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Kenya Reports

Report #4:
January 2, 2008

I learned one thing this morning--it is cold at 5000 feet above sea level on the equator at 5:00 AM on the back of an open truck. Samson, Gladys' brother-in-law, obtained a truck to carry us back home. He is a policeman so there was an armed guard on the truck. Besides Gladys and me, there were Samson's wife (Gladys's sister), one of his daughters, another sister, an aunt, and a cousin. We were told to be ready by 4:00 AM so we got up at 3:30 AM. I was hoping that the this would be African time so we would leave at 6:00 AM when it was getting light out. But he got there at 5:00. The ride, besides being cold and very bumpy, was uneventful. There were almost no vehicles on the road--in two hours we passed less than ten and most of these were near Kakamega. We crossed four roadblocks where youth had put stones to stop vehicles--one was right by the Friends Peace Center--Lubao sign! When it was dark it was difficult to tell what damage had been done, but when we reached Kipkarren River, there were about ten shops burned and/or looted.

I walked through Lumakanda a half hour ago. Most shops are closed—those that are open are selling out of goods. No calling cards so I can't add time to my computer unless someone with access to calling cards can shambaza (that's the word they use here even in English) where one person can send cell phone time to another person. There was no sign of any Kikuyu staying at the police station.

For those who know Eden Grace of the FUM staff and New England Yearly Meeting, she decided to go to the guest house at Kaimosi Hospital after the election and then got stuck there. We have been in constant SMS communication [text messaging]. She just returned safely to Kisumu.

We expect that tomorrow may be another violent day as the ODM party [Orange Democratic Movement] is doing their own inauguration in Nairobi--I would not be surprised if a million people showed up for this in Nariobi. The inauguration has been banned and the ODM leaders threatened with jail. If there is a large crowd, and if it is banned (and the leaders jailed!!!), there may be extensive violence in Nairobi. Kibaki has finally agreed to negotiate, but Raila (smelling victory) has refused until Kibaki has agreed to step down. The Head of the Election Commission admits he was pressured to give the election to Kibaki. The EU commission head says there was much rigging. In fact it was so blatant and sloppily done that I can't believe that the Kibaki Government thought they could get away with it.

The death toll since the election is supposed to be 284, but I suspect it is much higher. It is in the Government's interest to keep the toll down (if they can rig an election, they surely can rig a body count). I doubt small numbers from such places as Mbale and Chavekali, which I mentioned in a previous report, are part of the total. And there are many, many little towns like these in Western Kenya. There is a report that almost
50, mostly women and children, were burned to death in a church in Eldoret (the closest town to us where we go for shopping, etc.). This is in the Rift Province which has a much larger number of Kikuyu than Western Province where Lumakanda is. (Kipkarren River is actually in Rift Valley Province).

There is a report that 10,000 armed Kalejin youth from the Eldoret area (there were 2000 people who burned down the church) are marching on Burnt Forest, an area with many Kikuyu where there have been clashes in the past. If this kind of thing is true, then we may be in for a real bloodbath on the scale of the Rwandan genocide. It is possible that the violence has gotten out of control so that the political leaders, the police, and army may not be able to control it even if there is a political settlement.

As transportation is shut down, shortages become greater. Kisumu, which was shut down the day after the election, is already reporting food and water shortages. We have 14 and a half 200 pound bags of maize in our house so we can eat "ugali" (corn mush) for a very long time. I don't like the bread here very much, but after not having any for almost a week, I would look forward to it. But under the circumstance we eat what we've got.

 

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