Violence in Kenya: an analysis of the dimensions of Ethnic violence associated with Elites, 1991-2008
This study examines the dimensions of ethnic violence associated with elites in Kenya and covers the period from 1991 to 2008. The researcher's interest to study the phenomenon was inspired by its recurrence in the country during every subsequent general election since 1992 and the perceived impunity occasioned by the government's reluctance to punish those linked to the violence as evidenced by findings from the various commissions appointed to inquire into the problem. The study is guided in its investigation by the primordial and instrumentalist theories of ethnicity. It employs qualitative research approach where the researcher interacted with the respondents to gather their views and perceptions. Data collection was done through unstructured questionnaire, interview guide, focused group discussions and non-participant observation. The data gathered was subsequently analyzed through thematic data analysis technique. The analysis of the data revealed the violence that occurred between 1991 and 2008 was election related, targeted immigrant ethnic groups, was planned, coordinated and financed by the elites with politicians driving the process and bearing the greatest responsibility. Further, the findings identified the media and in particular the FM vernacular radio stations and political/public rallies as the main instruments used to mobilize and incite ethnic communities into violence. Additionally, the findings revealed the violence was driven by political incitement, where elections were the excuse rather than the cause for violence over land. The study concludes that the entrenchment of the culture of impunity in Kenya is the main reason for the recurrence and escalation of ethnic violence and therefore, makes a host of recommendations including formation of a local mechanism to try perpetrators of ethnic violence and the review of the regulations governing licensing of vernacular radio stations.