Pray For Kenya! It is Burning.

Kenya is walking dangerously close to the “mass grave” it dug for itself in 2008, following the disputed election of 2007.

The political and ethnic violence that ensued claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Kenyans and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

“We nearly lost Kenya,” were the words that Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general and mediator in the Kenyan crisis, used to describe the mayhem that greeted the announcement of the final election result in December of 2007.

Nearly nine years later, and with lessons of the 59-day violence seemingly forgotten, Kenyans are once more pinning their country to the ground and holding a can of petrol in one hand and a box of matches in the other.

As a journalist who has been covering Kenya and Africa since 1989 I am now a worried man.

If nothing is done to pacify the society and cool the temperatures that have been recklessly raised by politicians, this nation could burn.

And if it does, the blaze will be a lot more fierce and destructive than in 2008.

‘Hidden animosity’

In the last year, social media has continued to light up with hate speech.

Commentary and posts are being screened and responded to through ethnic lenses.

In one conversation packed with ethnic vitriol, a contributor commented:

“Going by the comments here, it confirms the fact that there is hidden animosity in Kenya and one day 2007/2008 violence will look like child’s play. We will be worse than what happened in Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo combined.”

Eight elected politicians were recently arrested and detained in police custody for three days on charges of hate speech.

One is accused of calling for the eviction of one community from Nakuru region in the Rift Valley, while another alluded to the assassination of opposition leader Raila Odinga.

At the centre of the current spike in political fever is the government and opposition stand-off regarding electoral reform.

In the last few weeks, Monday has been turned into a day of political protests.

The opposition has been calling their supporters onto the streets to push for the reforms by marching to the offices of the electoral commission.

And the response from the police has predictably been a healthy dose of tear gas, in an attempt to break up the demonstrations.

Four people have so far died in clashes between police and protesters.

Mondays are now called “machozi Monday” – Swahili for “tear gas Monday”.

And the area around the offices of the electoral commission is now baptised “shisha corner” because of the heavy tear gas that fills the air.

BBC
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