Ever since African countries were given independence inside artificial borders, set by colonial regimes, rivalry between the tribes has continued to underlie the conflicts that plague the world's second largest continent.
Kenya, a young democracy since a few decades who adopted the English language as it's national tongue, has succeeded in transforming the beauty of it's natural landscapes into thriving tourism.
But three weeks ago the successful model of democracy has come to its biggest test yet, as the Presidential election crises snowballed into bloody clashes between supporters of the re-elected President Mwai Kibaks and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
However, under the political mask of the events lies the tribal origin of the conflict. It is widely known in Kenya that the tribal origin of all presidential candidates overpowers their political stance. President Kibaki belongs to and is backed by the Kikuyu tribe, while Mr Odinga is a son of the Luo tribe.
The immigration of villagers in Africa into the cities led different tribes to leave their own traditional territories and move to live side by side in the cities, but not without conflict when disputes flare.
The riots following the elections in Kenya, mostly in the poor urban districts, have caused the deaths of approximately 600 people and the displacement of 250,000 others, a majority of them who find refuge in neighboring Uganda, who uses military forces to block their entrance at the border area.
Dr. Moshe Tredman, an expert in Middle Eastern affairs and Islam in Africa, explains that the riots, which he says are harming the tourism and interfering with activity at the port of Mombassa, are causing economical damages of a magnitude that is nonethelss hard to estimate.
The instability is also harming countries in central Africa such as Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, whose oil supply depends on port of Mombassa. This recent instability led to a soar in these countries' oil prices, adds Tretman.
Today, most African countries suffer from governmental corruption. Kenya too has failed to eradicate its pervasive corruption, which has mounted for many Kenyans to suspicions of election result fraud.
The Muslim Population as a Deciding Factor
Dr. Tredman continued, "Besides the deep seated ethnic struggle in the elections, there is another factor. For the first time, the Muslim population has become the deciding factor. If this whole population backs one of the candidates, it could be the one to decide who will be Kenya's next leader."
In a December 2007 article about Islam in Africa written for the PRISM project (a project studying Islamic movements), Dr. Tredman draws attention to the Islamic population in Kenya. He says that since Kenya gained independence in 1963, its Muslim population has been complaining of discrimination.
President Kibaki's pro-U.S. policy regarding the so-called "war on terror" led to the arrests of Muslim suspects, some of whom were transferred for trial to neighboring countries, causing another downslide for Mr. Kibaki's popularity amongst the Muslims. Some of the Muslims turned to Mr. Odinga, Mr Kibaki's political rival. In return for their support Mr. Odinga signed an agreement in August 2007, prior to the elections, promising the Muslim populations extensive autonomy over areas where they constitute the majority. The confidential agreement was criticized by Christian leaders and other political groups in Kenya.
Even if Kofi Anan, who arrived in Kenya as a mediator, will succeed in calming the riots, the basic problems in Kenya and other African countries will not be resolved by themselves and need to be addressed for thoroughgoing change. Perhaps only the international community's aid in sustainable development and in combating corruption, which is largely fueled by the financial interests of Western businessmen, would be able to calm and stabilize the countries of the African continent—a continent rich with rare natural treasures and who's inhabitants are amongst the poorest in the world.