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Kenya Reports

Report #20
January 19, 2008

I have not written for the past two days because mostly I stayed home. This was partly
because I needed to catch up in my email and other work at home and partly because with the continued demonstrations by ODM, many people were not going anywhere as travel was so uncertain. My son-in-law who is a motorcycle taxi driver here in Lumakanda told me yesterday he earned only 200/- while he usually earns 800/- to 1,000/- on a normal day! [NOTE: /- is the symbol for Kenyan Shillings.]

I did go for a walk with Gladys yesterday to her sister's house about two miles down the hill. We passed the house of Silas Njoroge who is the Kikuyu leader at the IDP camp. His house was looted, but not burned. Further down the road his brother's house was looted and burned including all the maize (corn) he had in storage. They are considered the "richest" Kikuyu in the area, but neither one had a particularly fancy house--much like many of the people around here.

Ray Downing is a Mennonite doctor working at the hospital in Webuye (the largest town to the west of us, towards Uganda). He asks this question: Why was there no destruction of Kikuyu shops and homes in Mebuye? (This is also true of Bungoma and many other towns in the country.) He asks: "Why did these towns escape the violence? Who is studying the reasons why some places did not have violence?" I think these are really interesting questions--any students out there needing a research topic?

AGLI and FPCD (Friends for Peace and Community Development, our Kenyan partner) will be doing 40 one-day AVP-style listening workshops with the 900 employees of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) from the US which has a major presence in Kisumu. The conflicts in the country have brought out latent ethnic feelings among the staff. We will be doing 2 workshops per day for twenty days. We are bringing one HROC facilitator and one AVP facilitator from Rwanda to be part of each 3 person facilitator team. It will be really interesting to see how this goes. Sessions begin on Wednesday of this coming week.

Friends United Meeting (FUM)--Africa Office has spearheaded the arrangement of a Consultation for Quaker leaders in Kenya next week to consider the Quaker response to the current violence and crisis. The consultation starts Thursday evening and will go through Sunday. Gladys and I will be there (so don't expect any reports during that time). This will be an opportunity for the Quaker leadership in Kenya to really assert themselves as a peace Church. I hope they "grab it."

The ODM has not scheduled any more demonstrations but rather is now turning to an economic boycott of institutions controlled by Kibaki and associates. I don't know how that will go. The 3 days of attempted demonstrations resulted in 21 more deaths--all but one, I think, killed by police including some clearly innocent people (a mother sitting inside her house). While there are always ups and downs about some kind of dialogue, I don't see anything significant happening yet so the stand-off continues.

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