The forms of conflict that have manifested in Kenya have been either due to ethnic alliances or international alliances. Historically, Kenya has had ethnic clashes a few times due to incitement from politicians especially after elections such as the 2007 general elections that resulted in the 2007-2008 post election violence. However other than that, most of the aggression Kenya faces is external. Kenya’s Geo-political location puts her in danger of violence spill-over from her war-torn neighboring countries, mainly Somalia and South Sudan. The international community has praised Kenya for her generosity in terms of taking in refugees and taking peace-keeping missions for example in Somalia. However, the rise of terrorist attacks in Kenya due to these missions amongst many factors has made Kenyans wary of refugees who have also been linked to these attacks. As a result, this has caused the Kenyan government to threaten closure of the largest refugee camps in Daadab, which has caused an outcry from the international community. But shouldn’t Kenya separate herself from regional politics in order to maintain order and peace in the state and prevent her from following the path of African states such as Congo that became too embroiled in their neighbor’s wars (Rwandese genocide) and caused permanent unrest at home?
Unlike the conflict in Congo, violence in Kenya is small-scale and spontaneous. It was mainly present during the second president’s regime-Daniel Arap Moi- in the years 1997 and 2001. There have been land clashes in Western Kenya in the mount Elgon area for a while. But other than that, most regions have always been peaceful. This is why it was such a shock for most people when the aftermath of the 2007-2008 general election was ethnic cleansing. The three main tribes: the Kikuyu, the Kalenjins, and the Luo were all involved and they basically evacuated opposition tribes from their regions. This resulted in more than a 1000 deaths and more than 500, 000 displacements within the country. The international community largely contributed to end the unrest. The UN and a few notable African leaders such as Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia intervened with both sides of government to resolve peace. Ultimatums from the international community forced the two leaders ,Mwai Kibaki and Raila Ondinga, to form a power-sharing coalition government. This international intervention was very helpful in ensuring that Kenya was not stuck in violence, as it would become another statistic of a war-torn sub-Saharan county.
Recently there have been several terrorist attacks in Kenya, which have been the main cause of violence in the last few years for instance, the Mpeketoni Killings. This has prompted the international community to constantly give travel advisories against Kenya. Kenya has thus experienced adverse effects on her economy due to a decline in tourism and pulling out of investors due to the threat of violence. Simultaneously, Kenyans constantly ask their government for accountability and action against the Al-Shabaab. Kenya became involved with Somalia to fight the Al-Shabaab due to international pressure from the UN and the US. But now Al-Shabaab is a Kenyan problem as can be illustrated by the killing of 147 university students. Some of the government officials feel that one way of dealing with this security issue would be to close down the refugee camps in North Eastern Kenya-Dadaab camps. Despite backlash from the international community, which has also been reluctant to accept Syrian refugees and refugees from North Africa to Europe, it seems that Kenya is also falling prey to politics of xenophobia. Therefore, in as much as she wants to protect the interests of her country, blaming refugees for the inadequacies of the government does not solve much other than escalate the problem.
- Kenya attack: Mpeketoni near Lamu hit by Al-Shabaab raid. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27862510