Friday, January 18, 2008


Well, thank god it's Friday.

The three days of protesting by the ODM party are officially over, which is a relief. As you may (or may not, if you've just had quite enough of my opinion on all this), have gathered, I did no midday posting today with my Blackberry as things were really kind of quiet here in Nairobi and actually, I’m finding this continuous daily violence so incredibly depressing and I just couldn’t really face sharing out that misery.

There was a bit of a cat and mouse chase game going on around lunchtime in the Central Business District when one of the 'Pentagon' members (which is Raila's team of big wigs), Charity Ngilu, was dropped off outside a cosmetics shop a couple of doors down from where I was having lunch.

The police got a little twitchy and a group of about 20 Ninja Turtles were summoned in their full regalia to stand on the street opposite the entrance to the shop she was in, and meanwhile it seemed, Charity shopped, (as any woman would of course, if free in her Friday lunch hour.)

Anyway this went on for about half an hour - with us joking about how Charity Ngilu's been wearing a head scarf for the last few days, and so she was obviously just shopping for extensions or a bit of a weave - as the shop she was in is well know for great prices on those kinds of things. Then, when her large four wheel drive with dark tinted windows turned up, she casually strolled out of the shop with her three or so bodyguards in tow, crossed the road right in front of the riot police, and hopped back into her car, with one of the riot police waving her goodbye – which I thought was priceless!

It was all quite theatrical really, and after Raila going on the news last night and telling the press that they had 'hidden tactics' for their protests each day, and that each day this would change, I have to assume that Charity was probably a decoy. Anyway she proved a point as she put the whole of Nairobi on high alert for who might turn up where next and everyone (not only the police I might add) started to get incredibly twitchy and there was a lot of rushing away from the area, and the moving of cars out of town.

We left not long after this and then ran into yet more of the ODM team, James Orengo and Martin Shikuku, who had come from Friday prayers at the mosque in the centre of town and led a small group of around 50 or 60 people through the street chanting the usual “Kibaki must go” and “No Raila, No Peace”.

We followed along behind for a while in the car as they happened to be going the same way as us and what I found very interesting was as they walked, they came across PNU supporters who started shouting at them to stop the protests and let them live in peace.

We left them after a short while but I understand they were soon dispersed with the usual few cans of tear gas and I heard that they arrested the veteran MP Martin Shikuku, and that was kind of that for the city centre as far as I could see.

Apparently there were some bonfires lit on the Mombasa road to try and block the traffic and some few people ran around with signs supporting Raila.

Later in the afternoon we swung by the Kibera slums where we were yesterday but apart from a few police, things looked relatively quiet on the outskirts. Then we drove further down the road and could hear a lot of shooting going on very close by within the slum, but I certainly did not venture in to find out what that was all about. I later found out that at least 6 were shot dead and god only knows how many injured, as the police said these people were the perpetrators of the hijacking and the subsequent looting of a train in Kibera yesterday evening.

Meanwhile in other places in Kenya things were not as quiet. My manager called from Mombasa to say they were trapped in the shop with rioting on the street right outside the building for over 2 hours, but they shut down and managed to escape out of the back and get themselves all home safely. He sent me a text to say he was home but things were not good in town and at least one person was shot dead.

In Kisumu, which is Raila’s home town, we hear there was trouble throughout the day and again at least one killed, but in Eldoret (which has had a lot of trouble in the past few days), things were very quiet with people telling the press there that they were tired and hungry from the continuous skirmishes and just couldn't bring themselves to protest yet again today.

In Narok town, which is to the west of here, on the way to the Maasai Mara, I’ve heard that at least 5 people were killed when the different tribes in the area turned against each other and in turn against the police with machetes and bows and arrows.

Someone I overheard this evening who was looking up at the black cloudy sky overhead summed up the day:
“Well it looks like we’ll have some good heavy rain tonight.
It will be good to put out the bonfires and wash all the blood away.”


Smokey said...

Thanks so much for this! My first time in your blog...and I LOVE it! Pretty neat....and refreshing! I'll definitely be a regular! name is George, and I'm a Kenyan based in Canada.


Hi George, Karibu. Hope that Canadian climate's not freezing your butt off! Not sure if I could handle it myself.

Smokey said...

Well....I'm holding my own pretty good! Winter in the Toronto area is generally not as harsh as out west (with the exception of Vancouver) or towards the East. What are your plans for today?

By the way, was that your foot at the pool?!