I asked Ntimama about the rule of law in the Rift Valley. If the Masai have a just cause, is there no legal remedy? "The law applied is a discriminatory law," he replied. Should the Masai then just take the law into their own hands? "I have never told anybody to fight," Ntimama protested. Laughing, he added, "We never really cleansed anywhere other than Enoosupukia"--a village from which 10,000 Kikuyus were displaced. So, then, they did cleanse in Enoosupukia? Ntimama roared with laughter. "I deny ethnic cleansing," he declared. Did he have any idea what would happen to the refugees from Enoosupukia? "I can't say," he replied, shrugging. "Maybe the United Nations is trying to find a solution."
Later I asked Attorney General Wako why he didn't arrest Ntimama for incitement. "If you arrest Ntimama, there would be riots," Wako replied. So much for the rule of law.
WHY, then, has Kenya not disintegrated? What happened in Rwanda scared Kenya. The fact that civil war has not already occurred is an indication of how dreaded the prospect of war is. Kenyans are no strangers to war. They fought the Mau Mau insurgency against the British in the 1950s. More than 11,000 guerrillas were killed in that war, and thousands more were detained and tortured, or displaced to horrific concentration camps, where many died. (The Mau Mau, for their part, killed only ninety-five whites, including thirty-two civilians.) Nearly all those involved in the Mau Mau struggle were Kikuyu, and Kikuyu elders have been counseling restraint.
"The memories of Mau Mau are still with us," says a man I'll call Peter, fifty-eight, another embittered Kikuyu who was driven from his farm by Kalenjin warriors. In 1953, when Peter was sixteen, his family was displaced from the Equator Ranch of the settler leader Lord Delamere. Three of his cousins, suspected Mau Mau guerrillas, were killed by Kikuyu "home guards"--natives employed by the British. "We do not favor any war or conflict, because they only bring misery," Peter says. "The most important thing we want is peace."
Kenyans generally are much better educated and better informed than their neighbors. A generation of Kenyans has grown up with the benefits of relative stability, which have resulted in a substantial middle class. Elsewhere in Africa the vertical ties of ethnicity represent both the only source of identity and the only channel for economic and political power. Kenya's middle class cuts horizontally across ethnic lines. Urban Kenyans have as much in common with other urbanites as with the rural members of their groups. And the Kenyans who have been most provoked by the clashes--the Kikuyu and the Luo --are also among the best educated.
Gibson Kamau Kuria, a Kikuyu lawyer who is the dean of Kenya's human-rights movement, and who once spent ten months in prison for his advocacy, puts it this way:"The Kikuyus and the Luos are most involved in the market economy, and they were in the forefront of the struggle for independence, as well as in the move toward democracy. They understand that the problem is one of bad government and corrupt economics, not bad tribes. Once you conceptualize the problem as dealing with bad governance, then you know the solution lies in good government, human rights, and sound economic management, not tribal warfare."