Reactions from Kenya

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The New York Times, reporting from Kenya, where the government has declared Thursday a national holiday.

This town, in the epicenter of Kenya’s Obamaland — the same area where Barack Obama’s father was from and where some of his cousins, half-brothers and a very gregarious 80-something step-grandmother still live — exploded into cheers when the news broke that Mr. Obama had won the presidency.

Thousands of people sang, danced, blew whistles, honked horns, hugged, kissed and thumped on drums — all down the same streets where not so long ago huge flames of protest had raged.

“Who needs a passport?” people yelled. “We’re going to America!”

…The last time this many Kenyans were riveted by an election — their own, in December 2007 — riots erupted after the opposition candidate lost and Kenya’s incumbent president won. Widespread allegations of vote rigging sent tens of thousands of young men into the streets, to loot, burn and kill. Much of Kisumu, usually a relaxed town along the steamy, hippo-infested shores of Lake Victoria, was ravaged.

But on Wednesday, many of the same young men who had been doing the burning, the looting and worse, were all smiles, part of the happy wave of emotion that coursed through Kisumu… “This has restored my faith in democracy,” said Duncan Adel, a computer technician who had been part of the election protests last year.

The Times adds that there is an old joke in the regions of Kenya that are dominantly Luo, an ethnic minority group that claimed Obama’s father. A Luo man will be president of the United States, the joke goes, before president of Kenya. Improbably, that joke has come true.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest