Saturday, January 26, 2008

Jan 3, Report 6, David Zarembka

From: David Zarembka
Subject: AGLI - Report from Kenya - 6
Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2008 07:38:31 +0000

Dear All,

It is 9:30 AM here in Kenya so I expect most of the people reading this will be happily dreaming in bed.

Today looks like the decisive day, and things don't look good. Kibaki has told the head of the African Union not to come to mediate because this is an internal Kenyan problem. In the doublespeak of the day, this means that Kibaki is not going to negotiate and will enforce his presidency with the police and military. The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) plans a massive inauguration of Raila Odinga today in downtown Nairobi at Uhuru Park. One million people are expected to attend. The Government has banned the gathering. BBC reports that riot police have encircled the park standing a meter apart. In other words, this looks like its going to be a major confrontation. BBC also reports from Mombasa that people have armed themselves with traditional weapons--bows and arrows, machettes, clubs, etc. Kikuyu from hard-hit Eldoret have been evacuated under police escort to Nakuru and Nairobi.

I just took a walk around Lumakanda town. While most of the shops are open, there are very few people in town. The police are very evident; talking with townspeople about the situation. The police station is filled with vehicles: including most of the town's matatus (which are mostly owned by Kikuyu). Clearly they are parked there for safekeeping.
Directly to the north is a large plume of black smoke. What does it mean? Has another building been burned in the countryside? Or is it just some normal burning of trash, etc? Considering the tension, every thing is under suspicion.

Beverly, Gladys' daughter, came by to see us yesterday. She lives in the rural area outside Lumakanda town, perhaps a little over a mile away. On Sunday night, after the election results were announced, she told us that she had seen fires and a lot of smoke from the houses which were being burned.

I have no money on my cell phone and only 250/- left on my laptop--about two days worth. I doubt I will get any calling cards today, but I can hope for tomorrow. Thanks, everyone, for your messages. Gladys and I are doing fine ourselves and we are absolutely in no danger. Two of our nieces (one 4 and one 13) are staying with us.

Please send all your prayers this way.

From: David Zarembka
Subject: AGLI - Report from Kenya - 7
Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2008 17:15:58 +0000

Dear All,

In Nairobi today it seems that the riot police, using tear gas and water cannons, stopped the rally planned in Uhuru Park to inaugurate Raila as president. The ODM called off the rally, but promised to do it another time.

Gladys told me that one of the reasons not many people are going shopping is that there are few goods left in the shops--particularly, I think, food. What is available is sold at inflated prices. The town is running out of "greens" which usually come from near Eldoret. A woman went out to the fields and picked local greens and filled a gunny sack--Gladys says these were immediately bought up.

As to Eldoret, I received this from Bainito Wamalwa

"As I speak now, the Friends Church in Eldoret has 62 families who are displaced by some of them having their houses burnt. They have no shelter, food and other basics. As I said earlier, there is no way to enter or exit Eldoret now. The food prices have gone more than triple high. Things are not right here."

Since fuel travels to Uganda, Rwanda, and North Kivu from Eldoret, these countries are running " short of fuel. Barbara Wybar reports that in Uganda the cost of travel on buses/matatus has doubled.

In Lugari District, in a town far from us, 6 youth were killed by the police yesterday. Turbo is the next town on the road towards Eldoret and we have been told that the violence there was even worse than Kipkarren River. We also heard that the police there have divided into two groups--a Kikuyu group and a group of all the others. If this really begins to happen, then an actual civil war becomes a possibility. The police have been on high alert since the day before the election so they must be getting worn out and tired people are less likely to show restraint.

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu, from South Africa has arrived in Nairobi, hoping to mediate, but since he made his speech asking for the end of the violence from the ODM offices, I am not sure that he will be acceptable to the Kibaki side.

Tomorrow is another day and we will see what it brings.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative/ Friends Peace Teams
Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya--phone 011 254 726 590 783
Office in US--1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104--phone 314/621-7262

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