In Summary
  • The violence has been blamed on the high cost of living and class differences.
  • Most of the residents feel they are oppressed and that their situation is made worse by the police.

The violence witnessed in Kawangware 56, Nairobi, has exposed the simmering ethnic and political tensions in parts the country.

The residents, who are split between the National Super Alliance (Nasa) and the ruling Jubilee Party, feel a peace deal between leaders of the two opposing sides would help ease the tension and restore normalcy.

At the same time, the violence has been blamed on the high cost of living and class differences — landlords and shop owners on one hand and tenants on the other.

The wananchi have complained about the high cost of living and they want the government to address the issue.

In Kawangware, the government is viewed as being only interested in the consolidation of power, regardless of the cost of living.

The main ethnic groups in the area — the Luhya, the Kisii and the Luo — support Nasa and are against the Kikuyu, who are mainly Jubilee supporters.

The potential for a conflagration such as the one seen recently has been there for a long time, just waiting to be ignited.

It was, therefore, not surprising that the October 26 repeat presidential election would provide the spark.

It ignited the violence that engulfed the area only a few days after polling ended.

It was not lost on many observers that the hordes of youth who support the Opposition were not only keen to be heard, but also vented their anger on small businesses owned by members of the Kikuyu community.

Shops and market stalls were broken into, looted and set ablaze.

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