Past Event

Democracy in Dire Straits: Will There Be Another Genocide in Africa?

Speaker Announcement: Café Society will be hosting four wonderful speakers for this week’s topic!

  • Mukila Maitha, President of United Kenyans of Chicago, at Intelligentsia on Tuesday
  • Ronald Bukusi, United Kenyans of Chicago, at the Chicago Cultural Center on Wednesday
  • Jane Kimondo, an international activist, at Pause on Wednesday
  • Peter Wawire, United Kenyans of Chicago, at Valois on Thursday

We are still working with United Kenyans of Chicago to bring speakers to more locations. Checkthe Café Society webpage later on for the updates. See below for more information about the speakers.

This week, the United Nations reported that at least 600,000 people have been displaced in Kenya during the weeks of post-election violence and more than 1,000 have been killed. Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, has been brought in to mediate peace talks as fears of another genocide in Africa loom.

Less than two months ago, on December 27, millions of Kenyans peacefully participated in presidential and parliamentary elections. The next day tallies for parliament seats revealed that a number of leaders within President Mwai Kibaki’s ruling party, the Party of National Unity, had lost their seats. Additionally, polls showed that Raila Odinga, the head of the opposition party, had a significant lead in the presidential race.

However, the following day, the Kenyan Electoral Commission declared the incumbent, Kibaki, the winner and re-inaugurated him as president. Charges of fraud were issued, riots ensued, and ethnic violence quickly broke out across the country. Kibaki suspended television media coverage and banned public rallies. Waves of revenge killings have been ignited, and dozens of protesters have been shot by police in what the Human Rights Watch has called “extrajudicial killings.”

Many point out that the longstanding imbalance of power between the president’s ethnic group, the Kikuyus, and the other ethnic groups fueled the outrage and violence that erupted over the elections. Some have called for recounts or demanded that Kibaki step down immediately. Annan is currently attempting to negotiate a power-sharing agreement.

Is there a place for violent protest in a democracy? What does accountability look like for those who used violence to demand justice? How is government-sanctioned violence reconciled when those who exercised and ordered it are still in seats of power within the government? How is power-sharing achieved between a longstanding favored ethnic group and historically marginalized ones? Is there room to address underlying grievances between ethnic populations and government corruption in a political process?

Suggested Readings:

Who Are the Kikuyu?

Did Development Fail in Kenya?

Kenya: Local Experts Can Tackle Human-Rights Abuses

The Right Way Forward for Kenya

Politics not ethnicity behind Kenya crisis

More About Our Speakers:

Ronald Bukusi is widely traveled and has been to most parts of the world.In college, hestudied History and Literature in English. He has a passion for sports and has worked in various capacities as a sports event planner and administrator with both the IOC and Commonwealth Games Federation. He is currently involved in recreation and team development and the Q Center in St. Charles. Above all, he is unashamedly Kenyan.

Jane Kimondo has extensive international and nonprofit experience in both Chicago and her native country, Kenya. Currently she is a Program Officer at Crossroads Fund, a social change foundation. Her interests and passion range from social justice issues to world events. She holds two Master’s Degrees in Organizational Development and Human Resources and a Certificate in Advanced Study in Philanthropy & Non-Profit Sector from Loyola University Chicago.

Mukila Maitha is president of United Kenyans of Chicago NFP. During his tenure, UKC has grown into one of the most dynamic and effective Kenyan diaspora organizations. In addition to serving the mutual assistance needs of Kenyan immigrants, UKC serves to increase the visibility, participation and contribution of Kenyan immigrants to American society. Maitha has lived in the U.S. since 1991 and holds a master’s degree in geography from Northern Illinois University . His life long interest in international affairs, African history, culture and geo-politics led him to become actively involved with the Illinois Kenyan community. He previously worked with the Kenya Wildlife Service, the City of De Kalb’s Planning Division and Rand McNally. In addition to UKC, he currently works as a Senior Systems Analyst for Cardinal Health. Maitha’s leadership was recognized with a Volunteer Leadership Award grant by the Cardinal Health Foundation.

For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.