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Out of Kenya's violence, rebirth

Forget tribal tags. This fight is about economic disparity. And it's a crucial catharsis.

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Kenya has been sitting on a bomb for 40 years. That bomb exploded only recently, triggered by a fiercely contested and now bitterly disputed December presidential election that has left this once proud nation counting its dead, cleaning debris, and seething with rage.

On the other hand, the month-long chaos could be a necessary catharsis and an ironic opportunity for the East African nation's rebirth – not a downhill tumble to a Rwanda-like genocide.

For starters, a huge relief came Friday when President Mwai Kibaki's besieged government and Raila Odinga's opposition party eased earlier rigid claims to have won. And on Monday, a government negotiator said the president's party was considering sharing power with the opposition, the Associated Press reported.

But a month into the conflict, too much of the foreign reporting is superficial and sensational, littered with epithets of "machete-wielding youths," "bows and arrows," or "this tribe or that."

As a result, the world is reading, without a peep at history, that the bloodshed blamed for more than 1,000 lives and some 300,000 displaced people is orchestrated by issues between Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe and Odinga's Luo tribe.

Wrong. The crisis in this nation of almost 37 million is fundamentally about four things: a chauvinistic concept of power, skewed economics, weak institutions, and failed politics.


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