Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The first ‘working day’ of the Kenyan year.

Being the 2nd of January, and the first working day of the year where we generally all rush back into the office and are rearing to go after our Christmas break, today seemed a little strange.

I started off in the supermarket at 8.30 as soon as it opened in order to catch the few deliveries that had hit the shelves before the hordes of panic buyers rushed in. Basically, apart from their being absolutely no meat to speak of, no bread on the shelves and a meagre offering of mostly expensive fruit and very little veg to speak of, the shelves were fairly well stocked considering the mass panic buying that has been going on in the last few days, where the queues have been absolutely shocking and the supermarkets so overwhelmed that they have had to restrict the numbers through the door at any one time.

After doing my shopping in a relatively calm atmosphere, which was quite a novelty considering the antics of the last few days, I then headed for town and my office which is on the periphery.

We got there without any issues at all on the road - 'we' being my driver and I (my driver’s a rather large burly Luo chap who everyone thinks is my bodyguard and is armed – he’s not actually – but people often ask me the same!).

Once in the office people slowly trickled in. The police were stopping all the cars and matatus on the way into the city centre first thing this morning and were making all the passengers get out and walk to work, although as the day progressed, this seem to relax and as I was coming home this afternoon there were even a few public buses running.

It ended up being quite an odd day though. Some of the banks didn’t open before mid morning (if at all), and most of the shops, apart from the supermarkets and the odd cafe, stayed shut throughout the whole day. Traffic was easy, with very few cars on the road which was quite a nice change to the norm, but the few shops that were open were bustling with business.

Talk was all of politics and what had happened where and to whom, and who was still trapped in their houses surrounded by trouble. SMS's came through throughout the morning warning of roadblocks being manned by gangs on the road out of Nairobi to the west of the country, Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu, where apparantly the vehicles were all being stopped and all those of the wrong tribes (depending on who was manning the road block), were being thrown out and allegedly threatened with their lives.

We called around and found all our staff safe and well – although some of them are not able to move out of their estates for fear of their own safety. In some of the slums there is still a stand off between the different tribal factions with armed police in the middle keeping the two sides apart with live gunfire to stop them fighting.

Raila, the opposition leader disputing the results, has insisted that he will go ahead with his ‘peaceful’ demonstration in the morning, but after the last few days of absolutely shocking violence rocking the country, absolutely no-one trusts that the demonstration will be at all peaceful as all it will take is one tribesman from the wrong side to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and it will more than likely all go pear shaped.

The government is insisting that the rally is illegal, but the opposition say they have gone through all of the right channels to announce the demonstration and are calling their supporters to go ahead with it.

We have no idea how it will pan out and all we can do is wait and see, but the police and military have been deployed all over the city and I’m sure will try and stop people marching into the city centre at all costs.

I understand Desmond Tutu is headed our way for a spot of mediation. All I can say is I hope he’s doing a lot of praying for us right now too, as I really think we will need it tomorrow.

Please wish us luck and a peaceful outcome.


Gorilla Bananas said...

This is the world's No.1 news story, with horrible atrocities reported. Do you think the election was rigged and the other guy would have won if it had been fair? Stay safe, Chicky.


Yes I do believe the election was rigged - but certainly didn't expect anything else and also believe both sides did some rigging - not just the winner so wouldn't like to bet on the fact that it may change the outcome or not. However they are trying to fight for democracy and I'm with them there but doubt this is really the best way to go about it somehow.
Mr Bananas, it is a jungle out there ...... Oh, that's supposed to be your view not mine!