have been living in Germany for two years now -- 11 months in Cottbus, and the rest in Berlin. While it is true that I have met some wonderful human beings in my two years here, it is also true that by and large we, the foreigners, are regarded way too suspiciously.

Fortunately for me, despite my dark skin, I have not faced any pushed-into-a-corner kind of incidents that I keep hearing about. That may be because I take things in my stride, go out of my way not to offend people or simply because I choose to ignore things most of the time. But I experienced a couple of incidents when the ugly face of racism was bared to one and all. And every time I am shocked anew before a helpless rage takes over me, which I need to glaze over with indifference for my own survival here.

Once in Cottbus, during a hip-hop night at a student bar, which of course attracted the black students from our university, someone threw a stink bomb inside the bar forcing all of us to run towards the exit, eyes hurting and throats constricting due to the nauseous gas. While we were waiting outside for the smell to diffuse, a man with his hood up ran up the stairs, screamed "Ausländer raus!" ("Foreigners out!") and ran away before we could react.

And the other time, a club in Prenzalauer Berg, the happening district of Berlin, denied us entrance because there were three black people amongst us (well, four if you count me). We were just told that they have the right to deny anyone they want and that the club was filled to its capacity. The funny part is they did not even try to wait for us to get out of sight before they let others in.

It would be easy to handle if it is only a certain bunch of people -- say the neo-Nazis -- out to get you. What makes it difficult is the fact that the average people that you meet have so many prejudices against you that everything you do, even before you do it, is written on the debit side of the balance sheet. If my friend, who is white, crosses a street when the light is red, she is in a hurry. And if I do the same, someone is waiting to say "schwarze Schlampe" ("black slut") or something similar.

And you would think that in a university, things might be different. But oh no! It gets worse there. You have to start battling prejudices from the word go. If you come here from the developing world, you are here to squander the precious resources of Germany, while all along you want to stay on in the country by hook or crook.

Don't get me wrong. I am not trying to say I have nothing but bad experiences in Germany. I have had times when the unexpected generosity and helpfulness of strangers reduced me almost to tears. To be fair, perhaps, things are not so different anywhere else.

I came here with an open mind and I see what I see. Tomorrow I will leave because I can afford to. But I see around me a lot of people who will hang on, despite racism, despite prejudices, despite everything. And if something is not done right now, I am afraid it may be too late. History already showed us what could happen if we let malcontent grow.

-- Name withheld --
Read more at Spiegel Online (International edition).

Update Jan 27th: The proverbial poop has hit the fan over at Der Spiegel (Spiegel Online) re: David Crossland's article and the red hot reader feedback. Checkout the January 25th update article "More Readers Weigh-In: How Xenophobic is Germany?"

Update Jan 28th: The elections for the German states of Hessen (Hesse) and Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) were completed yesterday and the race for Ministerpräsident (Governor) of the State of Hesse ended in a literal dead heat. The strategy of using of the "racial/ethnic card" in the campaign by Hessen's two-term serving governor Roland Koch has blown-up in his face and will most likely (hopefully) cost him the election.

Germany's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lost more than 12% of the votes garnered in the 2003 state elections allowing the Social Democratic Party (SPD) to pull within 0.1%. Neither party has an absolute majority and a coalition with their traditional political partners (the liberals - FDP, The Greens - Die Grünen) is not enough to give either party a clear victory. Hessen, the financial capital of Deutschland (think Frankfurt and Wiesbaden), is in political chaos AND German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Grand Coalition government over in Berlin is beginning to wobble badly. Read more about the post-election coverage at Spiegel Online:

Blow for Merkel: Kock Slumps in Hesse Vote as Immigration Campaign Backfires, 01/28/08
The World from Berlin: Koch Gets Face Slapped for 'Nasty' Campaign, 10/28/08
Angela Merkel 'Stands by Her Man' in Hessen: Merkel Defends Battered Koch, 10/28/08

Here is an excerpt from an opinion piece titled "The End of Fear and Loathing in Hesse" by Charles Hawley:

When two young men with foreign heritage (foreign = Greek and Turkish) beat up a German man in a Munich subway just before Christmas, he jumped on it. He immediately said that Germany has "too many criminal young foreigners." He also said that Germany is "not a country of immigration" -- even though his party had just split with its past denial and included the sentence "Germany is a country of integration" in its platform at the beginning of December. Koch also suggested that foreigners learn that "the slaughtering (of animals) in the kitchen ... runs counter to our principles."

It was a classic CDU campaign, only the most recent in a long history of such over-the-top, anti-foreigner campaigns the party has used in the past to draw attention and votes. Helmut Kohl did it during his very first campaign for chancellor back in 1982, promising to offer generous incentives to encourage foreigners -- many of them imported in previous decades to work in Germany's booming factories -- to go home. Koch's 1999 signature campaign was followed soon after with a debate on "Leitkultur" or "leading culture." Many of the CDU contributions to that debate made it clear that foreigners were at best to be tolerated in Germany, but certainly not to be welcomed.

Read the complete editorial "The End of Fear and Loathing in Hesse" at Spiegle Online.

Blog author's note: italics, parenthesis, and bold emphasis added to some original text in article excerpts quoted above

Related articles and resources for German politics

Critique Against Racist Campaign: German Immigrants have had Enough 01/10/08
Xenophobic Campaign Backfires: Voters Shunning Roland Koch, 01/18/08
Internal NPD Documents Reveal Chaos: Germany’s Right Wing Extremists in Disarray, 01/24/08
Opinion: Germany’s Homegrown Intolerance by David Crossland, 01/18/08
As Welcome As Satan in Heaven: German Xenophobia As Our Readers See It, 01/22/08

Spiegel Online category – German Politics
Spiegel TV Online (German language only)

Switzerland’s Political Scene: Some of my more astute readers may remember that the country of Switzerland had a similar political campaign in October 2007 that was fueled by racial, ethnic, and immigration fear-mongering. With all the attention focused on the World Economic Forum 2008 in Davos, Switzerland one has to wonder if the rising tide of racism and xenophobia in Europe will be discussed. I doubt it. Below are listed a few press articles about Switzerland’s ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ national elections.

Update January 25th:

Koluki (Ana) who authored the essay in my Dec 2007 post about the EU/Africa Summit in Lisbon has drawn my attention to a very important development in the Swiss national elections of 2007 that I had obviously missed.

Ricardo Lumengo, an Angolan immigrant who entered Switzerland as an asylum seeker in 1982, is the first ever black African to be elected to the Swiss Parliament (Swiss National Council). Lumengo, who studied law at the University of Fribourg and is a member of the Social Democratic Party (SP), is the MP representing the town of Biel near the Swiss capital city of Bern.

After a crushing defeat of the Social Democratic Party in the October 2007 elections by the right-wing nationalist Swiss People’s Party (SVP), Mr. Lumengo had this to say to the Sunday Times Online (UK) shortly after his victory:

There is tension in the air says first black MP as Swiss take a turn to the right”(Excerpts)

“We do not like it that people abroad see us as against foreigners. I am proof that not all of Switzerland thinks like that,” said Mr Lumengo, who trained as a lawyer in Switzerland and completed the tests for his Swiss passport in 1997.

Despite a disastrous showing by his left-wing party, which lost 9 of its 43 seats, Mr Lumengo became an MP for Biel, a bilingual town also known as Bienne, near the capital, Berne. He said: “I have had a good experience in Switzerland for 25 years but the situation has changed and I feel I would have difficulties if I came now. There is a tension, a conflict now between foreigners and Swiss. Other politicians are talking irresponsibly by suggesting that foreigners are responsible for all the country’s problems. We, the Socialists, are worried that this is the wrong direction for the country.”

Mr Lumengo said he hoped that his election as an MP would be “a symbol showing many things”, including that Switzerland was not a racist country. “There are people who are building another Switzerland, a Switzerland of tolerance and a Switzerland of dialogue,” he said.

The Times Online reports after speaking with the right-wing Swiss Peoples Party President Ueli Maurer:

But Ueli Maurer, the SVP president, said that its increased support gave the party approval to rule out talks on joining or even cooperating further with the European Union. “The idea of EU accession should at last get out of everyone’s heads,” Mr Maurer said. The first casualty is likely to be an attempt by the EU to persuade Switzerland to raise its favourably low corporation tax levels. An SVP spokesman said: “We think that the election was confirmation that the Swiss people do not want to join the EU.”

Read the full article of October 23rd at the Times Online. The Times article is in stark contrast to the post “Do the election results show the Swiss have become racist?” published at Pajamas Media last October. The article was written by Robert Mayer of the popular political blog Publius Pundit.

The list below has been updated to include articles and blog posts about Ricardo Lumengo including a link to his personal website (French, German), video interview by the Swiss TV network SF1 and an interview published to

Ricardo Lumengo is a young, promising African-European politician who will be working hard to make positive changes in a country that seems to be desperately clinging on to its “traditional ways” in an evolving and expanding Europe. He will be the “Black Sheep” to watch south of the German/Swiss border. We can only hope that Berlin will be paying close attention too.

Related articles and resources for Swiss politics

The Independent (UK)
Switzerland: Europe’s Heart of Darkness? 09/07/07

The New York Times
Immigration, Black Sheep, and Swiss Rage – 10/08/07

The Times Online (UK)
‘Black sheep’ cartoon ignites bitter row on racism before Swiss elections, 10/10/07
Postcard from Pomy – Bye-Bye Black Sheep, 09/21/07

The Economist – Certain Ideas of Europe blog
The black sheep of Swiss politics, 09/03/07 (Switzerland)
Swiss People’s Party is accused of racist campaign, 08/30/07

Spiegel Online International edition (Germany)
White Sheep, Black Sheep: Bringing rancor to a Swiss Election, 10/17/07

Related articles and resources about Swiss MP Ricardo Lumengo

Swiss MP Ricardo Lumengo’s personal website (French, German)

Bio for Ricardo Lumengo at the Swiss Federal Assembly (Parliament)

The Times Online (UK)
There is tension in the air says first black MP as Swiss take a turn to the right”, 10/23/07

Reuters Africa
Former refugee becomes first black Swiss MP, 12/03/07

SF1 (Swiss TV network) – Archive Sendung von 22.19.2007
Von Angola ins Bundeshaus (see video report at bottom of webpage)
“Black Sheep” in Swiss parliament (streaming media Real), 11/12/07

Africa Link Switzerland – Dec 2007 newsletter
Ricardo Lumengo makes history from Asylum House to House of Assembly

First Black Citizen Elected to Swiss Parliament is Angolan, 10/24/07

Swiss Reviews
Swiss Voters Elected “Black Sheep”, 10/28/07

Pajamas Media – guest post by Robert Mayer
“Do the election results show the Swiss have become racist?”, 10/22/07

Politics of Switzerland

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Kenya: Country in meltdown toward anarchy after scam national elections

Not even a scant four weeks after the historic EU-Africa Summit 2007 in Lisbon that held so much promise for a “new chapter in European-African relations” the world has been pummeled with sensational headlines about “Kenya on the Brink” and photos and video reports showing machete-wielding, bloodthirsty mobs of African men and boys out for revenge against enemy tribes. This is no way to welcome in the New Year 2008 or express one’s outrage over another bungled democratic election in Africa. One question that I keep asking myself over and over is, “Didn’t anyone see this outbreak of post-election violence coming and if they did, why wasn’t the Kenyan government working together with the leaders of the African Union prepared beforehand to act swiftly to help resolve election disputes in order to save lives?”

When I first saw TV news reports about the sporadic looting and violence and the government’s clampdown on press and media freedom in East Africa’s “model nation” I said to myself, “OK, vote-rigging, claims of election fraud and other irregularities are to be expected in a nation that is so rife with corruption and graft and political cronyism.” But I think that no one expected the violence to expand so rapidly across this vast country and according to news reports from reliable sources like Reuters, CNN, and the BBC News the violence has taken a very ugly turn toward ethnic cleansing and mob rule, especially in the Rift Valley region.

People who regularly follow news about Kenyan politics understand that vote rigging is par for the course in Kenyan elections. My GOTO website during a government clampdown on press freedom during a crisis is of course Global Voices Online at Harvard University Law School. I was not the only one smart enough to check with Global Voices for the ‘beat from the street’ as evidenced in this post ‘Kenya on the Brink’ by Andrew Sullivan, a veteran journalist and avid blog author presently writing "The Daily Dish" column for The

Global Voices Africa editior Ndesanjo Macha has been all over the story in Kenya from the start, researching and aggregating the best of the breaking news articles and blog posts written and published by blog authors and citizen journalists from Kenya and around the globe. Veteran Kenyan blog authors and TED Global fellows Ory Okolloh (Kenyan Pundit) and Daudi Were (Mental Acrobatics), and the renowned author ‘M’ of tHiNkEr’S rOoM, a co-founder along with Ory Okolloh of the popular Kenyan politics watchdog website Mzalendo: Eye on Kenyan Parliament have been keeping the blogosphere up-to-date with breaking news and insights into the crisis that are unavailable in much of the international press and media reports. A list featuring the excellent work of these important, world-class blog authors and editors can be found in the Related Articles section at the end of this post.

Sorious Samura’s latest documentary “Living with Corruption” which aired on CNN International this past December 2007 revealed the suffering of Nairobi’s million+ Kibera slum dwellers (link to Kibera photos) under the burden of endemic corruption from the bottom up AND the top down___ from slum dwelling landlords overseeing the building of flimsy shacks to tribal chiefs and local government officials and civil servants to top Kenyan government parliamentarians___ all ‘on the take’ and taking from poor African people who literally have nothing to spare.

People’s frustration over generations of poverty with no end in sight coupled with the obvious manipulation by the ruling regime of the presidential election results lay at the heart of this violence we see on our TV news and read about in the world press. The intractable position taken by Kenyan President Kibaki toward the election results and the stubbornness of the opposition party leader Raila Obinga to talk and negotiate with the government makes these two leaders as responsible for the deaths and injuries suffered by 100’s of innocent people as the machete-wielding mobs roaming the streets and countryside looking for blood, murder, and mayhem.

Note: read the transcript from CNN’s Inside Africa host Femi Oke’s interview with filmmaker Sorious Samura about the making of the documentary “Living with Corruption” and visit the Insight News TV website for more information.

When I read the news reports about vicious ethnic clashes breaking out across the country and that a church in Eldoret, Kenya full of frightened women and children had been torched by an angry mob the full weight of this crisis hit home. I asked myself, “What the ---- kind of human being would burn a church filled with frightened, innocent women and children?! How can you justify something like that to yourself, your leader (political or military), your god, or whoever you hold in high esteem?”

This single act of brutal inhumane behavior by marauding gangs and ad-hoc “citizen militias” reduces the perpetrators to the level of the reviled Janjaweed who attack on camel and horseback rampaging and burning towns and villages in Darfur. The burning alive of frightened women and children in Eldoret is equal to the atrocities carried out by the Satan’s brew of rebel militias, government soldiers, and bandits who have terrorized innocent villagers and townspeople of the Eastern Congo for the past 10 years. What happened to those women and children at that church in Eldoret, Kenya unfortunately does not fit the legal description of a crime against humanity, but the Kenyan government authorities along with the AU and the international community must do everything in their power, even in the midst of this political and humanitarian meltdown in Kenya, to bring the perpetrators of these horrible crimes to justice… or there will never be a lasting peace in Kenya.

Many, many people around the globe have been so dismayed by the images of ethnic violence and murder engulfing Kenya since the announcement of the bogus presidential election results. But fortunately voices of reason and calm are slowly beginning to emerge in the country, replacing the threatening, frightening images that have dominated world news headlines since the Christmas holidays. International and national news networks (CNNI, BBC World, Aljazeera, Germany’s ARD and ZDF) have aired important interviews with world figures such as the Nobel Laureates Dr. Wangari Maathai of Kenya and Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Bishop Tutu’s meeting on Thursday with Odinga and his scheduled meeting today with President Kibaki is beginning to yield some results. US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer is on her way to the country to help encourage a peaceful resolution to the political crisis.

I was not surprised that the Kibaki government first rejected the offers of outside help, including the services of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a member of the newly formed Council of Global Elders. The African Union President and President of Ghana, John Kufuor, as of this writing has not received an official invitation from President Kibaki to travel to Nairobi and offer his services. One must realize that the President of the African Union has been told to “butt out of Kenya’s internal affairs”. This is in sharp contrast to the strong public show of pan-African unity and cooperation by African leaders that was on display during trade talks at the EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon.

A really great background editorial on the roots of the present crisis in Kenya is available at the Thinker’s Room blog. “M” writes in his post “What Really Happened: Part 1 – Genesis":

Genesis of a Problem

The problem (the nature of which I will get to last) began almost 5 years ago, in the hastily cobbled together amalgamation of political parties of NAK and LDP that was called the National Rainbow coalition. Analysis of the voting patterns showed a country that was solidly united behind what they believed to be the path to a change of destiny. Raila Odinga went to Central Kenya and was wildly cheered, more than most of the Central Province leaders. Kibaki went to Nyanza and was wildly cheered. People by and large ignored tribe and voted for change.

Cracks immerged shortly after the new cabinet was named. The LDP felt that they had been shortchanged, in contravention of a pre-election Memorandum of Understanding, the infamous MOU.

Now much hubbub was made over the MOU. People loudly wondered what the contents were. People contended that such documents made behind closed doors and out of the public eye were not binding. Such sentiments, in my opinion, are the height of naiveté. The fact of the matter is that in politics lobbying and dealing are a part of the game. These things are done well in advance in privacy away from you and me. They are done EVERYWHERE and not just Kenya. It is naive to presume that you have a say in the distribution of cabinet positions. You have none. Get used to it.

But I digress.

The LDP felt strongly that it had been shortchanged on two fronts: consultation in the naming of the cabinet and in the number of seats allocated to them. They actually held a press conference to protest the developments. The public was largely hostile to these attempts to besmirch their rosy-eyed view of Canaan.

The LDP may have kept quiet subsequently but they did not forget what they perceived to be a betrayal.

The second problem was entirely of the incoming President’s making. Upon being sworn in he sacked large numbers of civil servants who happened to be principally from the Rift Valley. Many were dispossessed of benefits like cheap housing. Many were threatened with court, and a good number were charged in court. Ministers like Kiraitu Murungi very arrogantly demanded that President Moi go herd goats and watch how government was run.

This very fact I believe is what cost Kibaki support in the Rift Valley. The people were not about to forget what they felt were injustices done to their sons and daughters. Things were not helped by the last minute marriage of convenience between Moi and Kibaki. The people of the Rift were even more resentful of what they perceived to be a turncoat. People vividly recall the indignities Moi was subjected to on his exit, and the only way that he and Kibaki could be reading from the same script was if Moi had been promised something that he was not about to share with them.

The third problem begins with the fact that it was perceived that a disproportionate percentage of the Cabinet were from Central and Eastern Kenya, principally the Kikuyu and the Meru. A similar situation seemed to present itself in senior civil servant positions, where it was felt a disproportionately large number of the numbers [sic] were from a single region. If you recall there were email forwards enumerating senior positions staffed by members from a single part of Kenya. The Government hastily prepared another one listing positions staffed by people from other communities but it is always about perception. The fact-of-the-matter is that percentages based on regions favour one section of Kenya.

This led to the birth of the notorious term, “Mount Kenya Mafia”, who were perceived to be in control of the affairs of the country. Kibaki then, and still projects a hands-off approach that verges on lethargy. This very perception of apathy actively cultivated the notion that there were a few friends and associates of Kibaki that were actually running the country, and not him.

This is the source of the infamous sentiment “It is not Kibaki. Kibaki is a good man. Its those around him that are the problem”.

A sentiment, I’m afraid, that does not wash because you can delegate duties but not responsibilities.

Bitter complaints rose from cabinet ministers protesting being denied access to the president.

The fourth problem was the sheer arrogance with which some Cabinet ministers conducted themselves. Top of the list were ministers like Christopher Murungaru, Kiraitu Murungi, John Michuki whose pronouncements on and off the camera raised the ire of the public, especially during the ill fated referendum campaigns.

The fifth problem revolved around the corruption scandals that plagued the Kibaki administration, and what, it was perceived, was its subsequent cover up. Ministers who were forced out of office by the allegations somehow ended up back in their posts.

Read more of “What Really Happened: Genesis Part 1” at Thinker’s Room…
End of Excerpt

Blog Author’s Note: some minor grammatical edits have been made to the original text above from tHiNkEr'S rOoM

Related articles and other online resources

Thinkers Room
Kenya Is Burning. Stop the Fighting!, (01/04/08)
What Really Happened: Part 2 - Exodus, (01/03/08)
What Really Happened: Part 1 - Genesis, (01/01/08)
I Cry, My Country Has Been Robbed, (12/31/07)

Mzalendo: Eye on Kenyan Parliament
(Kenyan politics watchdog and community participation site)

Kenyan Pundit
Update on Burnt Forest & Eldoret Jan 1st (01/01/08)
Post Media Blackout Update Jan 2nd (01/02/08)
Kenya Elections 2007 (category archive)

Mental Acrobatics
Uncertainty Grips Kenya – Kenya Election 2007, (12/31/07)
Something is Not Right – Kenya Election 2007, (12/30/07)
Citizen Media – Kenyan Election 2007 (12/30/07)

Global Voices Online
Kenya: State of Democracy in Photos by Joseph Karoki, (01/02/08)
(Warning: post links to disturbing images of the violence and the victims)
Kenya: Do Not Doubt the Power of the Internet in Africa, (01/02/08)

African Loft
Kenyan Elections: What bloggers are saying, (12/31/07)
Kenya: Unpacking Election Rigging Allegations, (01/03/08)
Tutu Joins Church Efforts to Resolve Polls Crisis, (01/03/08)
What is Going On in Our Country? by Daudi Were, (01/03/08)
Western Media Focus on ‘Media Savvy’ Election, (12/24/07)
Kenya/Kenyan Elections special feature (news, discussion groups)
The brand new blog - Kenya

Reuters Africa, Reuters AlertNet
Kenya Government Says Ready for New Vote If Court Orders, (01/04/08)
Refugees Cry Genocide as Kenya’s Rift Valley Erupts, (01/03/08)

The New York Times & NYT blog "On the Ground" by Nicholas D. Kristof
Kenya Isn't Rwanda by Josh Ruxin, (01/04/08)
Kenya, Known for Its Stability, Topples into Post-Election Chaos, (01/03/08)
The African Front by Joshua Hammer, (12/23/07)
(A Christian incumbent vs. a Muslim candidate in a northern Kenya constituency)

The Washington Post
Violence Grows After Kenyan Elections (full coverage special feature)
U.S. Envoy Heads to Kenya as Focus Shifts to Diplomacy, (01/04/08)

The – Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish
Kenya on the Brink, (12/31/07)

BBC News
Kenya Violence: University Under Siege, (01/04/08)
Diplomacy Falters as Kenya Burns, (01/04/08)
Can Tutu Heal Kenya’s Wounds, (01/04/08)
Kenyan Bloggers at Home and Abroad, (01/04/08)
Kenya Chaos Hits Uganda Economy, (01/04/08)

Guardian Unlimited (UK)
Simon Jenkins: Britain Has Too Many Flaws to Lecture about Democracy, (01/02/08)
Kenya at Breaking Point: Dozens Killed as Mob Sets Fire to Church, (01/02/08)
An African Exception and Role Model, (12/31/07)
Photo Essay: Guardian photographer David Leven in Nairobi’s Kibera slums

The Times Online (UK)
A Bitter New Chapter for Kenya, (01/01/08)

Spiegel Online International (Germany)
Chaos in Kenya
Tribal Massacres Echo Rwandan Genocide, (01/02/08)
Violence Flairs after Disputed Elections
Over 120 Killed in Kenya Clashes, (12/31/07)

Insight News TV (UK)
Sorious Samura’s documentary film “Living with Corruption”
Opposition Calls Off Kenya Rally, (01/03/08)
Kenya on the Verge of a Showdown, (01/02/08)
Quotes of the day Thursday Jan 3, 2008 (Kenyan vice-President Moody Awori)
A Massacre in a Kenyan Church, (01/01/08)
Will Kenya’s Vote Lead to a Tribal War? (12/31/07)

CNN International
Odinga’s Party Postpones Kenya March, (01/03/08)
CNN/ Topics: Kenya (news and video about Kenya)
Interview with documentary filmmaker Sorious Samura (Inside Africa transcript 12/08/07))

Voice of America News
Britain Calls for End to Kenyan Violence, (01/02/08)
US Laments Kenya’s Election Irregularities, Appeals for Calm, (12/31/07)

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