IHJR Project in Kenya

Ethnic violence and animosity erupted in Kenya after the elections of December 2007, causing 650,000 people to flee their homes and becoming refugees within their own country (known as Internally Displaced Persons or IDPs). The vast majority of these people have still not been able to return to their homes. Together with the Forum for Society and History (FSH), the IHJR maintains that if Kenya is ever to reconcile with its past, then the fate of the country’s IDPs needs to be addressed.

With this goal in mind, the IHJR initiated a shared report under the leadership of Dr. Hassan Mwakimako entitled ‘Narratives as a political discourse of identity: interviews with internally displaced persons in Kenya resulting from the post-electoral violence of 2007-2008’. In spring and summer of 2010, Dr. Mwakimako and other Kenyan scholars conducted over 30 interviews with IDPs and asked them to reflect on their own stories of displacement. Using these narratives as a basis, the report will exemplify the hardship that Kenyan IDPs continue to face. In June/July 2010 the IHJR went on a monitoring mission to Kenya.

As Kenya heads towards the next elections in 2012, the tragedy of the IDP remains unresolved. Instead, the IDP has become a term of political jargon used in the public sphere by politicians and others wishing to advance their ambitions. This common narrative, the voices of real IDPs from Nyanza and the Rift Valley suggests the identity of IDPs has transcended the tragedy of post-election violence to present an intense field of inquiry about history and Kenyan society that should interest not just historians but other social scientists.
—Dr. Hassan Mwakimako, University of Nairobi