Lynchings in Modern Kenya
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Lynchings in Modern Kenya

A Continuing Human Rights Scandal (Amended update, March 2024)

About the Book

Mob justice (or injustice) killings; jungle justice (more a Nigerian term); mob retribution killings; also commonly known, in Kenya's media, as lynchings. Different terms for a variable sociocultural phenomenon that has happened, and that continues more or less to happen, not just in America but around the world.

In modern Kenya, according to Kenyan and other media reports about them, lynchings are virtually never by hanging (a favored method, rather, of suicides), they are never unambiguously with racial motivation (virtually all are black-on-black, they are never white-on-black), they may very rarely if ever be motivated by victims' sexual orientation or gender identity (which today, were it otherwise, the world would very likely become aware).

What lynchings in Kenya are, again according to Kenyan and other media reports, is common, savage, for numerous alleged reasons, rarely prosecuted, with inequitable access to basic resources as one apparent contributing cause, a major human rights scandal, and likely, while they continue so, to hinder Kenya's development. What they nevertheless are as well, given what both America and Kenya see as higher security and other priorities (as reflected, for America, by far less than careful, compelling note of them in decades of USDOS Kenya country reports on human rights practices), is no compelling human rights problem. What their comparatively high numbers from ca. 1992 appear to be (as compared with annual numbers from America's recorded lynchings history), in significant part, is an historically-shaped concomitant of Kenya's political instability, larceny and violent crime rates, and societal anxiety, insecurity, and fear concerning the same.

Lynchings in Modern Kenya, then, is a book of three conferences papers, a postscript, and several addenda that establish or suggest all of the above with regard to mob justice murder in today's Kenya. In being greatly concerned about and condemning these killings, it is activist Christian anthropology, paying attention to contexts, doing description from mostly Kenyan media materials, doing analysis to try to understand, not refraining from Christian-biblical value judgments of manifest evils.

Much of the book is supported in what it says by a linked Kenya Lynchings Database (KLD) of digitized media materials. These materials now concern, in the book's updated February 2024 version, over 3,100 reported lynched persons for Kenya for the years ca. 1980-2023, organized in a file directory and on/with an accompanying spreadsheet. The spreadsheet, while still highly incomplete, is yet a start toward a valuable analytical tool for the (further) study of Kenyan lynchings; and while the more than 3,100 lynching victims represent but a fraction (likely well less than a third?) of the total number of Kenya's lynching victims since ca. 1980, it is yet a start toward recording a more complete number and raising international awareness of a horrific, continuing human rights problem in Kenya and beyond. (The book also references mob retribution killing and incident statistics from RUSI Nairobi that would have at least 2,095 Kenyan lynchings for just the five years 2019-2023.)

The book's foreword is by Robert W. Thurston, Professor Emeritus of History, Miami University, and author of Lynching: American Mob Murder in Global Perspective (2011).

N.B.: The book's amended/March 2024 update is primarily, first, to correct one or two incorrect dates in the final addendum of the February 27, 2024 update; second, to add to one part of that final addendum's response to Manwaring's (2022) review of the book.

About the Author

Rob McKee
Robert Guy McKee

Robert Guy McKee (Rob) was born September 21, 1952 at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Bethesda, MD. He grew up in upstate New York and Framingham, MA, graduating from Rush-Henrietta High School (south of Rochester, NY) in 1970. His bachelor’s degree (1975), in Social Relations, is from Harvard; his master’s (1985) and doctorate (1995), both in Anthropology, are from the University of Rochester.

Rob married Carol Elaine Chiapperino on January 3, 1976. They became members of Wycliffe Bible Translators later that year and served nineteen years in Africa with Wycliffe’s partner organization, SIL International. From 2010 to the present, Rob has been part of the Applied Anthropology faculty at Dallas International University (formerly the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics) in southwest Dallas.

Besides Christian anthropology, Rob's professional interests include Mangbetu linguistics and anthropology, tale analysis, subtitles in ethnographic film, lynchings in Kenya, and more. He has published several Mangbetu linguistics papers (e.g., "Concerning Meegye and Mangbetu's Bilabial Trills"); his anthropology dissertation was on Meegye-Mangbetu death compensations as intergroup rites of passage. He has published two other Leanpub books—namely, Destination: Christian Anthropology (2022) and "Let's Understand Each Other!": Meegye-Mangbetu Death Compensations in the Forest of Alliances (2023).

Rob and his wife reside in Duncanville, TX, just outside Dallas. They have four adult daughters and seven grandchildren.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword to the First Edition
  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • Preface to the 2024 Edition
  • Preface to the Amended/March 2024 Edition
  • Chapter 1: Lynchings in Modern Kenya
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. Seven assertions concerning lynchings in modern Kenya
    • 3. Conclusion
    • Appendix 1: April-August 2013 Media Pieces That Report over 1.3 Lynched Persons per Day
    • Appendix 2: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Relevant articles
    • Appendix 3: A comparative table of the last two categories of “Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons” in the U.S. Department of State’s 2011 Kenya country report on human rights practices
    • Appendix 4: Total and per capita lynchings, Kenya 1993 and 2011 vs. U.S. 1892 and 1930
  • Chapter 2: More on Lynchings in Kenya
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. USDOS Kenya country reports on human rights practices as a source on Kenyan lynchings
    • 3. Conclusion
    • Figure 1: The Relative Importance of Lynchings in the 2008 versus 2015 USDOS Kenya Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
    • Figure 2: Data of Interest, Including Numbers of Mob-Violence Killings as Available, from USDOS Kenya Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 1992-2018
  • Chapter 3: “Tell the world the facts”
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. The apparent mushrooming of Kenyan lynchings from ca. 1991
    • 3. Lynchings globally, through their known history, as occurring in turbulent, changing times
    • 4. Turbulent, changing times as the context of the mushrooming and continuation of modern Kenyan lynchings
    • 5. Database facts about Kenyan lynchings, to the end that they stop
    • 6. Conclusion
    • Appendix 1: Photos
    • Appendix 2: Screen snips of parts of the Kenya Lynchings Database
    • Appendix 3: Tables of numbers of lynched persons
    • Appendix 4: The current spreadsheet’s reported fifteen (15) lynched persons (and the lynching events concerned) of April 2019
  • Postscript
    • Kenyan lynchings continue today
    • Regarding several of the few literature mentions of McKee (2013)
    • Additional sources relevant to understanding Kenyan lynchings
    • Regarding lynchings of “Sexual and Gender-Based Violence” suspects
    • Cross-racial lynchings virtually absent from Kenya
    • Are we not at risk, in America today, of seeing lynchings resume?
    • Again, stop ALL lynchings, NOW
  • Addenda
  • Works Cited
  • Notes

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