Kenyan activists from the Red Vest Movement marched in central Nairobi on April 30, 2018, to protest government corruption. (Daniel Irungu/EPA-EFE/REX)

On May 6, Kenyan authorities arrested and then released Boniface Mwangi, a Kenyan photographer and political activist, on suspicion of fomenting a “revolution” against the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The previous week, news reports said Mwangi participated in the “Beyond Zero Corruption” campaign in Nairobi (also dubbed the Red Vest Movement) — an initiative highlighting the poor state of Kenya’s economy, rampant corruption and entrenched impunity in the public sector.

Mwangi’s arrest is symptomatic of a nagging unease in the Kenyatta administration about mass protests. The flagging economy — marked by job cuts and corporate losses — along with poor policy choices and public sector corruption, have eroded popular support for Kenyatta over the past year.…  Seguir leyendo »

La oposición al aborto es tan intensa que incluso cuando las mujeres tienen el derecho legal de interrumpir su embarazo, puede ser extremadamente difícil acceder a los servicios necesarios para ejercer dicho derecho. Sin embargo, peor que aquello, es el hecho que los opositores al aborto tienden a ignorar las fallas que, inicialmente, conducen a las mujeres hasta el punto en que buscan un aborto.

Desde un punto de vista moral, se debe defender firmemente el respeto a la libertad personal y autonomía corporal de una mujer, en lugar de obligarla a poner en riesgo su salud o su bienestar al llevar a término un embarazo no deseado o peligroso.…  Seguir leyendo »

A member of the Kenyan Defence Forces stands guard at the Garissa University campus after an attack by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab gunmen in Garissa on 2 April 2015. CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

On 2 April 2015, four gunmen belonging to Al-Shabaab, the Somalia-based affiliate of al-Qaeda, began shooting on the campus of Garissa University College, the only major institution of higher learning in north-eastern Kenya. By the time Kenyan special forces ended the 15-hour siege, the militants had killed 148 students, most of them Christians, and injured more than 79. This particularly deadly assault four years ago attracted considerable media attention – and rightly so. Yet what is arguably Al-Shabaab’s most insidious attack on peace and security in Kenya continues to this day, beneath the media’s radar, in less spectacular forms.

Since 2015, Al-Shabaab has conducted over one hundred small-scale assaults in the north east, killing dozens of soldiers and police, mostly with roadside bombs.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters hold banners during a demonstration against the suspension of governorship elections in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, on March 11. (Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images)

In the run-up to the recent elections in Nigeria, an article in Quartz Africa declared that “it’s become much harder to rig elections in Nigeria thanks to technology.” Looking on from about 3,000 miles away, Kenyans would be excused for stifling a laugh. The two countries share a history of electoral malpractice, and technology had been hailed as a guarantor of the credibility and integrity of the election in Kenya as well. The reality, however, turned out to be quite different. As the dust settles on Nigeria’s elections amid reports of technology failures and violence, it is clear that digital elections are no panacea.…  Seguir leyendo »

Shabaabs Nairobi attack is a reminder that tit for tat terror never succeeds Mukoma wa Ngugi

A few nights ago I had a nightmare – my family and I were living on the seventh floor of an apartment building in a US city that I could not name. It was a hot summer night. Through our open windows we heard shouts of: “Go back to where you come from!” This was followed by a commotion, and then gunshots and then death grunts. My daughter was standing by the window looking outside – I crawled to her yelling at her to get on her stomach – and then I woke up relieved.

And then I read about the attack in Nairobi at the Dusit hotel in which at least 14 people were killed.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Tuesday afternoon, terrorists stormed DusitD2, an upscale hotel and office complex in the heart of Nairobi. Within an hour, security forces had cordoned off the area, evacuated nearby buildings and launched an operation to confront the attackers and rescue people.

Given the security forces’ performance during previous attacks, this was a huge improvement. Five years ago, during a terrorist attack on the Westgate Mall, it was a different story. As described in a reconstruction by Tristan McConnell, by the time security agencies organized a response, “most of those who would escape had already escaped; most of those who would be wounded had already been struck; and most of those who would die were already dead.”

Sadly, the government’s communications efforts this time did not match its security response.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pedaleando hacia el éxito en Kenia

¿Cómo iba a la escuela cuando era joven? Para muchos en los países desarrollados, la respuesta es un medio de transporte que se da por supuesto (aunque subestimado), como un bus escolar o el coche de los padres. Sin embargo, el transporte fiable no es algo que los estudiantes de Kenia pueden dar por hecho. Para los keniatas, el transporte a la escuela es, muy literalmente, nuestro pasaje a un futuro mejor.

En 2003, cuando en Kenia se garantizó el libre acceso a la escuela primaria, la matriculación total subió al 104%. Pero este aumento radical en el acceso no vino acompañado de una ampliación de las instalaciones escolares.…  Seguir leyendo »

Residents of Eastleigh, a Nairobi neighborhood known for its densely Somali population, on Jan. 18, 2010. (Simon Maina/AFP via Getty Images)

Pirates. Terrorists. Refugees. There is a long history of negative portrayals of Somalis around the world.

Consider, for example, Kenyan Somalis. According to the most recent census, there are 2.4 million Somalis in Kenya (out of an overall population of 38.6 million in the country). Somalis have lived in Kenya since before colonial rule. By the early 20th century, Somali-speaking nomads established themselves in what is now northeastern Kenya. Still, when you read about Kenyan Somalis in major media outlets, they are portrayed as “others” or as strangers in stories about terrorism or refugees.

How can Somalis be both citizens and strangers in Kenya?…  Seguir leyendo »

Beatrice Anyango, center, leads her grandson, Eugene, 3, by the hand as they walk from school to their home in Kibra, the largest slum in Nairobi. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Over the past few days, tens of thousands of Kenyans have been made homeless. This is not the result of some terrible natural disaster, but rather, the deliberate action of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration. Nearly 10,000 have been kicked out of their homes in the Mau forest in a bid to protect the country’s largest water tower. Another community of 30,000 in Kibra, the largest slum in Nairobi, saw their homes, hospitals, shops and schools flattened to make room for a road.

“Development” and “conservation” have always been pretexts for displacing Kenyans. One-hundred twenty years ago, the so-called Lunatic Line was built.…  Seguir leyendo »

Elizabeth Sizar, a new arrival from South Sudan and mother of two, poses for a photo with her youngest son in front of their home in the Kalobeyei settlement. (Samuel Otieno/UNHCR)

Every June 20, on World Refugee Day, the headlines invariably focus on numbers. But numbers are not the issue; only about 0.3 percent of the world’s population are refugees. The real challenge comes from unequal geographical concentration.

Most refugees will never come to the United States or Europe. Around 85 percent end up in low and middle-income countries like Lebanon, Pakistan and Uganda, and just 10 such countries host 60 percent of the world’s refugees. This means refugee protection is primarily a developing world issue, and there is a lack of global responsibility-sharing.

Refugees stay in these safe haven countries for decades.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una pérdida para la democracia keniana

El 27 de marzo, ocho columnistas renunciaron al periódico Nation, de Nation Media Group, por falta de independencia editorial. Para el mayor rotativo de Kenia, este éxodo de brillantes talentos fue el último golpe a una reputación ya manchada. En los últimos meses ya ha sufrido una serie de episodios vergonzantes, como despidos masivos y de alto perfil en su compañía matriz, y acusaciones de interferencia estatal en el proceso editorial.

Pero las renuncias fueron más que otra denuncia a una institución antes merecedora de alabanzas: representaron un recordatorio de que los medios de comunicación siguen siendo un potente actor en la joven democracia de Kenia.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man in a control center of the NTV channel, which was shut down by the Kenyan government because of coverage of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s symbolic presidential inauguration, at the Nation group media building in Nairobi on Feb. 1. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Imagine paying over $900 to a government agency just to be allowed to blog.

This is what the government of Tanzania wants to require of its citizens. The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority has given all online content providers until May 5 to submit massive amounts of documentation to earn state approval for what the Internet has always given for free. If you can’t pony up details of shareholders, share capital, citizenship of owners, staff qualifications, training programs and a tax clearance certificate, you risk a fine of at least $2,200 and/or a year-long prison sentence. While the rest of the progressive world is considering blockchain technology or investing in robots, Tanzania’s big idea this year is licensing bloggers.…  Seguir leyendo »

No one company should have the power to manipulate the psychology of an entire country. We now know that Cambridge Analytica has done just that — not just in the United States, but also in the fragile political systems of the global south.

The company mined Kenyan voters’ data to help President Uhuru Kenyatta win disputed elections. Over two presidential election cycles, it presided over some of the darkest and most vicious campaigns Kenya has ever seen. Cambridge Analytica confirmed its involvement to an undercover reporter for Britain’s Channel 4, which released an exposé on Monday. Executives were taped saying that they ran “just about every element” of Kenyatta’s campaign in 2013 and 2017, including rebranding his party twice, and writing the campaign’s manifesto and speeches.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Monday, civil rights activists in Nairobi protest the government shutdown of Kenyan television stations. The channels were blocked from broadcasting a “swearing-in” of opposition leader Raila Odinga. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images)

Living in Kenya these days often feels like an alternate reality far removed from the year and such alien concepts as the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and democratic freedoms. First, the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA, not to be confused with the space agency) carried out a mock swearing-in of its leader, Raila Odinga, as “the people’s president,” despite protests from the government, foreign envoys and some opinion leaders in the country.

The overreaction from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s embattled administration was swift and relentless, starting with a week-long illegal shutdown of four television stations, including the three largest independent TV stations, NTV, KTN News and Citizen TV, which collectively control 70 percent of total viewership.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of the Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga celebrate as Odinga held a symbolic “swearing in” ceremony in Nairobi despite losing the 2017 presidential election. (Daniel Irungu/European Pressphoto Agency)

In Nairobi on Tuesday, 2017 Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga swore himself in as the “people’s president” in front of a crowd of thousands of his supporters, but noticeably without the support of his opposition political coalition. Odinga’s ceremonial move to establish a parallel “people’s” government was the latest twist following months of electoral uncertainty and a repeat election in October, which the opposition boycotted.

Until shortly before the swearing-in ceremony, the police had vowed to arrest anyone who attempted to enter the park where the ceremony would be held. That didn’t happen. Instead, the police allowed the ceremony to go ahead peacefully, watching from a distance on horseback. …  Seguir leyendo »

Kenya’s opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga, right, and Kalonzo Musyoka, left, former vice-president of Kenya, NASA principal and Wiper Democratic Movement leader. (Brian Ongoro, Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

Like President Trump, Kenya’s opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has a nuclear button, one that he now says he is not afraid to use. He has refused to recognize President Uhuru Kenyatta’s controversial reelection and has vowed to have himself sworn in as president by the end of the month. This has drawn a predictably alarmed reaction from within the government with Attorney General Githu Muigai having warned Odinga that he risks being put to death for treason if he goes ahead.

The standoff over the presidency — now into its sixth month — has witnessed the first annulment of a presidential election in the continent’s history and has taken a terrible toll.…  Seguir leyendo »

Seven years after enacting radical new constitutional provisions to tackle the marginalization and under-representation of women, the fight for equality in Kenya remains far from won. Although small but significant gains by women have been made – including the election of Kenya’s first female senators and governors – the constitution still requires that not more than two-thirds of elective or appointed public bodies be of the same gender. This is commonly referred to as the “two-thirds gender rule”.

In 2017, just 23 women were elected to the National Assembly (from 290 contested seats) and three women were to the Senate (from 47 contested seats).…  Seguir leyendo »

Crisis Group’s recent publications on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including our 4 December 2017 report, examine the crisis provoked by President Joseph Kabila’s determination to hold onto power and repeatedly delayed elections. The DRC is only one of three African countries we cover whose future course could depend in part on the holding of credible elections: one vote past, in Kenya; one future, Zimbabwe’s 2018 polls; and one deferred, in the DRC.

These polls have had – or will have – important implications for democracy and stability not only in the three countries themselves but for the region as a whole.…  Seguir leyendo »

This week Kenyans are going through a replay of their disastrous 2007 election, only in super-slow motion. A decade ago, the country endured a disputed election in which the incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, was running for re-election against opposition leader Raila Odinga. Under intense pressure from the state and surrounded by armed paramilitary police, the head of the electoral commission declared Kibaki the president-elect. (The commissioner would later say that he did not know who had won.)

Within half an hour, as the sun was setting and darkness fell over the grounds of State House, Kibaki was hurriedly sworn in. “With the election now behind us,” he declared, “it’s time for healing and reconciliation.” Rather than healing, his inauguration sparked weeks of violent protests and tit-for-tat ethnic killings that left over 1,300 people dead.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kenya’s presidential election of 8 August was annulled by the Supreme Court, which ruled it unconstitutional – a historic first for the country, and for Africa. The election was repeated on 26 October. Turnout fell from 79.5 per cent to 38.8 per cent as the effects of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s boycott, broader public disenchantment with the credibility of the process and political fatigue made themselves felt. Even in areas supportive of the incumbent, President Uhuru Kenyatta, participation dropped sharply. On Monday 30 October, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared Kenyatta the winner, with 98 per cent of the vote.…  Seguir leyendo »