It has been said that former Subukia MP Koigi wa Wamwere and controversy are inseparable. Nowhere does that come out clearly than in his new book Towards Genocide in Kenya: The Curse of Negative Ethnicity in Kenya. Actually, this is not an entirely new book. Koigi added a new chapter in his earlier book Negative Ethnicity: From Bias to Genocide, to come up with the present book.
The first book was published by Seven Stories Press in New York in 2003. It warned of what would happen in Kenya should we let the monster of negative ethnicity (tribalism) entrench itself in the country. We entertained the monster and it did not disappoint. Four years after Koigi’s book was published the country burst its seams.
Kenyans turned against Kenyans in an orgy of murderous violence previously unseen in the country history of the country. Well, we had witnessed violence inspired by negative ethnicity since 1992, at the introduction of multi party politics, and which occurred predictably, every five years, in time for general elections.
The violence that took place after the contested 2007 General Election, though said to be a “fight for democracy” was just an extension of what had been happening in 1992 and 1997. The only difference is that this time inhibitions were cast aside, and our soft underbelly was exposed. Local and international media cheered on as poor Kenyans butchered fellow poor Kenyans.
If truth be told, the 2007 elections were not about issues. It was all about tribe and hatred, and negative ethnicity was on the driver’s seat. The new chapter on Koigi’s book is aptly titled Reaping the Storm, for we surely reaped the storm. The author puts events that led to the violence into sharp perspective, and he takes no prisoners. In the book, he delves into issues that are only talked about in whispers. In short he goes where the Kenyan media chose to ignore or to cover up all together.
Koigi also takes the battle to the backyard Western powers and exposes what he thinks was their role in the whole issue. Most of all he examines the relationship between various ethnic communities in Kenya and how politicians were able to exploit that and sow seeds of enmity and hatred among the people. He also addresses the issues of the coalition government, and what he thinks are its chances of success.
Going by some of the revelations in the book, it is likely that it might rub some feathers the wrong way, and that is where Koigi excels in courting controversy. Some publishers had to turn the book down, in view of the explosive contents of the new chapter. Eventually, the book found home in Mvule Africa, a publishing venture run by Barrack Muluka, another person who does not shy away from controversy. I must also mention that the book has some pictures, whose only intention must have been to cause “shock and awe”. You only need to see some of the images to see what I mean.
The book is available at leading bookstores and is retailing at Sh1,200, which I think is a bit on the higher side. Overall, the general physical outlook of the book should have benefited from more professional input.