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Kenya Reports

Report #31
February 11, 2008

On Friday Kofi Annan announced that an agreement has being reached between the two sides and the details will be available early this week. People are guardedly hopeful that some accommodation will be reached. But, as they say, the devil is in the details. (One of my favorite explanations of the current crisis is from a woman who said, "On Dec 30
Satan came to Kenya.") I would not be surprised that the agreement when announced might lead to another round of violence as the "hardliners" on both sides will feel that they have been sold out by the compromises. Hopefully I am wrong.

The changes are supposed to be far-reaching. I have some qualms about the fact that 8 negotiators and their political parties are chartering the course of the country, meaning that women, youth, the religious community, NGO's, and the business community are all, as usual, left out. This was the case with the compromise in Burundi and the result has been a squabbling, ineffective government. When will the world develop a system where all parts of society negotiate the conditions for a country's existence and well-being? I am certain that both political parties will see that their interests are properly served before those of the other actors in the country. It is possible that the “compromise” may lead to a political storm (rather than a violent storm) by those who have not been consulted. Or perhaps everyone is so tired that they will accept anything handed to them.

Lumakanda town, this morning (Monday), has been more like a normal day than any other since Dec 30. Many people are in town going about their various businesses, the motorcycle taxi drivers are busy, and I can easily buy a newspaper!

What the Daily Nation (Kenya's largest newspaper with a circulation of over 1,000,000!) covered today was all those affected by the violence--children not in school, children in
IDP camps, colleges and other institutions who have lost their staff, manufacturing businesses that are closed, hospitals and other government offices which are understaffed as the employees fled, roads that aren't being built, lost employment, and the other costs of 6 weeks of violence and stalemate. A Quaker in Nairobi whose wholesale establishment was looted says he will re-open, but not now. A large-scale farmer I know says he is cutting back on the acreage of maize (corn) he will plant next month because he does not know if he will get seeds and fertilizer, or what price he might have to pay. The cost of travel has almost doubled--for example, a matatu from Lumakanda to Kakamega has gone from 120/- to 300/- ; and the price increase does not seem like it is going to go down to where it was before. I have seen people wanting to get a ride in a matatu asking for the price and, seeing that it is more than they have, not taking the ride.[Note: /- is the symbol for Kenyan Shilling.]

Okay, I need to report some good news. There is a place in Kenya called the Laikipia Nature Conservancy ( It is a 100,000 acre preserve next to Lake Baringo in the drier parts of the Rift Valley. They have a 60 person education center and they have done peacemaking activities there in the past in addition to their normal purpose of conservation education. Right now they have 40 youth from the Nairobi slums, many of whom were involved in destruction, there for a week of "healing". They needed some help so the United States Institute of Peace [USIP], which has supported both AGLI and the Conservancy in the past, recommended us to them. As a result Getry Agizah, Peter Serete, and Martin Oloo, all young, experienced AVP facilitators, are leading these youth through the AVP course on esteem,
communication, cooperation, and non-violent conflict resolution each morning. In the afternoon others lead sessions on art, drama, music, etc. The three facilitators had problems getting there because the bus broke down. I asked Getry if she was happy and she reported, "We are very happy and glad to have the Nairobi youth. Life is simple and peaceful. Just finished the sessions. We are on the truck going around the forest (where there is much wildlife)." Likewise we are continuing the daily listening sessions with employees at the Center for Disease Control in Kisumu. As the situation in Kisumu has calmed down these trainings seem to have become routine with the participants being energized at the end of each day with the training activity that is called "On the Way Forward."

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