Kenya: Nation on a Knife Edge

Channel 4: Unreported World

The recent violence in Kenya happened in a country long held up as Africa's success story, a stable democracy among dictatorships, civil war and famine. It is with an awareness of this loss that reporter Aidan Hartley, who lives in Kenya and was raised there, attempts to uncover the root causes of the current troubles and imagine the future in a country where unemployment has doubled since the end of British rule and the population continues to grow.


Hartley and producer George Waldrum begin their film with interviews at newly destroyed villages - we see blood that is still drying and the skull of a small child still smouldering in the embers. This is then followed up at overcrowded schools - 120 to a class - and hospitals - overworked doctors, burns victims sharing beds. Doctors at a charity-run family-planning clinic tell Hartley that economic and population growth are simply cancelling each other out. At least twice as many such facilities are needed, they say, but resources are stretched, and right-wing western donors don't look kindly on organisations suspected of providing abortions.


When Hartley speaks to embryonic guerrilla forces ('I never thought I'd see this in Kenya,' he says) it becomes quite clear that the political disputes which started this violence are deeply based in issues of land, and that there simply isn't enough of it. Tribes are profoundly aggrieved at the lack of land and are prepared to fight to the death for it. Hartley introduces us to a rural family - 22 children, 40 grandchildren and growing - sharing 27 acres from which to source their food. There is no land to pass on to the next generation. 'We're in trouble,' says an elder.


"A tragic picture of a proud and beautiful country"
- The Observer

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Kenya: Nation on a Knife Edge, Channel 4: Unreported World | Quicksilver Media