With this week’s news round-up, the anti-government protests continue to dominate the news cycle. We will give you the latest developments on this front and some of the other, larger news stories that have been somewhat subsumed by the focus that we have all had on the protests.
‘Let’s save our country’
‘Let’s save our country’ was the headline for both The Standard and The Nation’s daily papers on Thursday of this week. The editorial teams from Kenya’s biggest media houses chose to publish a joint editorial. This is unprecedented.
The news houses do not join forces, and the fact that they have should tell us something (as if we don’t already know it) about the present state of our country.
“At the end of the day, we all live in one nation, sailing on the same boat”, read both The Standard and The Nation’s front pages. “If it sinks, we will all go down with it. Nobody will be spared.”
With the rift between Raila and Ruto looking no more likely to close today than it did last week, the sense of desperation behind this joint editorial is palpable. In what is being considered an escalation of the conflict, and perhaps a more personal shift to it, Odinga’s bodyguard was arrested and released this week.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission, as per their Twitter handle, states that, as of the 21st of July, there had been 28 extra-judicial killings perpetrated by the police on protesters. The heavy-handedness of the police is being considered as an accelerant in this conflict, and part of the reason why tensions have seemingly escalated.
More news on the Shakahola Massacre, including a latest death count
Somewhat underrepresented in the media on account of the recent protests, Kenya’s most recent national embarrassment, the Shakahola Massacre, has seen new development.
Six more bodies were exhumed from burial sites in the area surrounding the Shakahola Forest. This latest round of exhumations takes the death toll for what is being called the Shakahola massacre up to 425 deaths.
There are thought to be some 600 or so people still missing and unaccounted for from the region, prompting fears that this already high number could yet rise.
The world still remembers the 1978 breaking of the story of the Peoples Temple cult, led by Jim Jones. That death cult saw the death – by suicide and murder – of some 900 Peoples Temple members.
In 2000, the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God cult resulted in a death toll – by suicide, fire and ritualistic poisoning – of some 924 people.
Kenya’s Shakahola Massacre might eventually amount to worse than these two.
A drinking nation’s drinking problem
An interesting angle presented in The Nation’s Monday paper is about how, despite the high and rising cost of living in Kenya, alcoholism is also on the rise. The article makes reference to the mystery of these seemingly competing narratives: the high cost of living vs. the regular spending on alcohol, a presumed luxury.
Alcoholism promotes, and The Nation’s article makes this clear, a far messier relationship between a person and his/her wallet than the above statement suggests at. We all know this, of course.
Regardless, it is still worth commenting on that despite the fact of obvious and obstructive increases to the price of everyday living, 14% of the nation’s 25-35 year-olds are classed as having a severe alcohol use disorder. Perhaps, however, this relationship should be considered as more causal than it is being presented. With such obvious difficulties abounding the poorest in Kenya, should it surprise us that the youth are turning to drink?