With an estimated 1,000 dead (some put the figure at 2,000) and 600,000 displaced, as well as 12,000 refugees in Uganda, the social map of Kenya is changing. The losses and changes in relations between people are deep. But there is also a process of peace initiatives being steadily built from below. According to Wangui Mbatia, co-ordinator of the Kenyan Network of NGOs
(Kengo) and the People’s Parliament (Bunge La Mwananchi), a grass-roots debating and action network: ‘People themselves are trying to intervene – it can’t come from above. A number of
people are doing small, good things for each other. Kenyans are helping themselves.’
‘The Kenyan people are not fighting actively as before – tensions are lower,’ Mbatia continues. ‘It is very difficult to get Kenyans into a state of civil war; the mediation talks have allowed for the situation to calm down. Despite the political class having hijacked the issue, constitutional reform is back on the table. The capacity shown by the Kenyan people to assist each other has been inspiring. We are still able to talk between and across communities. In certain arenas we are still in a sense able to go beyond their differences.’
The People’s Parliament has been organising all over Kenya, including the flashpoint towns of Nakuru and Eldoret. Its non- partisan approach has given it an advantage over bigger NGOs, which have often been compromised by their support for either one of the candidates.
Salim Mbua, the director of Foymasa (Swahili for ‘forum for real change’), is working on bringing about rapprochement between clashing tribes. Based in Nakuru, where thousands of people are living in the town’s stadium and a curfew is enforced from dusk till dawn, he and 30 others from various tribal backgrounds have been holding education and peace-building seminars. ‘Each organiser goes to his or her own tribe and talks to them; this way we reach everybody,’ he explains. ‘Foymassa has been focusing recently on meeting with elders. We are trying to do this so that they talk to their children and ask them not to fight.’
Nakuru is a cosmopolitan town, with some 40 different tribes, many of which have come into conflict with the dominant Kikuyu. According to Mbua, ‘There have been incidences of ethnic cleansing. The reason is that people believe there has been an unfair allocation of resources, but this is not true. It has been occasioned by the negative campaigns, we think, by politicians.’ He says the most urgent needs are to support peace-building efforts from below and to bring those who have committed crimes to justice, whatever their backgrounds.
Similar efforts are being made in Nairobi. Geoffrey Osiba, programme co-ordinator at Kengo, explains: ‘We’ve been going into some of the areas where there has been conflict and arguing on that which people have in common; that there’s no good in fighting, and it will not add anything to their life whether it is Kibaki or Odinga – it’s up to them in their villages, in their homes, to come together; that we need each other more than we need these leaders.’ He concedes, however, that the interventions need to come from the top too. ‘If people unite at the top and set an example, then people on the ground will follow.’
Land and freedom
The issues of ancestral lands, the plight of squatters and colonial mono-crop occupation have come to the fore in Kenya’s post-election conflict, as some groups find themselves displaced for the third time in a century. Kengo is formulating proposals for a truth and reconciliation commission and submitting a document on constitutional reform to the United Nations. Knowing who really won the elections is a fundamental point of departure.
Determining the starting point for addressing restitution has proved
problematic. ‘Do we begin with 2007, or 1992 or 1963?’ asks Wangui Mbatia. ‘Any discussion about land in Kenya must also be a discussion about the British interest in Kenya. The land problem is getting bigger and now it’s not just between African Kenyans but between the descendents of the settlers as well.’
According to Geoffrey Osiba, one family alone – the Kenyattas – owns a third of all Kenyan land. The occupation of land by tea plantations such as those supplying the Unilever group of companies and fruit plantations supplying the likes of Delmonte are coming under popular scrutiny. ‘There is one camp of displaced people right next to the Brooke Bond tea plantation in the Rift Valley. People there are deeply questioning the roots of their displacement,’ says Osiba.
Between Nairobi, Naivasha and Nakuru, faith in a human capacity for regeneration and co-operation remains strong. The spaces where people come together on terms not set by parties or sectarian agendas or temporary partitions are the spaces of hope, with the workplace as a key site
for interaction between people from different backgrounds.
‘If people are working together, if we can agree to co-exist together, then that will influence the negotiation process. If the process goes well, I don’t see why we cannot live together,’ says Osiba. ‘We are working together in the same schools, the same offices, the same workplaces. Damage has been done but we can heal it.’
Kenya’s People’s Parliament is fundraising for a peace caravan and documentary initiative. Contact Kengo at infokengo[at]mail.com to offer support
When fire safety has become a privilege for the rich, it’s time to stop austerity and fund emergency mass works to raise standards immediately, writes Jane Shallice
The election result has irreversibly changed political discourse in the UK, writes James Fox
In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Bernie Grant's election to parliament, Ayo Wallace explores the life and legacy of his radical representation of Tottenham's black communities.
Across Britain, hundreds of thousands of people have now taken part in mass rallies for Corbyn's Labour. Eli Regan soaks up the atmosphere in Warrington
The under-30s could be decisive in the general election. Frances Grahl meets young people hit by Tory austerity and looks at what's driving their support for Labour
“To them it’s just another number, someone else being sent back. But when you’ve got three children being left without their dad … it’s quite major,” writes Rebecca Omonira-Okeykanmi.
Hundreds of people surrounded the fences this weekend. Hera Lorandos spoke to women who have suffered inside.
Grassroots posters giving an alternative take on the general election
Laying out the case for Labour's leadership of a Progressive Alliance, Jeremy Gilbert argues that far from posing a threat to the Left, the Progressive Alliance offers a golden opportunity to end Tory rule and build a 21st century government committed to social justice
The Greens have stood down in Brighton Kemptown to clear the way for Labour, and the Lib Dems won’t stand in Brighton’s other seat, Green-held Pavilion. Davy Jones, who would have been the Green candidate in Kemptown, says this shows the way forward
Contagion: How the Crisis Spread
Following on from his essay, How Empire Struck Back, Walden Bello speaks to TNI's Nick Buxton about how the financial crisis spread from the USA to Europe
How Empire Struck Back
Walden Bello dissects the failure of Barack Obama's 'technocratic Keynesianism' and explains why this led to Donald Trump winning the US presidency
Empire en Vogue
Nadine El-Enany examines the imperial pretensions of Britain's post-Brexit foreign affairs and trade strategy
Grenfell Tower residents evicted from hotel with just hours’ notice
An urgent call for support from the Radical Housing Network
Jeremy Corbyn is no longer the leader of the opposition – he has become the People’s Prime Minister
While Theresa May hides away, Corbyn stands with the people in our hours of need, writes Tom Walker
In the aftermath of this disaster, we must fight to restore respect and democracy for council tenants
Glyn Robbins says it's time to put residents, not private firms, back at the centre of decision-making over their housing
After Grenfell: ending the murderous war on our protections
Under cover of 'cutting red tape', the government has been slashing safety standards. It's time for it to stop, writes Christine Berry
Why the Grenfell Tower fire means everything must change
The fire was a man-made atrocity, says Faiza Shaheen – we must redesign our economic system so it can never happen again
Forcing MPs to take an oath of allegiance to the monarchy undermines democracy
As long as being an MP means pledging loyalty to an unelected head of state, our parliamentary system will remain undemocratic, writes Kate Flood
7 reasons why Labour can win the next election
From the rise of Grime for Corbyn to the reduced power of the tabloids, Will Murray looks at the reasons to be optimistic for Labour's chances next time
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 25 June
On June 25th, the fourth of Red Pepper Race Section's Open Editorial Meetings will celebrate the launch of our new black writers' issue - Empire Will Eat Itself.
After two years of attacks on Corbyn supporters, where are the apologies?
In the aftermath of this spectacular election result, some issues in the Labour Party need addressing, argues Seema Chandwani
If Corbyn’s Labour wins, it will be Attlee v Churchill all over again
Jack Witek argues that a Labour victory is no longer unthinkable – and it would mean the biggest shake-up since 1945
On the life of Robin Murray, visionary economist
Hilary Wainwright pays tribute to the life and legacy of Robin Murray, one of the key figures of the New Left whose vision of a modern socialism lies at the heart of the Labour manifesto.
Letter from the US: Dear rest of the world, I’m just as confused as you are
Kate Harveston apologises for the rise of Trump, but promises to make it up to us somehow
The myth of ‘stability’ with Theresa May
Settit Beyene looks at the truth behind the prime minister's favourite soundbite
Civic strike paralyses Colombia’s principle pacific port
An alliance of community organisations are fighting ’to live with dignity’ in the face of military repression. Patrick Kane and Seb Ordoñez report.
Greece’s heavy load
While the UK left is divided over how to respond to Brexit, the people of Greece continue to groan under the burden of EU-backed austerity. Jane Shallice reports
On the narcissism of small differences
In an interview with the TNI's Nick Buxton, social scientist and activist Susan George reflects on the French Presidential Elections.
Why Corbyn’s ‘unpopularity’ is exaggerated: Polls show he’s more popular than most other parties’ leaders – and on the up
Headlines about Jeremy Corbyn’s poor approval ratings in polls don’t tell the whole story, writes Alex Nunns
Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for a political organiser
Closing date for applications: postponed, see below
The media wants to demoralise Corbyn’s supporters – don’t let them succeed
Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections
In light of Dunkirk: What have we learned from the (lack of) response in Calais?
Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines
Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
This isn’t just a stunt. A new worker’s cooperative is set to employ people on a real living wage in a recycling scheme that is heavily trolling George Osborne. Jenny Nelson writes
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.
West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective
How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences
The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally