James Bett: Why the violence in Rift Valley could not have been planned

RIFT VALLEY IS THE ONLY PROVINCE (besides Nairobi) that is a true representation of Kenya since all communities can be found there. Frequent conflicts have also characterised the province.

Many people have talked of serious underlying issues that were only triggered by the disputed presidential poll. Such issues include land, historical injustices, economic disempowerment, ethnic mistrust, and unemployment.

There is no dispute that the electioneering process right up to the voting day was largely peaceful. Many Kenyans were satisfied with the process of voting, counting and declaration of results at the polling centres.

The unprecedented violence that rocked most parts of the country was precipitated by the announcement of disputed presidential results by the Electoral Commission of Kenya.

Most people who watched the announcement of the presidential tallied votes live on TV and heard it on radio were concerned about the unexplained withholding of results from certain constituencies and subsequent differences in the results announced at constituency level and at KICC tallying centre, which led them to suspect that there was manipulation of presidential elections in the tallying process.

THE VIOLENCE WAS THEREFORE spontaneous and NOT premeditated as has been reported by some. The theory of the violence having been planned is just that – a theory.

Yet it has been so well spun that even the international community have bought it wholesale! One diplomat was recently quoted as saying “it may have been spontaneous in Western, Nyanza and Coast but at least in the Rift Valley, it was clearly planned”.

Why this singling out of one community for selective condemnation? What would make it spontaneous in all other parts of the country “except” in the Rift Valley?

It is a complete fabrication that there was any form of planning, training or financing of youth to engage in violence. Let me give you just a few points why the violence could NOT have been planned.

Kenya is reputed to have one of the best intelligence networks in the region. Indeed, together with the military intelligence and police network including that of informants, nothing escapes the watchful eye of Big Brother.

Claims have been made that the violence was planned as far back as six months in advance. It is utterly unbelievable that such planning involving probably thousands of people could have escaped this elaborate network. Otherwise we may have to ask why the Government failed to beef up security in Rift Valley when it “expected trouble”.

There were many PNU candidates and voters in Kalenjinland. If, perhaps, the whole community was in a conspiracy of silence so that the intelligence network missed this vital information, how about the numerous parliamentary, civic candidates and voters in PNU, their family, friends and relatives within the community? Didn’t even one person learn of the planning and whisper a warning to the authorities?

The majority of Kalenjin youth who participated in the violence in most urban areas of Rift Valley were unarmed and carried little more than sticks and stones. Only a few had arrows or other weapons. Any Kalenjin man can demonstrate that it will take less than 15 minutes to make an arrow. If this thing was planned for six months, why didn’t the youth just make as many arrows as they needed?

If people were paid for “ethnic cleansing” why not use just a little of that money to buy a few kilos of six-inch nails and make enough arrows before the elections?

These planners must have been so naïve that they did not understand the repercussions of the war they were starting. Otherwise they should have known the importance of evacuating their own from areas where there was likely to be revenge attacks from the affected community.

THERE WAS NO SIGN THAT KALENJINS living outside their ancestral land were evacuated or prepared to evacuate at short notice.

If the Kalenjins planned a war before the elections, someone should have noticed panic-buying and stocking of these essential items amongst the planners. I was in Eldoret during the first one week of this fateful year and saw the desperation of everybody as people were grounded for lack of fuel, could not communicate by phone, and almost all essential items went missing in most homes. Poor planners these people!

Many Kalenjins risked their lives protecting, hiding and assisting Kikuyus to escape death.

Why did people who had planned all these not warn their Kikuyu friends and neighbours to flee before instead of risking their own lives by protecting them after the violence began?

There are over two million Kikuyus in the Rift Valley. If anyone had planned an ethnic cleansing targeting them then surely the death toll would have been much higher.

Mr Bett is the chairman of EMO, a community organisation serving people in Rift Valley. This is an excerpt of a speech read during an interdenominational prayers and peace rally in Eldoret.

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3 Responses to James Bett: Why the violence in Rift Valley could not have been planned

Ssembonge said...

William Ruto's roomate in Chiromo Campus was also called James Bett. Could this be him? I know he doubles up as his business associate and they have/had joint investments.

PS. I have not read the article.

Anonymous said...

james bett. It's March 20th. Can you please move with the present. The premeditation in murder of thousands of kikuyus is well-documented. Your paltry attempts at spinning it cannot change the truth. As Martha Karua said to odm, just because you repeat a lie a thousand times, does not make it truth.
Move to the 21st century, leave the middle ages alone. You and your 'community'.

tim said...

Let us be completely honest here. The truth of the matter is the kalenjins begun murdering kikuyus after the disputed results were announced. I am not blind to the fact that there have been some historical injustices that they feel or felt aggrieved about. While the Luo went on to demonstrate against what they believed was a flawed election the kalenjins went on a massacre mission that would have made the interhamwe of Rwanda or the janjaweeed of Sudan proud. For members of the kalenjin community to go ahead and justify this genocide due to a stolen election or historical injustices only goes to show that even today, given another chance they would troop to the next church and set it ablaze while hacking everyone who manages to escape the fire. I condem all the violence in the strongest possible terms. That includes the Mungiki who used revenge as a cover to re-invent themselves as a protector of the kikuyu tribe while they were being hunted down.
If Ruto or anyone else was responsible for the violence am not content with reserving the hottest place in hell for them. I want to see them punished here on earth.Anyone involved in the killings deserves a date with the hang-man in kamiti regardless of what tribe they come from or what grieviances thay may have had.