“The War for History” part ten: What was going on in the State Department on Kenya’s failed election, recognizing change at IRI–and how the 2007 exit poll controversy turned into a boon for IRI in Kenya
Kenya post-independence history is covered in two key current books for general audiences and I recommend both.
The more comprehensive is Charles Hornsby’s Kenya: A History Since Independence which I read a few months ago. Charles brings the advantages of both scholarly training and deep personal experience including several years living in Kenya and much prior research and writing and “Kenya watching”, while at same time offers the independence that comes from earning his living separately, presently as a corporate compliance official. Hornsby’s book is over 900 pages of deep detail including significant attention to economic policy and the business history that is so essentially a part of Kenya’s politics. Hornsby’s work will give the basic background on the past interactions and alignments of most of Kenya’s current political figures during the Jomo Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki years.
Historian Daniel Branch’s Kenya: Between Hope and Despair is also excellent and it is the book I recommended for a quick primer for a friend who was considering a short term election-related assignment in the country in late 2012. At just under 400 pages it is a much quicker read and will well serve the needs of the shorter term generalist for a tighter summary of the key events; along with the crucial Chapter 12 (titled “Back to the Future”) of Hornsby’s history–with the best detailed summary I’ve read of the vital 2007 campaign and election–Branch’s book will give general readers some understanding of the lay of the land in public affairs in Kenya in a few short hours.
A priceless bit of diplomatic history, from October 1, 1975, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger meets with Kenyan Foreign Minister Waiyaki at the U.S. United Nations Mission in New York. You just have to read it:
The Secretary: It is good to see you here.
Foreign Minister Waiyaki: We are enjoying ourselves very much.
The Secretary: I was in Nairobi before your independence. I went to see the animals. I was there in June. It was very pleasant. How long are you staying here?
Foreign Minister Waiyaki: I hope to leave tomorrow. I have been here a long time.
The Secretary: You were here for the Special Session of the UN?
Foreign Minister Waiyaki: Yes.
The Secretary: How did you get into your present job? Were you a career officer in the Foreign Ministry?
Foreign Minister Waiyaki: No, I am a member of Parliament. I was formerly Deputy Speaker of the Assembly.
The Secretary: The only way I could get into the State Department was to be appointed Secretary of State. I was told that I don’t have the qualifications for entry into the Foreign Service.
The Secretary: What are the major problems in our relations?
Foreign Minister Waiyaki: Our relations are good.
The Secretary: I can’t understand Foreign Ministers saying that our relations are good. Normally everyone says they are lousy.
Foreign Minister Waiyaki: Relations are good.
The Secretary: I agree with you. Our relations are good. It is pleasant to hear this. Usually I am told that everything we are doing is wrong. You have a very constructive policy and our intention is to support you within the limits the Congress will go along with.
Foreign Minister Waiyaki: I hope Congress will understand the requests which we make.
The Secretary: Congress does not go along with the requests I make, but we are going to get them under control soon.
Foreign Minister Waiyaki: I am in the strange position where I am a congressman myself, but I still get pushed around by other congressmen.
The Secretary: You have a parliamentary system?
Foreign Minister Waiyaki: Yes.
The Secretary: You have only one party?
Foreign Minister Waiyaki: Yes, but I am questioned by backbenchers and also by assistant ministers sometimes.
The Secretary: We have had some talks on arms. We are trying to put together a military assistance package for Kenya.
Foreign Minister Waiyaki: I hope you can move quickly.
The Secretary: What is holding things up?
Mr. Coote: We thought we had some F5A aircraft lined up for Kenya. They would have been available immediately at a low cost. This was the big advantage of that package. However, it did not work out.
The Secretary: Why didn’t it work out?
The Speaker is no stranger to Africa.
“I met my husband at a course called the History of Africa South of the Sahara, and I have been studying Africa for decades,” Pelosi said in a brief interview.
“At long last the United States and the world is treating the continent, and individual countries, with the respect that they deserve,” she added.
At the conclusion of her U.S. AFRICOM engagement, Pelosi said that she was leaving confident “that General Ward and all of those working with him have a respectful attitude to the countries of Africa, want to work with them to develop solutions, and I have confidence that they will succeed.”