Monday, 25 February 2008
The team lead by Kofi Annan was supposed to release the details of the power-sharing agreement between the two sides on Friday. That didn't happen. It seems like the Kibaki/PNU side is again procrastinating (they feel that time is on their side). So the Raila/ODM side has called for mass action on Wednesday (Feb. 27). Rather than just demonstrations, as in the past (which were broken up violently by the police), ODM is calling for what I would describe as a general strike. No one is to go to work; roads will be blocked, etc. Due to the recent history of violence this action will be extremely effective--everyone will be afraid to travel or to go to work. Everyone will stay home and the country will shut down. On Wednesday we were planning to go to Nairobi for our flight to the US on Thursday. If the action is not called off by Monday, we will travel to Nairobi on Tuesday. See how effective this threat is!
Yesterday Gladys and I went to Kakamega for a meeting with CAPP (essentially peace committee members) and AVP members from the various yearly meetings. During this meeting a woman from Chwele Yearly Meeting, which is right below the fighting on Mt. Elgon, told us that the previous night a member of one of the Quaker meetings was attacked by the Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLDF) which is responsible for much of the destruction and death on the mountain. His head was cut off and has not yet been found. (Note: Is it more "civilized" to attack people, say in Iraq, with heavy weapons so the body parts are all over the place?) Most of the Sabaot, who live higher up on the slopes of the mountain, have been displaced, so the SLDF is now moving further down the hill to steal cattle and goods killing people in the process. This area is very heavily populated by Quakers; every mile or two is another Quaker school. As the violence increases--and the current political crisis has been a great "cover" for increased attacks and ethnic cleanings in the area--the Quakers there will be more and more affected. Will the larger Quaker community in Kenya and the world take note of this and respond?
Yesterday we also bought goods in Kakamega for the internally displaced Lumakanda people who are now at the police station in nearby Turbo. We picked up four members of the Church including the pastor, James Majeta. As usual we delivered the food. There has not been significant rain in this area for almost four months. The IDP camp is at the top of a hill on fields that grew corn last year. The place is totally dry. The soil is very loose. The wind blows much of the time, sometimes very hard, and the dust blows everywhere. In an hour my hair (like everyone else's there) was covered with dust. They told me that a cow dies almost every day because there is not sufficient grass to feed them. As I looked at the cows I could see that many were thin with ribs showing. Although some of the people have moved back to their houses (see the comments about Silas Njoroge below) and some have returned to Central Province (the Kikuyu "ancestral home"), those who remain do not have homes to return to and perhaps do not even know where their "ancestral home" is.)
Here I will tell a story. You have to figure out the moral of the story. Gladys has a distant relative who works in Nairobi; but his wife and children live near us. These people are therefore Luhya, the dominant group in Lugari District. They are the ones who supply us each morning and evening with milk for our tea (and other uses). There are two older sons, Anthony, 21, and Nivan, 20. Both have completed secondary school and, as even they themselves say, are part of the "idle youth" who have nothing to do. About two weeks ago Nivan brought the evening milk about 6:00 pm. He went to the road, saw his brother and another friend, and they decided to walk over to Anthony's girlfriend's house. As they walked near the hospital and police station, there was a group of three Kikuyu boys following them. One of them came up to Nivan and started to attack him. The attacker then pulled out a machete and tried to strike him on the head. Nivan put up his left arm to ward off the blow and the machete cut through one of his arm bones and half way through the second. They rushed Nivan to the nearby hospital. About 8:00 pm the hospital called and told us to come and see him. This we did. By the time we reached the hospital he had been stitched up, given an antibiotic, and was doing fairly well considering the circumstances. Gladys paid the hospital bill. (It cost a little over $5. What would this have cost in the US?). Neither Anthony nor Nivan knew the attacker, but they did know the boys he was with. At this point it looked like this was an ethnic attack with a Kikuyu attacking a Luhya.
So then we went to the police station to report the incident. As soon as we arrived, the policeman said this was a case of a love triangle. If this is correct, then this is not one ethnic group attacking another, but "ethnic love" as two boys are fighting over the same girl (who is a Luhya). The only problem with this interpretation is that the girl is Anthony's girlfriend, yet Nivan is the one who was attacked. Moreover, as Anthony said to me, "If I had a rival, I didn't know it." So you can decide, "Is this ethnic hatred or ethnic love?" As I have said before, if one investigated the details of many of these incidents, the results would not be too clear.
Last Monday Gladys called the Anthony and Nivan's Mom and asked her to send them up with the evening milk. We talked with them more about the incident--Nivan is recovered well enough. ("I don't want to be a cripple," he sometimes says. Then other times he talks about how lucky he was to put up his arm to ward off the blow since he probably would have been killed.) The attacker has fled Lumakanda area and no one knows where he is. One of the other Kikuyu boys had been put in jail but he was released since he hadn’t actually done anything that was a chargeable offence. We discussed with them the idea of doing AVP with the youth. Would they be able to assemble a group of 20 youth, male and female, of various ethnic backgrounds to have a workshop? They said they could so we arranged for five or six of them to come back on Friday to meet with us and Getry, the AVP coordinator; and they came. Five youth (2 female, 3 male; 4 Luhya and 1 Luo) came to discuss the situation with Getry. The result is that on March 3, Getry and two other facilitators will begin an AVP workshop with them which will include Luhya, Nandi (local Kalenjin group), Luo, and Kikuyu. They said they have known each other since they were kids in school.
But another interesting thought came out of the discussion. Getry had introduced the idea that the youth were being blamed for all the violence. Anthony responded that on Dec 30 (the evening the election results were announced and the violence started) many adults were telling the youth to attack the Kikuyu. In particular, the adults said to attack Silas Njoroge whose house was looted but not burned -- perhaps because it is close to the town and the police station. (He has now returned to his house.) If the youth killed someone, they were told they could come back for a reward. Anthony said, and the others agreed, that there was a lot of peer pressure to join in the attacks and the youth really faulted the older people for promoting this.
Ray Downing, a doctor at Webuye Hospital, (who formerly worked at the Quaker Lugulu Hospital up the mountain from Webuye) asked the question, "Why don't we study those areas (such as Webuye and Bungoma) where there was no violence?" In other words, rather than focusing only on the bad areas, why don't we try to understand the good areas? At one point I replied that I thought the Webuye/Bungoma area had not erupted into violence because the people there voted for Kibaki rather than Raila. (This voting was really anti-Raila, who they didn't like, rather than pro-Kibaki. Nonetheless, it got Kibaki the votes he needed. Ray Downing replied that the older people in the area voted for Kibaki, but that the younger people voted for Raila. Later I was in a meeting where two parents said they had voted for Kibaki while their children had voted for Raila and that this had brought great tension into the family.
This led me to realize that it is the elders (Bush, Cheney, et alter) who send the youth to war in Iraq. It is the Kalenjin elders who send their warriors to attack the Kikuyu and the church which was burned down in Eldoret. It was the elders here in Lumakanda who encouraged the youth to attack the local Kikuyu. Where the elders did not encourage the youth, or perhaps discouraged the youth from attacking, the youth were not violent. If this interpretation is correct, then it is the older people who are responsible for the violence, death, and chaos in Kenya and not the youth who physically did the damage.
Thursday, 21 February 2008
Politically things are not looking good. The Government (PNU--Kibaki) side, after immense pressure from the US, Britain, the EU, and many others, has not compromised hardly at all.
They are continuing to say much of what they said right after the election--Kibaki is in power and the Constitution cannot be changed to accommodate any settlement. The Opposition side (ODM--Raila) is planning to start holding demonstrations again after a week if Parliament is not called into session to vote on the Constitutional changes needed for a settlement. The Government then says they (ODM) are bringing on violence and ODM responds by saying that it is the Government who is violent when they forbid peaceful demonstrations as allowed by the Kenya Constitution and international law. The tear gas, water cannons, and live bullets are what is making the demonstrations violent. For some reason, the authorities in Kapsabet had allowed demonstrations before and they were peaceful and the youth blew off their steam. The Kibaki side wishes to procrastinate as long as possible since with each passing day they remain in power.
Noah Weksa, a PNU Member of Parliament from Western Kenya, a Quaker, and Minister for Science and Technology, has called for a power sharing agreement--this is at some variance with the PNU hardliner stance. It will be interesting to see if some of the PNU, non-Kikuyu MP's start to break away to form that moderate middle that will be necessary for a resolution.
On Tuesday Gladys and I were at the Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT) meeting and I heard this interesting story. There are still about 1000 Kikuyu camped at the police station in Kakamega. On Sunday 350 Luhya who had been displaced from Naivasha, Nakuru, and Central Province and returned to their "ancestral land" as is the phrase here (i.e., ethnically cleansed) arrived in their truck at the police station, but the police turned them away--presumably because the Luhya would have problems staying with the Kikuyu. When the truck returned to town, not really knowing where to drop the people, the bicycle taxi drivers got aroused. In mass, as they do during the rioting, they returned with the truck to the police station and demanded that the Luhya be allowed to stay there (or they would begin attacking the Kikuyu). The police backed down and the Luhya stayed with the Kikuyu in the police station, both as internally displaced people.
In the reports on the FCPT distribution which I missed when we were in Uganda, a number of people commented that the internally displaced people would see the Red Cross vehicles pass them by, but never stop to help. FCPT is distributing to those who have not been serviced by the Red Cross. These people are ethnically mixed, but none are Kikuyu. It seems that the Red Cross is servicing only Kikuyu.
People I know in Lumakanda have stopped me in the streets here to complain about the Red Cross not helping the Luhya. This should be investigated and if true, the Red Cross should be taken to task for this discrimination.
Our 42 one-day listening workshops for the 496 staff at the Center for Disease Control in Kisumu have been completed. I talked to the Director and she was very pleased with them as she had heard many positive reports from the participants. We had brought Chris, one of the HROC facilitators from Rwanda, to help out. The HROC program in Rwanda is planning listening sessions for survivors of the recent earthquake in Cyangugu at the southern end of Lake Kivu so Chris will be able to bring the Kenya experience back to Rwanda.
Monday, 18 February 2008
Greetings in Jesus name. We are doing well here in Kenya despite the tension experienced in the air. We need prayers and not just prayers but true men and women of God whom God can hear are respond to their prayer. Kenya is now at the mercy of Koffi Annan Mediation outcome. If the mediation fails, we do not know what would happened to this country. The situation is very volatile at this moment.
Yesterday, Vihiga Yearly Meeting together with my office organised a prayer for peace day at Kidundu Friends church where the area member of parliament, district commissioner, district officer and several other administrators from the region attended this prayer meeting. I delivered the Key note speech and led the congregation in praying for the nation. I remembered when Amos was shown in a vision what God was planning to do to the land of Israel with the invasion of locust. Amos begged God to spare his people and God relented. Amos also sees another vision of the fire that will consume all the land, Once again, Amos stands in the gap and prays for his people. God hears the prayer of Amos and relents (Amos 7:1-5). I am convinced that God through the prayers of the righteous, will be mercifully change his mind, on the basis of the prayers of his servants and spare his wayward people in Kenya through the mediation process. Please stand with us, the Amos may be you or me. But we must intensify our prayers at this time.
I could tell from the tone of people that they are angered and they have not accepted we are okay. My prayer is that Justice and truth should come out to heal people from their anger. If he church is angered, how about the secular world? In 1Timothy 2:1-7; Paul recommends prayer that there may be peace, without which nothing good can be accomplished. I am a worried man now, please pray for us more than you have done before. Where you hear more international pressure from all over to Kenya, things are not good. But I am also optimistic that a solution will be found. That is Amos 7 encourages me that God listened to the prayers of the righteous ones and relents or repent his action.
As a result of the Sunday prayer meeting at Kidundu in Vihiga yearly meeting, I have argued Vokoli, Chavakali, Vihiga, Tuloi and Kaimosi yearly meetings to organise a joint prayer for peace meeting soon. They are planning for a day any time from now. The tentative dates subject to approval by the meetings are 2nd March at Vokoli, 9th March at Lugulu and 16th at Lirhanda.
Emergency Relief program is going on very well and we have managed to reach close to 3000 IDP in various camps. Last Friday we reached to the new places called Milembe in Sabot. These are people who have ran to John Kitui's farm for refuge and more than 300 families are on his farm. John Kitui is the presiding clerk of Elgon East Yearly Meeting. He was very happy when we reached there and shared with the displaced and later gave them food and other assorted items they were not expecting. We wanted to leave the food behind for them to distribute later, but the people refused. So we did the distribution and we left them happy and smiling. We left the place at 6.30 pm and I was arriving home at 10.00pm after ensuring that everybody who was in my track was reached home safely. The chairman of the team, Joseph Mamai the Clerk of Chwele yearly meeting could not reach his home because there is a curfew at his area from 6.00pm. I had to book for him a guest room at Webuye for his safety until the following day when he left for his home. He is safe and we are having a postmortem meeting tomorrow at kakamega friends church where he will be chairing.
There is more crisis in some of our school where the government has forced them to take more than the capacity they could hold. I have received reports from some of the principals and also witnessed myself the influx of children in schools. They need our support. We are having a meeting with all the education secretaries and later with all the principals of our secondary school and find out which is the best way to handle the crisis which the government is unable to handle. As you are aware the government is confused at the moment, emergency relief is the solution to them. Water is another major problem in some of the schools and the more the urgency the batter we shall solve the situation of an outbreak of typhoid.
Thursday, 14 February 2008
L. Muthoni Wanyeki is an activist, writer and human rights defender. She is the Executive Director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the former Executive Director of the African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), and a member of the Coordinating Group of the Feminist Dialogues.
We held our breath as the mediation process was launched. We are still holding it. A new form of violence has emerged. We whisper the question: were the murders of two Orange Democratic Movement parliamentarians political assassinations? The propaganda war intensifies.
Part of the propaganda war has to do with naming the violence. The term "genocide" is invoked — ignoring the fact that genocide includes elements of state complicity. The term "ethnic cleansing" is thrown around loosely. Both terms heighten the fear.
Yes, there are historical grievances that need to be addressed. Yes, there are contemporary experiences of exclusion and persistent inequalities that also need to be addressed. And, most importantly, yes, the victims — and survivors — of the current violence have experienced and understand that violence to be the result of their ethnicity. But the violence is politically instigated. And it finds ethnic expression or manifests itself ethnically because our politics are organised ethnically.
There are now four forms of violence in the country. First, the violence resulting from disorganised and spontaneous protests at the announcement of the disputed presidential result. This form of violence has largely died down (or been suppressed). Second, and most critically, violence resulting from organised militia activity — beginning most horrendously in the Rift Valley, but now spreading out from Nairobi and Central. Third, violence by the police force and the General Service Unit's extraordinary use of force, including extrajudicial killings, primarily in Nyanza.
And fourth, violence resulting from communal vigilantism — catalysed by the perceived need for self-defence and security, but also by the receipt of IDPs by families and communities in Nairobi and Central.
All forms of violence are completely, utterly unacceptable. All forms of violence must be condemned. And, importantly, accountability must be sought for all forms of violence. There can be no impunity.
But seeking accountability requires the painstaking work of investigation, documentation and evidence collection — particularly with respect to the organised militia activity. We all have initial findings and preliminary information. But that is not enough. Which is why the propaganda war must stop.
Surely we can see both the intent and the consequences now of the propaganda we all engaged in, abandoning all ethics, morals and principles, during the campaign period? It is not enough to say that elders and politicians incited violence. We all did. Not only from campaign podiums and vernacular radio stations, but also, damagingly, through our interpersonal communications — via SMS, e-mail and the Internet. Surely we can see now that this was exactly what we were all being led to?
Calling for peace is not enough. We will only slide into civil war if we cannot see through this. We must resist the fear, name the problem accurately and desist from the build up to the declaration of a state of emergency or the deployment of the military or, worse, the usurpation of civilian governance by military governance. We must demand that the organised militia activity stop. We must demand that the police and the General Service Unit focus on ensuring that it does as well as protecting the IDPs. The mediation process has too much at stake for us all to be compromised now. We have lost too much as it is.
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
January 31, 2008
H.E. MR. KOFI ANNAN
Mediation of the Kenya Political Crisis
RE: MEDIATION OF THE KENYAN POLITICAL CRISIS
The Quaker Church, whose solemn creed, faith and practice is the promotion of peace among humankind and nations, joins fellow Kenyans and friends of good will in welcoming your Excellency and your team of eminent persons to our troubled country. We pray and are confident that you will succeed in executing the enormous task of unlocking the current political impasse which has brought our country to the state of socio-economic and political paralysis. Our faith in you is founded on the premise that you have unlocked more intricate impasses elsewhere in the past.
The social repercussions of the indecisive result of the presidential elections of 27th December 2007 have been catastrophic resulting in heavy loss of life and property as well as national cohesiveness, trust and unity which the country has enjoyed for decades.
We congratulate you for having moved speedily to bring the protagonists to the negotiating table and thus creating the atmosphere for dialogue. It will, however, be appreciated that peace without justice can, at best, be only temporary. The cause of this nationwide conflict, discontent and rebellion cannot and should not be swept under the carpet. Justice, which comes with the unraveling of truth, has to be an essential part of the mediation. The majority in the nation wanted change and are convinced that they got it through the ballot box but were robbed of the victory. Many a cleric has been known to confer with State House since the crisis struck. However, press statements and even their Episcopal messages have almost exclusively focused on appeals for cessation of hostility to allow for peace to prevail. Little is said about the search for justice that was denied the aggrieved voters of the six out of eight provinces who continue to protest and lament the perceived injustice inflicted upon them. It should be noted that in the current constitution of Kenya, part of the winning formula for presidential elections is that the candidates must garner 25% of the votes cast in at least five of the provinces, which the two leading candidates more than fulfilled.
As a peace church for nearly 400 years, our PEACE TESTIMONY embraces refusal to fight with weapons of destruction affirming, instead, the righteousness of God and the sanctity of life, promotion of truth and justice, and, ultimately, peace. These same ideals form the bedrock of the United Nations mandate since its establishment on 20th October 1945 calling for abolition of war followed by promotion of peaceful means of conflict resolution, human rights, economic justice and good governance.
This complementarity of our Peace Testimony with the ideals of the United Nations earned the Quaker Church the Nobel Peace Price(1948) and, through its umbrella body, the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), special consultative status in the United Nations Economic Social Council in 1948. This was enhanced in the year 2002 to the general consultative status allowing it liberty to work on a broad range of international concerns. In its quest for world peace therefore, the Quaker United Nations offices (QUNO) in New York and Geneva were established while the Quaker Council for European Affairs maintains a brief on the subject for the European Union in Brussels. The Africa Section of FWCC operates on the regional level while in Kenya there has been established the Friends Church in Kenya Service Committee and the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
It is, therefore, not an accident, Sir, that you, the immediate former Chief Executive of the United Nations system have been chosen as the Team Leader of the Eminent Persons for this crucial task. As Quakers we feel duty-bound spiritually and morally, to search for genuine, lasting and just peace. Although a window of opportunity for dialogue and mediation was seemingly opened when the two main protagonists shook hands and even shared a negotiating forum under your able chairmanship, they need to go an extra mile to win credibility of the skeptical masses who continue to agitate and bear the brunt of the conflict physically and emotionally.
Below are issues which are in tandem with the implementation of our Quaker Peace Testimony which we hope will be helpful. We wish to contribute to the negotiation process on issues on humanitarian aid, security, legal, political and constitutional spheres for a deep dialogue with a purpose of leading to a win-win outcome for wananchi of Kenya.
To this end we wish to propose the way forward as hereunder:-
(i) Efforts to care for the displaced, hungry, traumatized, bereaved and hospitalized should be set in accordance with the UN Standards and Procedures. These persons should not be put under pressure to return to their original homes before ensuring their safety and well being. Some casualties have tragically already occurred on being assured safe return.
(ii) The law enforcement agents who, in many cases have aggravated bitterness, destruction of property and loss of life by use of excessive force and live ammunitions should cease forthwith in order to guard the sanctity of life. The law enforcement agents should engage both sides in dialogue to encourage their supporters to keep peace.
(iii) The claimed existence of foreign troops in the country primarily from Uganda and deployed in Nyanza, Western and Northern Rift Valley should be thoroughly investigated and expunged from our country.
(iv) Credibility of leaders can only hold if confessions and assertions made are consistent with the admission of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya that he was pressured by PNU and ODM-Kenya to announce the results, as was witnessed nationwide on live media coverage. To do this requires a three-stage approach:
Since the truth of the tallying and re-tallying has been overtaken by events, then the right solution would be:
a) Dissolve the present government in favour of one based on proportional representation consistent with the weight of party representation in Parliament. This would be an interim government which would hold power for three months headed by the Speaker of the National Assembly while preparing for rerun of Presidential Election.
b) Rerun the Presidential Election with Hon. Kibaki and Hon Raila as the only candidates. The winner would form the government that would be recognized by the nation as legitimate.
c) Other presidential candidates who may feel aggrieved may also be included in the run-off should they want to participate in establishing the truth.
(v) Reconvene Parliament as a matter of urgency and in the interest of national harmony to put in place a new Constitution or an amendment which would allow for establishment of corresponding and stabilizing institutions.
(vii) Put in place short-term and long term mechanisms to tackle the problem of prevailing and historical economic marginalization along ethnic lines by facilitating equitable distribution of national resources including ownership and control of means of production, wealth and employment opportunities, as documented in the NEPAD Peer Review and the Final Report of The Constitution of Kenya Review Commission.
(viii) Replace, with immediate effect, voting cards with National Identification card for the purpose of polling at any national election to eliminate the wide spread incident of buying and destroying the voting cards by hostile and rich opponents at the polls. This would eliminate tampering with voter registers where names of electorate go missing. Consider the Australian example of making voting compulsory in order to eliminate the using of registered voters who did not cast their ballot as a top up for unscrupulous candidates thus making a travesty of democracy.
(ix) The ODM-K has accepted appointments in Kibaki’s Cabinet which, in the course of the current political impasse, is considered part of the problem and not part of the solution. You will note that this will compound the problem in the mediation process and add to the frustration of the, their inclusion in the mediation process and add to the frustration of the aggrieved masses.
(x) Once opened as a matter of national urgency, Parliament should put in the statutes provisions which would compel the judiciary to move with speed, in solving national problems such as the ones currently under discussion. The nation has lost faith in the judiciary as an institution for timely and impartial dispensation of justice in such a manner that it sounds insulting to be referred to as the courts of law for resolution of legal and political problems. With regard to electoral cases, the courts should give provision for the Chief Justice to constitute 3 to 4 specific courts to dispense with these cases within the first year of election.
(xi) Following the assassination of two Members of Parliament, the situation is volatile. It is imperative that the mediation process be speeded up. At this juncture the need for non-partisan international force under the guidance of the UN be brought to Kenya for peacekeeping.
(xii) We encourage you and your mediation team to give guidance on modalities of establishing mechanisms for reconciliation and peace-building, not only at the apex with the national leaders, but also down through to wananchi and the grassroots level.
(xiii) Examine the 2004 Bomas Draft of the Constitution with a view to finding answers to the present crisis. This draft contains the peoples views as collected and collated by CKRC and negotiated by the National Constitution Conference (NCC).
(xiv) From past experience we know the trajectory of where the events of the past months in Kenya are most likely leading to. They reflect the cases of Somalia and Rwanda. We also know that interventions in such situations have come when too much damage has already been done and innumerable lives lost. We propose that what Kenya needs badly today is a robust police force to restore law and order. The only weakness with Kenya’s police force in this crisis is that it is overwhelmed by the magnitude of the crisis. We propose that you institute an express process through the United Nations Security Council using your good offices as former Secretary General to bring in a United Nations police force in the shortest time possible. We suggest contributions from: Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, India and Australia.
We are committed to the foregoing views which we would like you to consider as viable options which would quell the current conflict and put in place a credible and acceptable government.
We wish your Excellencies every success in this challenging and noble task. Please Sir, accept the assurance of our highest consideration. GOD BLESS KENYA.
Midikira Churchill Kibisu
Nairobi Yearly Meeting
For FRIENDS CHURCH IN KENYA
Monday, 11 February 2008
While others think Kenya is calmiing down, I don't. I think that it has entered another stage where the dramatic headlines of burning buildings and multi-deaths is over and a more subdued, but perhaps a more destructive and deadly mopping up, has begun. I can call this "reaping the harvest of the prior violence."
Tuesday on our way to Kakamega we stopped by Florence and Alfred Machayo's house to deal with the maize (corn) that needed to be bagged for delivery in the North Rift. Alfred was not there because he was escorting a Luhya friend of his who was a magistrate in the Nandi (Kalenjin) area. The magistrate had been told that he had to leave Nanci in a week or his house would be burned down. So, he was looking at the plot he has in Lugari District and determining how he can live there with his family. In other words, one family quietly (as far as the media is concerned) displaced. I suspect he will be out of his job also.
In the last few days another home was burned near Kipkarren River. In this case the old Kikuyu had died, but his daughter lived in his house, which was burned down, and his nice cassava field was completely destroyed. In my report on the visit to north Rift Valley, I mentioned the considerable violence on Mt Elgon. The paper reports that over 1000 teachers have not reported for work in North Rift Valley and that many students have also not returned. When we visited the Lumakanda people in the camp at Turbo, they told us that their numbers have been increasing.
Two communities in Lugari District, which formerly had not been attacked, were attacked last week during the unrest and more people had fled to the camp.
In other words, houses will be burnt here and there. The violence of the past will compel people to flee as soon as they feel that they are being targeted. The targets are no longer only the Kikuyu in the western provinces, but anyone who happens not to live in his/her home area; i.e., who do not speak the local language.
I has occurred to me that the situation in Kenya is exactly the same as in the region of Rwanda, Burundi, and North and South Kivus. But in this case the issue is within one nation while the other is international. Let us compare the Rwandans with the Kikuyu. Rwanda is over-populated and so the Rwandans immigrate to North and South Kivu (and also Tanzania and Uganda) where they are considered "foreigners" by the local people and by the Governments of the region; and therefore, by the international community. Almost all the wars in the region since 1990 have been based on whether the Rwandans have the right to live as citizens, with benefits and privileges, in one of these countries. The answer is "No," but the Rwandans don't want to leave so fighting erupts.
In Kenya, the Kikuyu were originally confined to Central Province which is much smaller than Rwanda. The number of Rwandans in Rwanda is more or less equal to the number of Kikuyu in Kenya.
Since 1900 the Kikuyu have moved out of Central Province to other parts of Kenya under the assumption that they were Kenyan citizens moving within their own country. But others, particularly the Kalenjin and Maassi groups take the positioin that Kikuyu were given land that was stolen from them by the British and therefore they don't have "rights" of land ownership in these areas.
Since Kenya is itself a nation supported by the international community, the regionalists don't have the egal right to expell the Kikuyu as the Congolese, Tanzanians or Ugandans have with the Rwandans.
I read in the paper today that Tanzania is expelling 220,000 Burundians who have been in Tanzania since 1972; 36 years! Burundians do not seem to be very welcoming of these returnees because they really have no place to put them.
In effect our concepts of who belongs to what nation needs to be questioned/considered, while at the same time we have to address the issue of whether a group that historically occupies a certain territory has the right to exclude others. And then there has be fights over the boundaries of these "indigeneous territories"--this is essentially what is happening in the conflict on Mt Elgon. I am certain that almost everyone reading this report will come down on the side of the right of a person to live anywhere "in his/her own nation." But one must remember that the great "ethnic cleanizing" happened at the end of World War II when millions of people were relocated to their "home country" whose boundaries had changed substantially so that Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Latvia, etc. all became ethnically homogeneous and the multi-national countries of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia had to be broken up into ethnic enclaves. The American (and now European) efforts to keep out illegal immigrants is no more than this same issue--if Americans don't like Mexicans in their borders, while shouldn't people from North Kivu not like Rwandans, or Kalenjin's not like Kikuyu, Luo, Luyha, and others within "their borders?" There have been suggestions (not considered seriously) that Kenya ought to be divided into two new countries with the Rift, Western, and Nyanza Provinces becoming Kenya II.
These are all hard issues. I don't see anyone in the international community addressing them at any depth. Surely the United Nations and all its constitutent governments are committed to the current status quo. I would like to see some considerations of better alternatives.
On Friday Kofi Annan announced that an agreement was being reached between the two sides and the details will be available early this week. People are guardedly hopeful that some accommodation will be reached. But, as they say, the devil is in the details. (One of my favorite explanations of the current crisis is from a woman who said, "On Dec 30 Satan came to Kenya.") I would not be surprised that the agreement when announced might lead to another round of violence as the "hardliners" on both sides will feel that they have been sold out by the compromises. Hopefully I am wrong.
The changes are supposed to be far-reaching. I have some qualms about the fact that 8 negotiators and their political parties are chartering the course of the country, meaning that women, youth, the religious community, NGO's, and the business community are all, as usual, left out. This was the case with the compromise in Burundi and the result has been a squabbling, ineffective government. When will the world develop a system where all parts of society negotiate the conditions for a country's existence and well-being? I am certain that both political parties will see that their interests are properly served before those of the other actors in the country. It is possible that the "compromise" made lead to a political storm (rather than a violent storm) by those who have not been consulted. Or perhaps everyone is so tired that they will accept anything handed to them.
Lumakanda town, this morning (Monday), has been more like a normal day than any other since Dec 30. Many people are in town going about their various businesses, the motorcycle taxi drivers are busy, and I can easily buy a newspaper!
What the Daily Nation (Kenya's largest newspaper with a circulation of over 1,000,000!) covered today was all those affected by the violence--children not in school, children in IDP camps, colleges and other institutions who have lost their staff, manufacturing businesses that are closed, hospitals and other government offices which are understaffed as the employees fled, roads that aren't being built, lost employment, and the other costs of 6 weeks of violence and stalemate. A Quaker in Nairobi whose wholesale establishment was looted says he will re-open, but not now. A large-scale farmer I know says he is cutting back on the acreage of maize (corn) he will plant next month because he does not know if he will get seeds and fertilizer, or what price he might have to pay. The cost of travel has almost doubled--for example, a matatu from Lumakanda to Kakamega has gone from 120/- to 200/- ; and the price increase does not seem like it is going to go down to where it was before. I have seen people wanting to get a ride in a matatu asking for the price and, seeing that it is more than they have, not making the ride. [Note: /- is the symbol for Kenyan Shilling.]
Okay, I need to report some good news. There is a place in Kenya called the Laikipia Nature Conservancy (www.gallmannkenya.org). It is a 100,000 acre preserve next to Lake Baringo in the drier parts of the Rift Valley. They have a 60 person education center and they have done peacemaking activities there in the past in addition to their normal purpose of conservation education. Right now they have 40 youth from the Nairobi slums, many of whom were involved in destruction, there for a week of "healing". They needed some help so the United States Institute of Peace [USIP], which has supported both AGLI and the Conservancy in the past, recommended us to them. As a result Getry Agizah, Peter Serete, and Martin Oloo, all young, experienced AVP facilitators, are leading these youth through the AVP course on esteem, communication, cooperation, and non-violent conflict resolution each morning. In the afternoon others lead sessions on art, drama, music, etc. The three facilitators had problems getting there because the bus broke down. I asked Getry if she was happy and she reported, "We are very happy and glad to have the Nairobi youth. Life is simple and peaceful. Just finished the sessions.
We are on the truck going around the forest (where there is much wildlife)." Likewise we are continuing the daily listening sessions with employees at the Center for Disease Control in Kisumu.
As the situation in Kisumu has calmed down these trainings seem to have become routine with the participants being energized at the end of each day with the training activity that is called "On the Way Forward."
Greetings in the mighty name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I believe for sure Christ is real and is working in our midst all the time. I have witnessed His presence all through for the last one and a half months that looks like it has been a year. I have experienced the longest time of my life in Kenya, sometimes i have been thinking may be I am seeing movies acted in Africa, but i find myself facing the same things everyday and they stop being fiction actions but real. I found myself who need to help the traumatised people traumatised already. the situation in Kenya is beyond what anybody would imagine but here we are facing them.
Therefore, we are looking for at least seventy participants including the FCPT. This workshop will be developing and mapping how to reach and coordinate the peacemaking and reconciliation program using our members who have skills on mediation and healing. This workshop will be held on Saturday 23rd February at kakamega. This will form the climax of our peacemaking process by involving a bigger number to reach out to many communities for reconciliation and peace crusading. Please stand with us for this process to succeed so that the Quakers may at least contribute to the peace of this country. We believe together we can make a difference.
Friday, 8 February 2008
Two weeks ago Friends in Kenya had a conference in Kakamega sponsored by the Friends Church in Kenya, Friends United Meeting Africa Ministries Office, and Friends World Committee for Consultation Africa Section. (See the reports at the top of this blog.) At that meeting, it was decided to form a committee which has been titled "Friends Church Peace Team" (FCPT). I was appointed to the committee. The committee has formed an "Emergency Relief and Reconciliation Programme." As its first major activity, yesterday about 30 Friends visited a number of internally displaced people in the Trans Nzoia District next to Mt Elgon in the Rift Valley. With funds donated from the United States, England, and elsewhere through FUM, a truck-full of food--maize (corn), beans, rice, sugar, salt, cooking oil, blankets, and soap were be to delivered.
Gladys and I were assigned to provide the 40 200-pound bags of maize because Lugari District because maize is cheaper here as this is the maize belt region of Kenya and has a surplus for export elsewhere. Gladys spent Monday and Tuesday with two youth bagging the 40 bags at Florence and Alfred Machayo's home. Then on Wednesday, she waited all day for the truck she had hired to take the maize to Kakamega. It never showed up so she arranged for another truck to come at 5:00 AM on Thursday morning. When it had not shown up by 8:00 AM, we called John Muhanji of FUM who was organizing the distribution. He decided to have the truck from Kakamega coming with the rest of the goods drop by the Machayo's to pick up the maize (and us as we traveled the five miles or so to her house). This worked out well and actually saved the transport costs.
The people who had gathered in Kakamega came up north in three vehicles and together with the truck we drove to a junction near where we were going to distribute the food. Henry Mukwanja who works for the National Council of Christians of Kenya in that region had identified about ten places where approximately 4000 people had not received any assistance from the Red Cross, the Government of Kenya, or the World Food Program. The people noted that the Red Cross trucks passed them by to deliver food and supplies to the Kikuyu who were in an IDP camp down the road--they as non-Kikuyu saw this as another example of the Government's favoritism to the Kikuyu over the other people in the country.
Gladys and I joined the third group which was going to a small shopping center (5 or 6 small shops) on the side of the road called Misemwa with a Seventh Day Adventist Church. Officially there were 1600 people in 259 families (for an average of about 6 people per family). The amount of food we unloaded seemed massive--14 two hundred pound bags of maize, for example. Yet each family was given about 10 pounds of maize, 2 pounds of beans, a blanket, a cup of sugar, a half cup of salt, a few ounces of cooking oil, and for the families with children, some rice. This would only be enough for a few days! Of course the place was packed with people waiting patiently for the distribution--many women (I estimated that 2/3 of the families were headed by women), many small children (the older ones, I hope, were in school), old men, youth, etc.
These people were not Kikuyu, the group usually targeted in the violence in western Kenya, but mostly Luhya and some Sabaot (Kalenjin group). There was no internally displaced persons camp as we are going to in Turbo since the people live in houses in the area. For example, in the small Seventh Day Adventist Church eight women were living with their children. Others had rented a room in the area and a few were staying with relatives. One woman told me that she had moved in with her husband and four children--and a fifth was well on its way--to live with her sister who also had four children and there was not enough food all of a sudden for this vastly expanded family. All the displace people had come with nothing more than what they could carry.
As usual when one delves into the details of conflict, the situation here is different from the usual simplistic explanation of Kibaki versus Raila, Kikuyu versus Luo. These people had fled from Mt Elgon where there has been an active conflict for the last year and a half. Human Rights groups in Bungoma had tallied 400 dead and 150,000 or more displaced before the election violence began on December 30. Note that this compares to the official count of 1000 dead and 300,000 displaced in the election violence. In other words, some conflicts are "more important" than others. But the fact that this conflict was not properly dealt with in that time indicates why so much of Kenya could erupt into similar violence.
The conflict was over land between two clans of the Sabaot group, the Soy and Ndorobo. The first group which thinks that they have not been dealt fairly in the land distribution by the Government have formed the Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLBF). They have automatic rifles and retreat into the forests on Mt Elgon to hide. We had seen an area on Mt Elgon where every house on the hillside had been destroyed. The election results were used by the Sabaot Land Defense Force to attack anyone from another group in their area. This included the Kikuyu who fled to the camp nearby and then the Bugusu of the Luhya group. I had heard of a case where 11 Bugusu were executed by the SLBF and the bodies thrown into a latrine. While I have never heard any reference to this massacre in the media (compare this to the 17 who were burned to death in the church near Eldoret), this was confirmed by a doctor at the Webuye Hospital where the exhumed bodies were later taken. So it did not take much for the Bugusu to flee. Then the Ndorobo who were supplied by the Kikuyu in their trading across the border into Uganda attacked the Sabaot for attacking the Kikuyu. So Sabaot also had to flee to Misemwa.
I talked at length with Mildred, one of the 8 women living in the church. She has six children, the youngest on her shoulder as we talked. Her husband had left for the day when the SLDF in red uniforms (ie, this is an organized rebel group) came and told them to leave. So she did. She has no idea where her husband is and there is really little way of him finding out where they have fled to. She does not want to return to her farm on Mt Elgon where she had lived for 12 years, but has little idea of what the future will bring for her.
Andrew and his family of wife and four children (he was also holding his youngest child on his shoulder) were attacked in the middle of the night and fled down the mountain with nothing but what they had on. He lives in a room in a house nearby. He says that he survives by doing day labor when he can. He also told me he did not want to go back. When I asked people, they told me that the land on Mt Elgon is very fertile and well-watered and that is why they had bought plots there in the past.
While the media, both internationally and locally, reports (as the Government would like them to) that the situation in Kenya is calm and returning to normal, this is clearly not the case on Mt Elgon. The previous night there had been some killings (unconfirmed) and hundreds more had fled down the mountain. These newly displaced people were not on the list of 259 families to receive the aid we had brought.
After three hours at Misemwa distributing the relief supplies and talking with the people, after a short sermon and prayer, we left and joined the people at a small "hotel" where we all got a snack and discussed the pro's and con's of what we had done for the day. For example, in our case, since the site was not a "camp" and this was the first time that the group had received any assistance, there was no distribution system in place as occurs with the Lumakanda group in Turbo. On Saturday Gladys and I will go to Kakamega to meet with the Friends Church Peace Team to decide what we will do next.
Although the food seemed to be little in relationship to the need, I still felt good knowing that we had helped as we are able. In this kind of work, one cannot get discouraged by the unmet needs, but must focus on what you have accomplished. If people only eat well for a few days, it is still better than having to scrounge around for a little food and going to sleep hungry. Moreover, as I have learned in the past, visiting people who have been the victims of violence is perhaps one of the most important peacemaking activities one can initially do. As the Burundians say, "A real Friend comes in the time of need" (I am the one who capitalized the "F" in friend).
Monday, 4 February 2008
The Kipsigis are a Kalenjin group around Kericho in the Rift Valley. The Kisii are their neighbors across the border in Nyanza Province. As soon as the election results were announced, the Kipsigis began targeting the Kisii; they were incorrrectly perceived as having supported Kibaki in the election. Last Thursday [1/21] when a Kipsigis Member of Parliament [David Kimutai Too] was killed by a Kisii policeman, extensive violence broke out on the border between the two groups. Between ten and twenty people were killed; many, many wounded; and tens of houses burned.
Jared is an AVP facilitator in Kisii and coordinator of the Uzima Foundation program there (Uzima works with youth empowerment). He is married to a Kipsigis woman who had to go into hiding in order keep from being attacked.
Malesi Kinaro wrote a proposal to AGLI to support negotiation/reconciliation meetings between the Kipsigis and Kisii elders. Naturally I agreed.
I just received the following text message from Malesi:
"Jared is walking in the air. He just finished chairing a meeting that brought together District Commissioners, Members of Parliament, and elders from Kispsigis and Kisii. He says it went so well he doesn't think fighting will continue. We have been working to see this day when we make the first step. AGLI, through FPCD (Friends for Peace and Community Development), AGLI's partner in western Kenyan, gave 108,000/- ($1550) for this and Uzima gave 40,000/- ($575). The journey is still long and much money needed. The Lord reigns!" [NOTE: /- is the symbol for Kenyan Shillings.]
If this has saved the life of even one person, our efforts have been rewarded. Thanks to Jared for this great effort!
Moses Musonga is the General Secretary of the Friends World Committee for Consultation Africa Section. He just buried his brother-in-law who was killed with six arrows in his body in the conflict around Kaimosi between the local Luhya and Kalenjin groups who both supported the opposition candidate.
One of our brother-in-laws, Wilson, is an over the road truck driver. He carried cement from Mombasa to the Rift Valley and returns with tea for export. In the Rift Valley, he was beaten up and all the cement stolen, but fortunately they did not burn his truck. Again both Wilson and the Kalenjin who attacked him were politically on the same side.
On Friday I attended a meeting of the Quaker Leaders and Saturday I clerked a meeting with the AVP facilitators from the western provinces. At this point no one thinks that the situation in Kenya is about politics - that is, about who won the election. The election was no more than a "trigger" that unleashed all the hidden, covered-up resentments that have built up over the years and decades. Although the media (including the international media) seem to report that things are calming down (ten people now being killed is reported on page 8 of the Daily Nation), there was no one in either of those two meetings who felt that this was true. Perhaps things are calmer in the cities (but not really in Kisumu) or perhaps the death of ten people is no longer "news". Or perhaps they are tired of saying the same thing over and over every day. Many doubt that a political agreement will calm the escalating violence.
It was heart-wrenching to hear person after person tell of the violence and destruction in their community. At least two people in the AVP meeting talked about how they had voted for Kibaki while their children had voted for Raila and this had brought a great deal of tension into the family. Rather than the usual "tribal explanation" for the voting, there is another one, that the older people wanted to stay with Kibaki while the younger people wanted change with Raila. But at least in the rural areas, it doesn't seem like the youth voted very much (while their elders did). I saw a statistic which said that 81% of the population in Kenya is below 31 years of age. Hard to believe, but with the rapid population increase of the 1970s and 1980s this is a possibility. Of course it is this younger population who feels left out of Kenya's future. There is no doubt, by the way, that the MPs elected on Dec 27 last year are much younger and better educated than those from the previous parliament. Many "old" politicians who have been elected decade after decade were defeated. In a breath of fresh air (compared to the US where a politician remains in office until he retires or moves on) only 80 out of 212 MPs were re-elected (this includes the leaders such as Kibaki and Raila).
There were seventeen facilitators (including Gladys and me) at the AVP meeting. After we finished the de-briefing mentioned above, we discussed how we could reach the youth.
We then talked about the kind of programs we would like to do. My goal for the next six months, pending raising sufficient funds, is to do 100 AVP workshops with 2000 youth in at least five sites. We learned from Rwanda that it is better to concentrate in a few areas with lots of workshops to impact a community rather than spread them out everywhere with little impact in any one community. We hope that in the next week or two the facilitators will go back to their communities and develop concrete plans for AVP workshops with the youth (or as one person suggested, with the police!).
I guess I need to end with a good story. Henry Mukwanja, a Quaker, works for the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) in the North Rift Valley. On Dec 30, when the violence began, he and two co-workers were in a remote place and they stayed inside for two whole days. On the third day they ventured out but ran into a menacing group of youth who were doing violence in the area. Henry called out, "God loves you." One of the youth responded, "No, he doesn't." And then what? Everyone started laughing and the tension was broken and all was well with Henry and his companions.