Election violence in Kenya

In 2007/8, more than 1,000 Kenyans lost their lives in the violence that followed a disputed presidential election. The violence was fuelled by ethnic grievances and tensions over land. Naivasha was significantly affected by the violence, which led to mass displacement of some communities from the region.

The workforce of the major flower farms is ethnically diverse. When the Kikuyu were bussed into Naivasha to retaliate against western tribes, a number of the biggerflower growers, along with the Red Cross, helped provide safety to Abagusii, Abaluhya and Luo workers – either offering shelter in their premises or using flower trucks to transport them to safe areas.

Whilst things are presently calm on the surface, the unaddressed injustices from this political violence continue to simmer in Naivasha. These are felt most strongly among young men from the different opposing tribes who clashed. A small trigger – a criminal act or an unpopular political decision – could be sufficient for the risk of conflict to be reignited.

Following the attack on the Westgate shopping centre in September 2013 by the Somali Islamist group al- Shabaab, Somali communities – who already live in separate settlements – risk being further ghettoised. This could foster further ethnic tensions, which again risk becoming violent.

Photo: © Sven Torfinn/Panos