Ethnic Segregation in Kenya Continues Unabated

Kenya seems to be following the template set out in previous inter-ethnic conflicts (see a previous post on the results of residential segregation in Baghdad), where the ultimate result is a more ethnically segregated society.  The “un-mixing of peoples” continues unabated in that increasingly unstable state.  The New York Times reports:


Following a flawed election, and a wave of ethnic and political violence, Kenya, once one of Africa’s most promising nations, is resegregating itself. Members of ethnic groups, like these Luos, left, waited for transportation to their ancestral homes.

Photo: Joao Silva for The New York Times

 OTHAYA, Kenya — Sarah Wangoi has spent her entire life — all 70 years of it — in the Rift Valley. But last month, she was chased off her farm by a mob that called her a foreigner. She now sleeps on the cold floor of a stranger’s house, seeking refuge in an area of Kenya where her ethnic group, the Kikuyu, is strong. It is, supposedly, her homeland.

“I am safe now,” said Ms. Wangoi, though the mob still chases her in her dreams.

Across the country, William Ojiambo sat in a field where the ground was too hard to plow. He, too, sought refuge with his ethnic group, the Luo. He used to live in an ethnically mixed town called Nakuru but was recently evicted by a gang from another ethnic group that burned everything he owned.

“We came here with nothing, like cabbages thrown in the back of a truck,” Mr. Ojiambo said.

Kenya used to be considered one of the most promising countries in Africa. Now it is in the throes of ethnically segregating itself. Ever since a deeply flawed election in December kicked off a wave of ethnic and political violence, hundreds of thousands of people have been violently driven from their homes and many are now resettling in ethnically homogenous zones.

Luos have gone back to Luo land, Kikuyus to Kikuyu land, Kambas to Kamba land and Kisiis to Kisii land. Even some of the packed slums in the capital, Nairobi, have split along ethnic lines.