Structural causes of violence: a case of the Post Electoral violence in Kenya, 2002-2008
Sifuma, Esther N
MetadataShow full item record
Structural violence that is not addressed becomes like a pressure cooker which eventually explodes at the slightest trigger. This study investigates the sources of structural causes of violence using the post-electoral violence in Kenya 2007-2008 as the case study in the Kenyan society.· In so doing the study explores the linkage between dysfunctional structures in society and the propensity for violence. The study aims to provide an overview of the 20007-2008 post electoral violence. The study is situated in the structural violence paradigm. The term structural violence has been ascribed to Johan Galtung whose seminal work' Violence, Peace and Peace Research' made a distinction between direct or physical violence and indirect or structural violence. Galtung opines that structural violence is inbuilt in structures and manifests itself as unequal power that results in unequal chances. It also manifests itself as poverty, hunger, repression and unemployment. As a result human beings experiencing structural violence have reduced quality of life as a result of the marginalization and unequal distribution of resources that goes in tandem with unequal decision making powers. The theory therefore, provides a deeper understanding of conflict going beyond the trigger causes of the post electoral violence in Kenya in order to understand the underlying causes and thus prescribe the real measures that resolves the conflict creating an enduring peace characterized by social justice. Both primary and secondary data were used in this study. Primary data was collected through the use of unstructured interviews. Secondary data was collected from books, journals, reports and newspaper articles. The study contends that the post-electoral violence in Kenya was caused by anomalous structures that did not address the concerns of many Kenyans such as equitable distribution of resources, access to land, discrimination of women, entrenched corruption and impunity, marginalisation of minority communities, poverty and unemployment among the youth. The study contends that while structural violence existed prior to 2007, physical violence broke out in 2007 due to the fact that Kenyan citizens had now become more aware of their rights and more empowered to fight repression. The study also finds that while resolution of the conflict calls for the overhaul of the defective structures, it is necessary to deal with the issues of justice through holding the perpetrators of the violence responsible for their actions. This requires a delicate balance between vengeance and justice. The study also finds that there is need for political will and vigilance from citizens and civil society organisations in order to ensure that the reform process needed to engender a peaceful and just society stays on course.