April 9, 2008
I guess we can label
this report after the cynical American proverb, "No
good deed goes unpunished." We can start with my speeding ticket.
On Tuesday last week Gladys and I went to court in Eldoret. There is
the civil court side and the criminal court side--your dear coordinator
was a criminal suspect at this point. We got to court about 10:30 a.m.
and were told that the police from Turbo had not yet brought in the report.
We should come back at 2:00 p.m. We returned at 2 o'clock and there was
still no report. No one was at the court for speeding tickets, but rather
for multiple infractions mostly by matatu (mini-bus) owners and drivers.
I was one of three people who were given a ticket that day so one would
presume that the others would be in court also. At least ten vehicles
were stopped while we were being given our ticket including a white sedan
that speedily passed me up right before the stop. The rest did not get
a ticket. Were they just let go? Did they pay the police a bribe?
At this point the court clerks stamped our ticket and told us to go
back to the Turbo police station to talk to the police. This we did.
The officer in charge was very nice and polite. As soon as he heard that
we were returning from giving relief supplies to the IDP camp, he indicated
he would void the ticket. I was most surprised when he asked one of his
subordinates to go get the 2000/- bail we had paid. He returned this
to us and I signed the form. It then became clear that here in Kenya
people don't go to court, but just forfeit their 2000/- and therefore
the police don't bother to take the case to court.
It was not
out of our way to go to Turbo because we had received a call from the
leader of the IDP camp that the Red Cross was suspicious about
the AVP workshop we had organized for the Kikuyu youth in the IDP camp.
Gladys and I, along with George Njoroge, the camp leader, visited the
assistant Red Cross official. As soon as we explained what we were doing
and gave him some of the AGLI AVP literature, he was most supportive.
In order to cover all bases, we then went to visit the local District
Officer who is responsible for the IDP camp
and whose office is right behind that of the camp leader. He also was
most supportive. He told us that things were improving because members
of the IDP camp had gone back to church in the home community. Njoroge
quickly informed him that we are affiliated with Lumakanda Friends Church
and that this is the church that had welcomed back the refugees. The
lesson here, I think,
is that even small actions can have profound effects when people are
searching for something positive and hopeful.
a young British woman who is already in Kenya, had phoned me to say
she wanted to participate in some of AGLI's work. Since Julia
said she had experience in photography and I needed some good pictures
for the next issue of PeaceWays, I invited her to attend the AVP workshop
with the youth at the Turbo IDP camp. The first two days went fine, although
at the beginning the IDP youth, not too surprisingly, were rather aggressive
towards the facilitators, letting out their anger and bitterness. The
workshop was being held at the National Youth Center next to the IDP
camp and on the third day the group was outside developing their role
plays. Julia was taking some pictures of the youth when she was arrested
for taking pictures! In the end, they deleted some of the pictures from
her digital camera and the whole group moved out of the National Youth
Center area and back into one of the classrooms (poles with plastic tarps)
at the IDP camp and completed the workshop. In the end we got some nice
Last week the political parties had agreed on a cabinet of 40 ministers.
Many civil society organizations felt that this was a bloated number
in that 24 ministers would be more than enough. The cost of these extra
ministers would be more than what the Kenyan government was asking the
international community to donate for returning the internally displaced
people to their homes. There was a demonstration in Nairobi led by Wangari
Maathai, among others. Donald Thomas, a Quaker, who has been in Kenya
since 1957, is the leader of the unprogrammed Friends meeting in Nairobi
and the organizer of the AVP program in Nairobi, was also at the demonstration.
The police tear gassed the demonstrators when they wanted to walk down
the street to present the Government with their petition against the
bloated cabinet. The Standand, the second largest newspaper in Kenya,
had a picture of Donald Thomas crouching on the ground trying to avoid
the tear gas. He was later taken to the hospital and soon released.
A number of people
have complained to me about my April 4 discussion on Safaricom. They
think that I should not have tarred everyone in the
country with the label of "greedy." I am sorry that I did not
write this more clearly. What I wished to convey is that those people
who are participating in the Safaricom frenzy (as the papers here call
it) are the ones who are greedy and not everyone in Kenya.
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