From: David Zarembka
Sent: Sunday, January 06, 2008 5:34 AM
Subject: AGLI--Report from Kenya--#10a - Jan 6
Kenya and the Rwandan Genocide
When the church was burned in Eldoret on New Year's Day, there began to be many comparisons made between the situation here in Kenya and the Rwandan genocide. Moreover a number of the politicians here in Kenya have been using the term "genocide." Any comparison at this time between what is happening in Kenya and what happened in Rwanda in 1994 is ridiculous.
Let us start with the church burning. In Rwanda churches were not burned. Rather the Tutsi who took refuge in the churches--sometimes by the thousands and even tens of thousands--were hacked to death by machetes. The church was surrounded by others so that anyone who tried to flee was killed. In Kenya, at the church in Eldoret, there were hundreds of people inside when it was burned down. Most fled. While the papers indicated 35 to 50 people were burned to death, the Red Cross now puts the numbers at 17. Clearly unlike the situation in Rwanda, the intention of the attackers was not to kill the people in the church.
The papers state that 355 people have died since the election. While I think this is an underestimate, at least 850,000 people were killed in the Rwandan genocide. The official total here in Kenya is .04% of the numbers killed in Rwanda.
Also, in Rwanda the specific intention of the genocedaries was to kill Tutsi. They hunted them down for one hundred days. If the Kenyan looters had the intention of killing Kikuyu and others, the death toll would be magnitudes higher. Rather, here in Kenya, the intention of the rioters is to destroy Kikuyu property--vehicles, shops, animals, farms, and houses.
The most important difference is that in Rwanda the government in power at that time organized and implemented the genocide. This is one of the criteria for genocide--it is the government itself which implements genocide. In Kenya there is no doubt that the Kenyan Government is not organizing any killings. Government security forces are trying their best to restore order and stop the destruction of property. The fact that they have failed for so long is of major concern, but this has nothing to do with genocide. While the Orange Democratic Movement has been accused by the Government of promoting the violence, I see no evidence that ODM is organizing it and in fact, I think, that they have no ability to stop it. The ODM leaders have asked for the end of the violence, but this has had no effect.
I myself try never to use the term "genocide" unless it completely fulfills the legal definition of genocide as in the case of Rwanda. In Darfur there is a major debate whether the situation there is genocide or not. This, to my thinking, is a complete distraction from the real issue of solving the problem in Darfur. If you are killed, you are dead regardless whether it is genocide or not. It is the deaths from violence, whether by a government or rebel groups, which we must focus on and attempt to end.
In the case of Kenya, the term "genocide" should not be used by anyone. If you hear the term being used, then you know it is propaganda.
----- Original Message -----
From: David Zarembka
Sent: Sunday, January 06, 2008 6:42 AM
Subject: AGLI--Report from Kenya--Jan 6, #2
Jodi Richmond (temporary Head of Friends Theological College, now in Nairobi) sent Gladys an SMS asking us if anyone was reacting in a Christian way to the chaos occurring now in Kenya.
Gladys and I went to Lumakanda Friends Church today; as we always do when we are in town. At first there was almost no mention of the conflicts whirling around us, but when the preacher for today, Daniel, gave his sermon, he based it on Hosea 14:1 "Come back, O Israel, to the Lord your God; for your sins have caused you to stumble." One of his main points was that Kenyans have to ask for forgiveness for what is engulfing the country. After the offering, I asked the Clerk if I could address the congregation on peace and reconciliation and he agreed. So I gave about a five minute talk in Swahili indicating that our hands were God's hands and that we could show our Christian/Friends concern for peace on earth by responding to help the displaced people who were in the school. They immediately conducted a second offering, collected 1208/- (a little less than $20) and gave it to me. After the service, I asked to meet with the church leaders and they set up a committee of six people
including the youth and the women to develop a plan for how the church can be of assistance. We will meet soon.
At the end of the first offering a woman was asked to say the prayer of thanks as is customary. I learned later that she is hiding a Kikuyu woman in her house. The woman was just giving birth on Sunday evening when the chaos began so this woman had her stay in her house with the new-born. If the rioters find out that she is harboring a Kikuyu, they will burn her house down.
Desmond Tutu came to Kenya, constructively met with both sides and THEN LEFT THE COUNTRY!!! I was soooooo disappointed.
While the reports on the radio say that things are getting back to normal, it doesn't seem that way here. Getry came from Lubao to Florence Machayo's house and reported at the junction of the Kakamega-Webuye and Eldoret-Webuye road, her vehicle was pelted with rocks. Keffer Mbale who lives in Kipkarren River reported that last night his next door neighbor's house was burned down.
Ray Downing and Janice Armstrong, Mennonite doctors who used to work at Lugulu Friends Hospital nearby, are now doctors at Webuye Hospital. They contacted me through email and SMS so I have their contact information. If we ever get to Webuye (not trying tomorrow after Getry's report of rock throwing) we will meet them. They had received my previous reports and confirmed that on Thursday night four patients were brought to Webuye Hospital from Lumakanda Hospital with gunshot wounds (i.e., they were looters shot by the police). One died.
Yesterday evening I went on my usual evening walk. At the school I found that the Red Cross had brought two trucks with 110 bags of maize (corn) and beans. I estimate that this will be enough for about a week to ten days. But Herman, the camp Red Cross coordinator, told me that there was no cooking oil, salt, sugar, toilet paper, hand or washing soap, and many other items. There was also a shortage of clothes since many people had run away in the middle of the night with only what they had on. I remember
that the Lubao workcampers had brought some children's clothing last summer and that some of it still was at the Peace Center. I called Getry and asked her to bring what she could and she has done so and taken them to Florence Machayo's house. Now I just have to figure out how to get it from Florence's house to ours.
In the meeting after church I opened up my calendar book and saw that I had 500/- of airtime that I had forgotten all about. Was I annoyed with myself! The 500/- of airtime that Dawn Amos sent me a few days ago finally arrived. She has sent a second 500/- and I expect it will reach me tomorrow. Do I feel wealthy! I even wasted a little of it looking at the internet news on Kenya.
In that internet news, I found that Lugari District had the second to highest number (after Eldoret) of IDP's 18,200. I also heard on BBC a report that Luo are also being attacked in Eldoret and are walking through back roads to Nyanza Province (which would take at least a week, I would think). Otherwise the Kenyan news on BBC has become old news and not much is being reported.
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