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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 16:07 GMT
Battle of the blogs in Kenya
Screen grab from tHiNkEr'S rOoM blog [http://www.thinkersroom.com/blog/]

By Juliet Njeri
BBC Monitoring, Nairobi

Kenyan's political crisis sparked by the disputed presidential election continues to dominate debate on the country's blogs and online forums.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga says he was robbed of victory in December by Mwai Kibaki, who was declared the winner.

REGULATION

Some bloggers and online forums try to regulate their content, but others appear to have shunned moderation.

Mashada.com, a prominent online forum frequented by Kenyans in the diaspora, has introduced rules to govern and guide discussion by members.

"This forum exists to facilitate civil discussions and debates. Condescending, rude, and annoying remarks and insults are awarded with temporary and permanent bans," the forum's administration says. Forum members are expected to abide by 10 rules, among them a rule that states: "Personal aggression, condescension, rudeness, racism, bigotry, are banable offences."

ETHNIC VIOLENCE

While some bloggers condemned attacks on "unarmed, innocent and defenceless" Kikuyus, others supported the displacement of Kikuyus who "grabbed peoples land".

Screen grab from Girl in the Meadow blog [http://sylkwan.blogspot.com/]
This violence was not reactionary as some people would want to fool Kenyans
Kenyan blogger Shiroh

Writing on Mashada.com, contributor Ciceraw asked, "What courage is there in surgically pruning out unarmed, unsuspecting peasant Kikuyu, Kisii, Meru and Aembu or Embu people in places where they are overwhelmingly outnumbered?"

Kisii, Meru and Embu ethnic communities are perceived to have voted alongside the Kikuyu for President Mwai Kibaki.

Contributor Kenyajuu agreed with these sentiments saying that people "should stop attacking innocent and defenceless Kikuyus", adding that the problem "is not really Kikuyus", but "Kibaki and Mt Kenya mafia", referring to the president's smal troup of trusted aides.

On the other hand, on kenya.rcbowen.com, contributor Justice said the ethnic Kalenjin community should "immediately occupy their ancestral lands which [late] President Jomo Kenyatta took from them and dished out to his Kikuyu".

Shiroh, writing on Girl in the Meadow last week wrote, "This violence was not reactionary as some people would want to fool Kenyans... it is highly unlikely that 'normal' people in Kenya can wake up and start slaughtering each other."

Shiroh ended the entry: "As we go on wondering what happened, then Kenyans must not forget; there is a plan to divide kenyans by our own very leadership and it is amazing just how much [as published, presumably far] it has gone."

GENOCIDE

On Friday, contributor Kunadawa [medicine in Swahili] on the kenya.rcbowen.com forum likened the Kenyan crisis to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

African Press Graphic
Some the featured blog entries were translated by BBC Monitoring

He said that during the genocide extremist Hutu militia, the Interahamwe, "turned to moderate Hutu after running out of Tutsi" to kill.

He claimed that during the recent clashes the Kalenjin in Rift Valley Province turned on their fellow Kalenjin who supported President Kibaki after they had run out of Kikuyus to kill or displace. "The Kalenjin warriors, on the other hand, started on Kaleos [slang for Kalenjins] linked to government and PNU supporters after running short of Kyuks [slang for Kikuyus]. Word has it that Luos are next on the list in the event that Raila shows any sign of backing down," he said.

Writing on Mashada.com last week, contributor Husseinmusa153, sought to deflect Kikuyu criticism to the ruling class, saying: "Kikuyus should pray to God that these powercrazy elite do not have there ways [their way] or they [Kikuyus] would suffer most when war started."

RETALIATION

Some blogs appeared to be calling for reprisal attacks.

The Standard and Daily Nation newspapers have reported that leaflets were circulating in Central Province - the Kikuyu heartland - warning members of other ethnic communities to leave. The reports said that close to 1,200 people had left their homes in fear and were camping at police stations, and that at least four of them were suffering from bad knife wounds, after they were attacked.

Reacting to this development on Kikuyu.com, Maituwiti (our mother, in Kikuyu) said: "Those who advocated violence against the Kikuyus in Rift Valley and Nyanza, may have banked on the fact that in the past Kikuyus hardly ever retaliate.

"Those tribes have no problem castigating the Kikuyus even as they massacre them, then they cry so loud trying to drown out the cries of the majority of the victims."

Contributor Moderator1 supported these sentiments, saying "What goes around comes back around. They did not except [as published, presumably expect] the victims to just take it and do nothing or did they?" he added.

"Leave these Luos alone," wrote Chuchu155 in the Kikuyu language, adding, "Let's write in Kikuyu so that [others] do not know what is going on."

EXTREMISM

Reacting to last week's claim by the chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Maina Kiai, that the Kibaki government was using the banned Mungiki sect, whose members are largely Kikuyu, to protect the Kikuyu community, contributor Gikenye wrote on Kikuyu.com that, "what is wrong with Mungiki resurrecting? nothing. They are standing up to fight for the house of Mumbi!!!!" [Mumbi is the mother of the Kikuyu people, according to Kikuyu oral tradition.]

Other members of the pro-Kikuyu forum seemed to support this view. Njau ya Mbogo [child of a buffalo, in Kikuyu] wrote, "What has Mungiki done or what would they do that hasn't already been done to our people by," what he called, "ODM-sponsored savage terrorists and murderers?"

Writing on the same forum, Bugus said, "We need to defend ourselves," adding in Kikuyu that, "it is time to open our eyes because these people are finishing us."

MODERATION

However, some bloggers spoke out against ethnic divisions and urged moderation. Contributor Nyam Nyam, on kenya.rcbowen.com, wrote, "Defending Kikuyus or Luos wont help solve the situation. We should admit that there is a time bomb and it is about to explode", adding, "Shelve your tribal outfits NOW!"

In a post titled "I am Kenyan first...", Mashada.com member Black Knight urged other members to put "patriotism" above "tribal pride". Agreeing with Black Knight, Naughty-G said, "until some pple [people] stop thinking along ethnic lines, our beautiful country is going down fast." While Flexxx wrote, "I'm deeply deeply pained by the atrocities that happened to my tribe... Patriotism has been dealt a big blow."

Some bloggers called for responsible writing, and warned their readers that they would not allow any divisive messages or ones full of incitement.

Last week, on his blog tHiNkEr'S rOoM, M said his blog "is not a site to propagate hate and rumours. If you post something even remotely advocating hate or violence not only will I delete it, I shall blacklist you from ever visiting my blog again," he warned.

This week, M contemplates tribalism and the youth, writing, "If tribe was one of the considerations in your voting decision, then you're an ass."

Explaining his reasoning he goes on to say, "What makes me especially sad is that many of the people I know born in the window between 1970 and 1990, who really ought to know better by virtue of being brought up in a cosmopolitan Nairobi have left me puzzled and saddened."

BLAME

Some bloggers blame Mr Kibaki for the election debacle. A contributor going by the moniker, Ugandans, wrote on kenya.rcbowen.com, that the president was an "idiot" and cautioned members of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe to leave Rift Valley Province, the homeland of the Kalenjin ethnic group.

Screen grab from Mashada.com [http://www.mashada.com/]
In the past, we have stood down to injustice in the name of peace while the shrewd, criminal politicians bleed the country dry
Mashada member DaDon

But others defended Kibaki and instead criticised Mr Odinga of the opposition ODM.

Shiroh, writing on Girl in the Meadow last week accused ODM of "theatrics" and said the party's presidential candidate "has tried another (against Kikuyu coup) which has also failed".

And on Kikuyu.com, Chuchu155 said, "Why cant the Luo think for themselves and see that they are also pawns in Raila's large game? No wonder Kisumu city is as underdeveloped as Kibera."

Kisumu is the chief town of Nyanza Province, Mr Odinga's birthplace, while Kibera is a big Nairobi slum, part of Langata Constituency, which Mr Odinga represents in parliament.

Enonymouse, writing on kenya.rcbowen.com, said Mr Odinga did not win the presidency and accused him of trying to bully the Kibaki government. "He knows very well he lost & his tactic is to bully the govt using his followers," he said.

Others directed their ire towards the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) with one blogger calling for action against its chairman Samuel Kivuitu, and other electoral commissioners.

The ECK has widely been blamed for the botched-up election, after Mr Kivuitu and four other commissioners admitted that the results they announced were flawed.

Member DaDon, writing on Mashada.com, called for "severe penalties" for those who were involved in rigging. "Kivuitu and his henchmen", DaDon said, should be tried in a court of law.

JUSTICE

As the mainstream media preaches peace, the blogs are appealing for justice saying there will not be peace in Kenya if injustices are not addressed.

DaDon, writing on Mashada.com, posed, "In the past, we have stood down to injustice in the name of peace while the shrewd, criminal politicians bleed the country dry. Why should we stand for it when we are dying of hunger?" Insisting, "I do not want peace if the status quo is going to remain the same."

On the same forum, member MistaT agreed, saying "true peace" could only be cultivated "where equality and justice is at play and is perceived to be at play", adding that "when people are treated unjustly and discriminated against, they stop being at peace with themselves and one another".

Makosaimefanyika (there has been injustice, in Swahili) added his voice to these calls saying, "Kenyans have been pretending that they are peaceful, while passions have been burning. Silence in oppression cannot be peace."

Writing on kenya.rcbowen.com, member Kitu urged the military to "arrest" President Kibaki and "cut this Kibaki masquerade short because it could last forever." Kitu accused Kibaki of "slowly destroying the economy of Kenya".

Writing on the same forum, Kweli [truth, in Swahili] said President Kibaki was "staging a circus where a bogus president pretends to be president and wants to run the country without the People's MANDATE", adding that Kibaki should be arrested for "unlawfully exercising the office of the president of the republic when he is no longer the president".


This page contains links to external websites which are not subject to the usual BBC editorial controls.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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