While Kenya largely remains calm, sporadic violence has broken out as the country awaits official election results
JAISAL NOOR: While most of Kenya’s capital remained peaceful on Thursday, tensions were high in isolated areas as the country waits for official election results. Police fired tear gas and clashed with protesters in the slum of Kibera. Four were killed in election-related violence on Wednesday [August 9] and though calm returned to most of Nairobi, tensions remained in the slums. On Thursday at least one man was reportedly killed. The area was cordoned off by police who fired tear gas at dozens of supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga who has rejected election results that show his opponent Uhuru Kenyatta has a strong lead. Police shot live bullets at protesters. Youth burned tires and threw stones. It was the second day of violence since Odinga claimed the election system had been hacked. On Wednesday police shot dead at least three people and protesters killed a fourth, witnesses said. Although the violence remained largely contained, Kenyans were nervously hoping to avoid a repetition of the ethnic killings that followed a disputed 2007 presidential poll, when some 1,200 people died. Friday we’ll bring you an update with Stephen Ouma Akoth, He’s an Anthropology Fellow at University of the Western Cape. Meanwhile, here’s our most recent interview on the Kenya Election: ODENDA LUMUMBA: The opposition has accused the incumbent government for doing little in terms of maintaining food security. It has been accused of corruption that has lead to lack of inputs in agriculture, it has been accused of diverting money which was meant for some of the interventions which had been tried on like irrigable agriculture and essentially we have been running short of major foodstuffs, the staples maize being one of them, sugar, milk have been running short. But interestingly also those incumbent have been accused of conflict of interest because when you ask who is processing milk, who is the miller you find those in government high up mixing up in business. DHARNA NOOR: So, where in Kenya are the main conflicts taking place? Is this mainly a rural issue, are there particular geographies that are being affected in Kenya? ODENDA LUMUMBA: Yes, I think it has just been a question of policy choices. I must say that since 2008 there has been a lot of emphasis on exploration of other commodities especially in terms of minerals which has been a focus and the expectation that that will turn around the economy. There has been sheer neglect of agriculture and where agriculture there has been intervention has been almost on large scale foreign direct investment. And yet, at the same time, that has been seen as land grab by the local especially where they have been trying to get to areas with irrigable water especially in wetland places. DHARNA NOOR: In wetland places. Okay, so we also know that Kenya has seen a lot of political conflict along ethnic lines, for instance in the 2007-2008 election. Has the drought triggered conflict along ethnic lines, economic lines? ODENDA LUMUMBA: I think it has triggered conflict at the level of the political lines because in that situation of arable areas, the people indigent claim that their land has been taken by others from other zones and that also caused a lot of displacement. A lot of people were displaced to almost a tune of 650,000 people were displaced from arable areas. And also those who could have invest in some of these areas, the prime areas, they have been a bit hesitant especially when it comes around election time because they are not sure what that will gain them. But of course the whole idea has also been about marginalization. Some of the areas with wetlands, with water which is a main ingredient in agriculture, have been … have … there are areas that people are vulnerable and whose economic fortunes have been dwindling over time. DHARNA NOOR: If you would, talk a little more about the political landscape … incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta and I understand his main rival, Raila Odinga. Are they or the other candidates addressing the food and land crisis in their campaigns in any real way? ODENDA LUMUMBA: Incidentally we may say as we say here locally that there are two main horses that are riding very fast to the finishing line that is the coalition, the Jubilee coalition of Uhuru Kenyatta and the NASA coalition of Raila Odinga. The two are the only ones that have clear manifestos that are addressing some of these issues, the two are part of those that have been around in the system of leadership for quite a time, and definitely the choices of Kenya could be said as choice-less choice between those who have been around leadership of the country since Independence. DHARNA NOOR: And you work on land policy in Kenya talk about what your ideal land use policy would be. In your opinion what would properly deal with the food crisis? ODENDA LUMUMBA: I think our argument has always been that we need to broaden the land access to the majority who are in the rural areas, securing Kenya for them. Basically, securing Kenya for people in the pre-urban, who can do the pre-urban agriculture that feed the burgeoning population of urbanization in Kenya. So essentially one of our push has been always to broaden this queued distribution of land so that other than having a few people owning massive land that they don’t use efficiently and effectively could broaden the people that access land. That is where our argument has been especially for the youth who are energetic, the youth who could do more with land to be involved in agriculture other than having people have served elsewhere, they are retiring, their energies are drained and they want to go in agriculture. Definitely, there is no effective use of land as much as they could be having capital compared to the youth. DHARNA NOOR: Odenda Lumumba, the Head of the Kenya Land Alliance, a group that works on land reform, thank you so much for joining us today sir. ODENDA LUMUMBA: Thanks too. DHARNA NOOR: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.