Civil Society Activism in Kenya

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Civil society activism has a long history in Kenya, dating back to the movement for independence in the colonial period. Advances in modern technology and the proliferation of "digital villages" have enabled civil society activism to spread in Kenya, in both peaceful and violent forms.[1] According to a report by the Open Society Foundations, post-election violence of 2007 was partly enabled by text messaging, the internet and social media.[2] The report also states that civil society activism harnessed modern technology and played a positive role in mobilising people in the 2010 referendum on the new constitution.[3] More recently there have been major demonstrations against a move by MPs to secure higher salaries.[4]

Protests against oil exploration

The oil discoveries made by Tullow Oil in Turkana County have been welcomed by the Kenyan government, but have also sparked protests.[5] During a two-day consultative meeting held in the regional capital of Turkana country, Lodwar, in June 2012, community leaders, for instance, accused local officials of illegally acquiring title deeds, misappropriating community-owned land and using intimidation and violence to displace communities within the exploration areas.[6] Pastoralists have complained of disruption to their way of life.[7] Vanoil has also encountered local protest in its exploration activities.[8] In October 2013, reports stated that 400 people had taken part in a protest against Tullow's exploration at the Twiga 1 and Ngamia-1 camp in Turkana County.[9] James Lomenen, MP for Turkana South, has been accused of leading the protest and inciting violence.[10] Local people were said to be angered by the lack of jobs and contracts offered by Tullow.[11] Tullow was temporarily forced to suspend its actvities, and there were reports of property destruction and looting.[12]

References

  1. "Mapping digital media: Kenya" Open Society Foundations, 5 February 2013.
  2. "Mapping digital media: Kenya" Open Society Foundations, 5 February 2013.
  3. "Mapping digital media: Kenya" Open Society Foundations, 5 February 2013.
  4. Kenya civil society activists protest over legislators’ pay”.Daily Monitor, 14 May 2013.
  5. "Predicting Africa’s Next Oil Insurgency: The Precarious Case of Kenya’s Turkana County" Think Africa Press, 13 September 2013.
  6. "Predicting Africa’s Next Oil Insurgency: The Precarious Case of Kenya’s Turkana County" Think Africa Press, 13 September 2013.
  7. Turkana pastoralists oppose Tullow Oil proposal”.Standard Digital, 29 July 2013.
  8. Vanoil Energy Ltd: News Releases" Vanoil, retrieved 28 October 2013
  9. "Kenya MP accused of inciting protests against oil firm Tullow" Reuters, 31 October 2013.
  10. "Kenya MP accused of inciting protests against oil firm Tullow" Reuters, 31 October 2013.
  11. "Kenya MP accused of inciting protests against oil firm Tullow" Reuters, 31 October 2013.
  12. "Kenya MP accused of inciting protests against oil firm Tullow" Reuters, 31 October 2013.