Saturday, January 26, 2008

Which way forward for Kenya?

Every day we wake up, we have to have some kind of optimism deep in our hearts that makes us want to drag ourselves out of bed and continue with this endless uncertainty that we have to live with, as it seems we no longer have a clue what each day may bring.

Just Thursday I met up with one of ex-staff who lives in Nakuru and when I asked her if everything was ok up her way, she said “Yes, she was very well, and where she lives they had had no trouble at all and it was only further north from her where things were bad.” Imagine what it was like for her waking up Friday morning, luckily still in Nairobi, but to hear that total mayhem had broken out in her home town and that she no longer had a home to return to.

One of my regular readers has his parents and younger sisters living in Nakuru town and had been trying all day Friday to get in touch with them but to no avail and was in turmoil. He finally got hold of his father and he left me this comment this afternoon that I hope he doesn’t mind that I share with you all as it really tells you what exactly is happening on the ground in Nakuru right now;

“nakuru is in a bad way. what people saw is scary. what they didn't is scarier i am told. mungiki have been sent up there to revenge. the luo and luhya are joining up with kalenjin militia(yes that word) who now have AKs and have also descended on the city. that i am told is the reason the army is out there. So both groups proceeded to wreck havoc in their tried and tested modus operandi…mungiki decapitating people in the town centre and kalenjins burning perceived kikuyu estates to flush out kyuks who were then either stoned, shot at with arrows and AKs. The one difference is the estates that were wiped out-bangladesh and githima (near total junction) are lower middle class estates. So it’s not just a slum problem as in nbi. and far as I know there are lots of asians in the former and lots of non kyuks in the latter-just collateral damage I suppose. where my parents live most of our neighbours are kyuks. Sitting ducks? needless to say my dad and us out here are kinda scared but we’ll keep praying.”

(To fill you in a little here to explain some of what he has been told – ‘mungiki’ are a Kikuyu gang that is well known for murder, extortion and racketeering, and ‘kyuks’ is the sheng name for the Kikuyu tribe of people.)

Kofi Annan went out early this morning and flew over the Nakuru, Eldoret and Molo areas in the western regions of Kenya where there has been the most trouble. He held a press conference when he got back into Nairobi and said he was heartbroken by what he saw. He said there were “gross and systematic human rights abuses” and he urged the government “to do all it can to increase security and ensure those responsible for perpetuating these acts are held to account.” He also asked the government to seek redress for the victims of this violence, compensate them and assist them to return to their homes. (All great ideas but surely we need to know which direction is forward first?)

On Thursday when Kofi Annan finally got Kibaki and Raila to meet face to face, I understand that one of the only things they really all agreed on was that the force used by the police in order to try and quell this violence was excessive. I now hear that in Nakuru the residents were complaining that the police did nothing to help save their homes and their people but just stood by and watched.

The thing is that, although I am certainly not endorsing the way the police have been reacting to try and control the violence that has been going on, I’m not really sure what they are now expected to do in these situations. I totally agree that in the beginning when there were protests, they really where mainly peaceful and I do believe the police did most definitely fire live rounds unnecessarily and innocent people lost their lives when they certainly shouldn’t have. But now this is completely different surely. I understand from a friend’s driver the other day who was in a bus being escorted by police, that when they were attacked by a mob of about 200 wielding machetes and bows and arrows, even when the police opened fire on them, they couldn’t care less and just kept running at them and actually hacked to death two passengers before the bus could get away.

So now the police are afraid to open fire, tear gas does nothing to disperse these people as they have all learnt that (apparently – please do NOT try this at home), if you put Vicks Vapour Rub under your eyes, it combats the effects of the tear gas, if they use their batons to beat anyone, chances are if they are that close to these perpetrators, they will be hacked to death or shot with a poisoned arrow, so how on earth do they stop this continuous murder?

What slightly worries me also, although I should probably not let thoughts like this come out of my head, lest they come true, but surely not all of the police force or army voted Kibaki for President, and if that is the case, there must be some disgruntlement within the ranks of who is right and who is wrong in all of this. Now if those who do disagree get together and fight back, what happens then?

Goodness I should stop all this speculating and not let these thoughts escape from the recesses of my brain, but hey if I can’t tell you lot, who can I say it to?

Please always remember that whatever I write here is just what I hear and what I think and I cannot verify anything apart from what I have seen with my own eyes (as I’m not sure the press always get its 100% either). It is entirely my own opinion and you may agree or disagree as you wish as I would like to say that as Kenyans, we shall live in a democracy no matter what these b…….s do to us!


Dad Mzungu said...

Hi Mzungu Chuck

I have to have confidence in Annan's ability - who else is there - Kibaki, Odinga, Mkapa, the religious leaders, the ECK, the ICC?

Nope. For the moment, there is only Annan, so I pin my hopes on him, although it may be an act of futility.

My guys in Kenya have, for the first time, advised me not to travel to Kenya - imagine my disappointmeny.

Anonymous said...

two comments:

'MC' -- you do a fine job of impartial 'MCing' and also of beating the Daily Nation and the Standard to the news!

It is important not to forget that NONE of this horrible violence would have happened if the counting for the election had remained transparent. NONE OF IT. And it will stop immediately if a runoff election (with honest counting) is called (or some other solution that is perceived to be fair). Kofi Annan's trip to Nakuru has the potential to sideline the main issue. Let's hope that doesn't happen. (This is not in any way to condone the terrible things that are happening, only to be realistic about what is needed for a solution.)

A non-Kenyan lover of Kenya

Sheila said...

Hey Mzungu Chick, hang in there. You're doing a fabulous job in telling the wider world what's going on. I've really appreciated reading your blog since new year's. Take care

Sheila in Ireland


Dad Mzungu - you're probably right about Annan because at the end of the day what choice do we have right now?

Non-Kenyan lover of Kenya - totally agree that something fair has to be done soonest. Think they've unleashed something here that has been simmering for years and as you say if the elections had been transparent, none of this would have probably ever happened.

Sheila from Ireland - thank you very much for the compliments. Much appreciated. :-)