By Edna Simbi
Edna Simbi is a student at Columbia University studying receiving degrees in international relations, affairs, and security policy.
On December 30, 2007, the Electoral Commission of Kenya, an independent body whose members are appointed by the president, announced the results of a highly contested election. During the election, two major tribes, the Kikuyu and Luo, led by their respective tribal leaders, Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, accused each other of electoral fraud with each camp claiming to have won the elections. Immediately after announcement of the results, Kibaki was hastily sworn into office in a secret ceremony. Soon after, violent protests, lootings and killings, rocked the country.
Since independence, Kenya had been largely peaceful, so what caused the 2007 post-election violence? The violence is significant because it is representative of broader groups, and increasing instances of dissension after 2007 seem to have the potential to foment future violence. My thesis is that Kenya’s new democracy after only 44 years of independence was too fragile and was still an anocracy—a political system that is half democratic and half authoritarian—and the violence was facilitated by identity politics and elite instrumentalization, all of which were legacies of colonialism.