Tensions in Nairobi are running high this week. Many Kenyans are as adamant in support of fighting Al-Shabab in Somalia as I am against it. I feel like I’ve seen this movie before, and it was awful the first time.
But right now people driven by sense of justified righteousness. Being right doesn’t mean you win, or that things resolve peacefully. Thirty years from now, will people look back at this defining moment as one of glory or folly? America couldn’t win a war in Somalia, just like it cannot win in Afghanistan in short of 20 years. Even worse, something I noticed today from an old talk by Erik Hersman points out that Kenya is probably the victim of a much more complex set of issues than any Kenyans realize:
Why this is more than just about war:
Kenya is multi-ethnic. North-Eastern Kenya is lawless and hardly Kenyan. Do you think this is a smart place to launch attacks against Somali rebels? Over time, who is going to have the home-turf advantage?
And if you think these actions are not politically motivated, look at the regional divisions from the 2007 election:
Four years ago, many Kenyans were rebel-roused into ethnic clashes by political leaders who wanted to win an election. Let’s hope that this time the people have wised up to emotional manipulation by leaders. The only way we resolve this problem with Al-Shabab is fixing the lawlessness of North-Eastern Kenya, especially the chaos around Dadaab – the world’s largest refugee camp. It will also take community people diffusing tensions themselves.
Alternative strategy to open conflict?
Need to see what diffusing tension looks like in practice? Watch this 7 minute video about Fatuma Adan (Horn of Africa Development Initiative) and her way to resolving this problem. (Video is from Writing-And-Healing blog):
As the blogger from Writing and Healing says…
Watching this video, I am moved to tears—especially seeing how she navigated when conflict arose among the young men playing soccer…. Ms. Adan is changing everything for her village by leading these young people…. this new story offers a tangible, creative way toward peace.