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Kenya Reports

Report #50
May 22, 2008

I wasn't expecting to make another report so soon, but events have given me some "juicy" material.

Robin and Christine Dunn are from Australia and with two other Australians they have built a nice retreat center called Takatifu (Spiritual) Gardens in Shinyalu about 8 miles from Kakamega. They are working with Central Yearly Meeting of Friends and have held 15 AVP workshops in their center during the last two months. Christine sent me this in an email today:

Yesterday Robin went into town by himself to do a little shopping when something happened. He was out the front of Midland's hardware store (which is owned by some Indians) when a badly injured man ran right past him down into a side street, with a large crowd of people chasing him. The man attempted to get into Midlands and they rushed to close their shutters so the guy (and the crowd following him) couldn't get in. Robin felt he should try to find out what was happening. So he went around the corner and saw that the man was now on the ground and was being flogged with something like a fan belt. People were also kicking him and Robin had the impression it was only a matter of time till they killed him. He was suspected of stealing, but I imagine very few people in the crowd knew the actual story. The son of Midland's hardware store came out the back of the shop too and commented to Robin on how terrible it was. Robin told him that they should do something about it. hen to the Indian guy's surprise Robin walked toward the crowd. As Robin approached people kind of backed off from the "thief" and some comments were made which made it clear that people were a bit embarrassed about what was happening.

Rob went straight to the guy and picked him up off the ground. He put his arm under the guy's shoulder and supported him to walk back towards the main road. The crowd didn't quite know what to do. Once Robin was on the main road he felt he was safe from being beaten himself, as the general public became very aware of what was going on and the mood was a lot more positive. The large crowd followed him with most making positive comments about Robin saving the guy, but some also mocking him, calling him "Kofi Annan", etc. Robin decided to take the guy to the police station, but felt it would be a bit dangerous to put him in the car. So he walked the guy to the police station about half a mile away. It seemed to him that all of Kakamega stopped to watch him walk with this man bleeding profusely and a large noisy crowd following behind him. By the end, the guy was not able to hold his own weight, so it was quite a task. Once at the police station, there was a bit of bureacracy. The police arranged to get the guy to hospital, and didn't seem interested at all in arresting him for stealing. I guess they figured he'd been punished enough already. Later in the day, Robin visited the guy in hospital and was able to confirm that he was getting some care. Rob thinks he'll survive, although he's in a bit of a bad way.

Then I got another email from Patrick Mureithi who is producing the documentary film, "Icyizere: Hope," on the Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) program in Rwanda. (Click here to see a five minute segment of the film).

This is Patrick Mureithi. I am now back in the US after an AMAZING experience in Rwanda and Kenya. I managed to show "ICYIZERE: Hope" to thousands of people at the Rwanda Film festival, on Rwanda Television during the official week of mourning, at the Gisenyi central Prison, and at the National University in Butare. In Kenya, I got the chance to share the documentary with students and faculty of the Aga Khan Medical
University and Hospital, staff and guests of the Kenya Film Commission, the Kenyan National Association of Nurses, the Great Lakes Parliamentary Forum on Peace, the Nairobi Peace Initiative and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. I was also interviewed by The Sunday Nation newspaper and by Citizen Television
during their popular Power Breakfast Show.

All this to say that I am very very grateful for all of the people that contributed to make the film possible, and for all of the emotional support I received from family and friends alike. I will soon be editing the final version of the film which, funding permitting, should be done in 5 months. I will keep you posted on developments as they come.

Then the last item is from the Sunday Nation. The front page headline reads "Raila factor in Obama contest." In other words Kenya is being used to influence the presidential election in the United States. Raila Odinga and Barack Obama are both Luo. Here are some lines from the story:

Right-wing activists in the United States are attempting to use Senator Barack Obama's Kenyan links to discredit him. The activists, most of them Christians, claim that Mr Obama is a relative of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, whom they describe as a "socialist who plans to introduce Sharia Law in Kenya." Right-wing activists disparate to derail his White House bid peddle falsehoods about him and Raila. Mr Davis and his wife [missionaries who are promoting these claims], noting Mr Odinga's contention that the
December 27 presidential voting was rigged, said in their message, "As we watch Obama rise in the US we are sure that whatever happens, he will use the same tactic, crying rigged election if he doesn't win and possibly cause a race war in America."

I guess this is enough "juice" to swallow in one day.

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