Week 5: Stop the Hippos


(The Guardian)

John Kiarie, a cheetah among hippos, decided to run for Kenya’s Parliament in 2007; at the time he was twenty-nine years old. Stating he was, “taking on the status quo”, he was part of a “New Generation” who aimed to promote the end of tribal politics and the violence since Kenyan independence.

“Well-educated and worldly-wise, they represent the so-called “cheetah” class of Kenyans who were born after independence and lack their parents’ hang-ups about ethnicity and patronage.” –The Guardian 

Kiarie built his platform on the failures of the previous “hippo” leaders, including top-level corruption, failure to create new jobs, and lack of education.

Cheetahs aim to drive economic growth in the country, promote the position of women, enforce democratic ideals, and oust the hippos (The Guardian).


Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa is due to many reasons:

  • Poor rural villages that lack infrastructure and stable economies
  • Low human capital, many stuck in extreme poverty; leads to many problems with education and healthcare
  • Physical Geography: landlocked countries are affected economically and those in tropical regions are plagued with diseases, such as Malaria
  • Cultural barriers prevent women and ethnic minorities from a access to society and the economic livelihood
  • HIV/AIDS has had tremendous impacts on the economy, politics, labor
  • Issues with Malaria, African countries experience the hardship that comes with having little to no healthcare and lack of basic needs

The IMF also identifies problems with overcoming poverty and suggests solutions:

  • Inadequate legal systems
  • Rate of growth of GDP have been low in comparison with other regions
  • Inefficiencies in resource allocation
  • Lack of education plays a major role
    •        Low productivity
  • Improving the delivery of social services will reduce poverty 

Defining Democracy

Radelet’s Emerging Africa claims that democracy requires the protection of basic civil liberties and human rights, the establishment of public institutions that are accountable to their citizens and that limit the power of their leaders, and the recognition of rights of freedom of expression, assembly, and the press.

In Africa we see the shift towards democracy as they move away from Big Man governments and towards the institutionalization of power. Substantial improvements to civil liberties and political rights have been stepping stones to stability and growth in many SSA countries. Along with this has come improved transparency and accountability, making development easier.

Kenya, as discussed in Emerging Africa, has had many problems. Following a successful election in 2002, violence in 2007 is a reminder of the difficulty establishing democracy. Foreign Policy discusses why this peaceful election does not guarantee the success of democratic ideals in Kenya.


Sparks fly in violent protests across Kenya in 2007. (Foreign Policy)

Rwanda also has not been a good example of democratic change, violence and corruption have prevented much progress. Recent elections have brought into question the transparency of the Rwandan government, as discussed by Al Jazeera.


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