Our latest roundup of voices from Kenyan citizen journalists writing about the political and social crisis following the disputed presidential election begins with blogger Joseph Karoki breaking news of the presence of Ugandan militia in Nyanza and Western Province:
Last night I recieved news that there were reports of Ugandan militia in or around Nyanza Province and Western Province. I waited utill I got confirmation from the ground. After several late night phone calls, I did confirm that Ugandan Forces were indeed within Kenyan borders. Just within the last hour Ugandan Army Spokesman, Major Felix Kulayigye, confirmed the deployment of the troops on Tuesday, saying “it is to forestall possible spill over of violence in Kenya” ["in Uganda" - Editor].
Why would Ugandan send its troops into Kenya?:
Uganda is a landlocked country that relies heavily on the political stability of Kenya for imports and exports through the Mombasa Port on the Indian Ocean and is dependent on the the safe passage of goods through Kenya.The political instability has had devastating effects on Uganda’s economy. Uganda, fuel prices have risen from USh2,400 (Sh100) to USh5,000 (Sh225). Most oil importing companies have reported that they have not replenished their stocks after their reservoirs dried up. So there is motive as to why Uganda would get involved.
Kenyan Jurist, among other things, commends the work of Kenyan radio, Kiss FM:
o I would like to commend KISS FM for the work they are doing. Props to Carol Mutoko and Nyambane for the good work they are doing. To the other radio stations, think outside the box.
o I was in town in the city yesterday a a queue of other Kenyans trying to get some airtime. The conversation revolved around what the GoK was doing to resolve the current impasse. The general view was that the President should have more visiblity. Everyone hated those pro-forma and overly formal statements by the President calling for peace etc without dealing with the election issue. His handlers should take note.
o Yesterday, the President is said to have met MPs to discuss peace intiatives. I am surprised that there was no live coverage or first hand coverage by the press. In fact there was no televised footage of the President in what I think would have been an informal setting. Other than speaking through surrogates, who do not seem to command public respect, he should come out with his clear thoughts on how he thinks the impasse should be resolved (Correct me on this if I am wrong).
He outlines practical steps that Kenyans can take to help others and maintain peace:
o Give RED CROSS food and clothing. This can be dropped at the following points Red Cross Offices off Mombasa Road, Nakumatt Outlets, KISS FM Offices (Lions Place, Waiyaki Way , Westlands) and CAPITAL FM (Lonrho House). You can purchase food stuffs like unga, beans, salt, cooking oil and UHT milk and drop them in the collection boxes. Imagine if each one of us could spare at lease Kshs. 1,000/- what a difference that would make. Remember there's more of us than then.
o People need to keep talking. It is frustrating not to be able to talk to you relatives and friends not only to find out how they are but to VENT. Please SAMBAZA airtime to those who dont have.
o Be kind to police officers. They are just trying to maintain order. They too have relatives and friends caught up in the violence.
o Those of you who know anybody who is anybody, call them, tell them we need to resolve this issue like NOW.
Kenyan Pundit posts the link to Kenya Red Cross website and criticises the Kenyan government for not doing anything to help those who have been misplaced:
For those who are looking for the Redcross link, here it is. I’m really just stunned by the fact that the government is not even attempting to avert the humanitarian crisis – there’s no talk of shelters, no talk of relief supplies, zero. They can sit and blame ODM all they want (though it seems to me both sides are willing to sacrifice innocent lives), but at minimum they have the resources to alleviate the suffering of those who have been displaced and they’ve done nothing. Have heard reports that Kikuyus in Eldoret are being offered GSU escort out of the area to Central Province – nothing about what happens when they get there and nothing about those people who’ve grown up in Eldoret and know no one in Central. I think there’s an opportunity for those who want to help to find a way to channel resources to charitable organizations and religious organizations that have been struggling to cope on the ground. Will think about this on the plane and I’m open to suggestions (leave a comment or send an email: kenyanpundit-at-gmail-dot-com).
As usual, Kenyan Jurist uses his legal expertise to put the whole crisis in the Kenyan legal context:
• I have said and will say again, the courts will not provide a solution to the current crisis. What we need is a political solution that resolves the issue of legitimacy and justice. The solution needs to deal with structural problems relating to the conduct of elections in future and providing a road map for the resolution of such disputes in future. A court of law cannot provide and will never provide this. It will only tell us the winner and the loser and that is not what we need at this point. It therefore comes as s surprise that the Chairman of the Law Society of Kenya (Disclosure; I am a member) has announced that the Society will file an Election Petition on behalf of all the Kenyans to challenge the elections results. I have, in my previous posts, alluded to the problems inherent in the cess pool that is the law courts.
However, I did not discuss one important implication of the filing of an election. Once an Election Petition is filed, all matters relating to the challenging the election results become SUB JUDICE. As the rule has sometimes been interpreted in the extreme sense it means that parties cannot talk about the election results. It may also mean that the full breath and depth of election result cannot be ventilated outside the court process. In short it may mean that we all SHUT UP! We all become slaves to the court proceedings.
Quiet so far in Nairobi this morning. Armed police and soldiers are stationed on every corner, roundabout and potential flashpoint of the city on my side of town, close to Kibera. It looks like they want to prevent people getting evern close to Uhuru Park where opposition ODM leaders want to hold a rally. Word is that their supporters will try to slip past the cordon in ones and twos, and then meet up once inside the city centre. Let’s see.c
So what are people doing to avert this crisis?:
One important thing to repeat is that no one expected this and therefore, understandably, no one had a contingency plan in place for the country going up in flames. However, once the shock subsided, Kenyans swung into action. The first response was humanitarian, getting food, clothing, blankets, medical professionals and medical supplies in. The humanitarian response comes first because if your house is on fire, you immediate priority is to stop it burning. Once you have stopped the fire then you can start examining whether it was petrol, diesel, a faulty gas cylinder etc that caused the fire. Right now we are still fighting the fire, literally and metaphorically. The biggest challenge, apart from the usual logistical challenges of mounting such an operation, was the lack of safe passage into the area as the security situation deteriorated. As the government was nowhere to be seen, the humanitarian response revolved around identifying and talking to local Community Based Organisations (CBOs) on the ground in areas of violence and using their networks to reach those affected. CBOs are very important in situations like this because, they know many of those who are perpetrating the violence personally, they know where tensions are the highest, they know key people who can help reduce those tensions, and they have distribution channels through which supplied can pass. It has been heartening to see big international NGOs recognise and work with small CBOs on the ground.
However, there was one big problem, communication. The severe lack of mobile phone airtime vouchers meant that information could not flow up from the ground. Many of us in Nairobi and other urban areas were running around looking for airtime vouchers which we can send directly to another mobile phone enabling them to make calls and send txts. Another problem was that as these CBOs are, as the name suggests, embedded in their community, many of them were caught up in the violence and were displaced themselves. So for example, some people had airtime on their phones, but couldn’t charge their phone batteries. It has to be repeated again that the government’s response has been pathetic thus far (that is a separate post on its own).
Gerald Baraza analyses the crisis in the context of class exploitation and argues that Kenyan leaders are aiding Western media bias against Africa:
The personalities of leaders like Nguema, Idi Amin, Kamuzu Banda, Ibrahim Babangida, D.Arap Moi, Jean Bedel-Bokassa, and Mobutu Sese Seko provide fascinating patterns and models for research into the African traits and idiosyncracies. They form the caricature of the African in the minds of outsiders who see Africa as one inhabited by persons of lesser mental capabilities and people completely incapable of governing themselves!
What is happening in Kenya, gives the alignment and realignment of political forces mostly at the domestic level. At the core of it all is the continuing imperialist exploitation of Kenya by a largely unproductive and irresponsible dominant class. The unfortunate result is the further marginalization, exploitation, impoverishment, domination, and denigration of poor Kenyans by the rich Kenyans. Am sorry to say that these leaders are a total disgrace to Kenyans and Africans in general.
It kills me to imagine that some of the most arrogant and selfish leaders that are a stumbling block to the realization of true democracy in Kenya like Uhuru Kenyatta have never passed a single exam in any institution of learning despite all the advantages that they were born with.
By being arrogant and selfish, the Kenyan leaders are just aiding the deliberate conspiracy in the Western media to continue propagating the terrible picture of Kenya and Africa abroad and to satisfy the warped entertainment demands of a generally uninformed public to continue the historical denigration and marginalization of African-Americans as descendants of barbarians and as people who should thank their gods that “kind” Europeans brought them out of the jungles as slaves for mindless and genocidal exploitation as slaves.
White African posts a comprehensive list of blogs reporting and commenting on the crisis:
Here is a running list of blogs to keep updated on. If you have another one, send it in and I’ll add it to the list.
• Published by Coalition of Kenyans and Allies for Democracy on Dec 31, 2007
Category: Human Rights
Target: International Community
Description/History: The international community is very much aware that Mwai Kibaki and his Party of National Unity (PNU) rigged the December 2007 Kenyan presidential election.
In recognition of this fact, the European Union, Britain, and the United States have refused to recognize the Kibaki government as legitimate.
As members of the international community, we do not intend to allow this blatant act of disregard for the rule of law and for the will of the people of Kenya to go unchallenged.
The list of evidence of election irregularities compiled in this petition contains widely known facts and has been corroborated by various news sources.
1. All polls taken before the election favored Raila Odinga and his party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), with Odinga leading Kibaki by a margin of 4%. A mid-December report by the government's own intelligence service gave Raila Odinga an even larger lead of 8% to 15% over Mwai Kibaki. As the election drew near, the Steadman poll, which is conducted under the leadership of George Waititu, a close friend of Kibaki's, showed Kibaki catching up to Odinga although the total for the three leading candidates added up to 101%.
2. The Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) reported that Muslim voters, most of whom were expected to favor Raila Odinga, were denied voter cards in the leadup to the election.
3. Prior to the election, Raila Odinga warned that Mwai Kibaki and his party planned to illegally deploy Administrative Police (AP) as poll agents for the purpose of intimidating voters. While Mwai Kibaki originally denied these allegations, subsequent events showed that Odinga was correct–the East African Standard reported that 65,000 APs were in fact illegally deployed to various parts of the country.
Wendwa weighs Kenya’s options:
The Courts? No, thank you. The only reason Justice Minister Martha Karua is asking Raila to seek judicial redress, is because she knows very well that Kibaki has messed with the judicial system from top to bottom inside out. A PNU court of law doing an inquiry on ODM’s behalf can only either come out with results favouring PNU, or be suspended midway. As at this moment, the Kenyan judicial system can NOT be trusted to work not just for Raila, but for any democratic and patriotic Kenyan.
No-Confidence Motion on Day 1 of Parliament??
Being a Kenyan, having watched the news every single day for years and years, I can say with confidence and absolute accuracy that the majority of Kenyan parliamentarians have never been known to be trustworthy.
Surprisingly (hmm, maybe not surprisingly), I think that if Raila tried this again, it would work. I spoke to three people; one who lives around Hurlingham’s DoD, another in Eastleigh, and another in Kisumu, as well as the son of a powerful Moi- and post-Moi-era General, and they are saying the same thing: there is dissent in the armed forces. People are not happy. The army, truth be told, is largely an ODM army. It would be very easy for Raila to get these people on his side. And he has ways of getting to them – the same ways he used to find out about the Arturs, election rigging and other PNU-esque plots/scams.
Magaidi condemns Kibaki’s ineffective leadership:
The PNU’s/Government’s supremely irresponsible utterances such as “The president has been sworn in, the elections are over, the Kenyans have to accept the results, the opposition has to accept the results” (see one Raphael Tuju) and then in the same breath proceed to support GSU and police brutality by saying that “If the tear gas doesn’t work then unfortunately they have to use live bullets” leave a mind-boggling lot to be desired. References to “genocide”, “ethnic cleansing” and the such by the government spokesman really bring to bare, the ineptitude that exists in the Kibaki government. In usual Kibaki fashion, he remains holed up in statehouse continuing to pen his voluminous encyclopedia on ineffective leadership by keeping mum or disengaging himself from reality of the situation while the country desperately needs a sense of leadership. Is this the leadership we deserve?
Thinker’s Room discusses tactics that were used to rig the election:
• The strategy was simple.
o Stuff ballot boxes where possible. This largely proved impossible thanks to hawk eyed Kenyans at most polling stations. However it was executed at some constituencies where observers were denied access.
o Through willing proxies like Nyachae (Nyanza), Kombo (Western) and Mwakwere (Coast), secure at least 25% of the vote in the provinces Kibaki was not going to win on his own (besides the inevitable Central and Eastern)
o Move with speed to publish results of the opposition’s candidate’s presidential votes, while at the same time holding back the tally of the incumbent. It will not do to inflate the incumbent’s tally and turn up short. Or overshoot by several million.
o At ECK headquarters, have a series of “technical issues” that result in incorrect figures being published of the incumbent’s totals. Invariably, these would be larger, through means like judicious addition of zeroes to totals or surreptitious injection of the odd 20,000 votes. Inadvertent reduction of the opposition candidate’s totals would also not hurt. This would be courtesy of those ECK commissioners that so recently gained employment.
- Where to begin?! Perhaps the basics
-Town itself was calm today.
- Fuel available today,
- uchumi and other supermarkets open. Credit also available in Uchumi though restricted to 400 shillings worth per person. MPESA/safaricom office was closed.
- Food availability is so-so, bananas being sold, some kiosks open.
- Friends (of different tribes btw) were stuck in a place called Ndalat for 2 days, not able to get through because of roadblocks at one point escaped death from machetes (gosh this is terrible). These are not conventional roadblocks, they are manned by desperate youth who ask for your id, and also for money. There is a guy who parted with ksh1500 between town and the airport.
-Friends telling a kikuyu friend pole (sorry) because his house was burned. The thing is the people doing the burning are not even known to the people in the area, they are coming in from other places. I feel sick about this whole mess, cant even get myself to type the tribes kikuyu, kalenjin etc when typing this post. people are people. Because we are supposed to be ONE KENYA, this is shocking and utterly…shit, i cant find the word.
I have to go…
Today is an even sadder day. I am trying to keep my tears in check…but cant. Town was quiet in an eery, uneasy way. The hopelessness is palpable and the sadness in people’s eyes is overwhelming. Some streets are deserted, shops are closed and Eldoret as we knew it is gone.
There is an appeal for blood donations at Moi Referral and Teaching hospital
There were funeral arrangements being made for Lukas Sang, an athlete who was burned.I do not have all the details yet, but will update once i get more info.
What is Eldoret without Paul’s Bakery?
For many of the displaced, this was the only home they knew. where have they gone, and will they be able to return?
- Mr. Limo of Limo House Hospital, and a leader in the area; taped a peace message to air on Sayare TV station (The ban on live broadcasts is not helping, because the peace appeals need to be heard and seen as many channels as possible) Cant listen to local radio. How can we listen to music at this time?!
- Fewer people at the cathedral on Uganda road.
- Shortage of vegetables
- Airtime is expensive – double the amount actually. For Ksh100 worth of airtime it will cost you Ksh200
It is time to speak out and say, “Enough”:
• Now look what we’ve done, we Kenyans. Just look at us. It is a bloody disgrace—no, I’m not swearing, I am offering a precise description of the situation on the ground. Bloody and Disgraceful. We are now calling for our International mummies and daddies to come and save us, because we cannot understand how it is that we are laying waste to all we hold dear, and we are still tut-tutting and clucking and wringing our hands while our country burns. Much worse, we have decided that the only two people who can save us are the precise two men whose overweening ambition and horror of unemployment has led us to this despicable pass.
I am travelling across the country with a driver whose name begins with an “O” and because we are deep in PNU country, I am systematically torturing myself with thoughts of what would happen to him if ‘my’ people decided to retaliate for acts of violence against them in the rest of the country. How is it that there is such a space in my imagination, in my country, after I saw with my own two sceptical eyes last Thursday the enormous patience and trust that the people of Kenya were willing to invest in the democratic process? I was there myself, going from polling station to polling station, to record this moment, this ridiculously awesome expression of the popular will. I saw them: the grandmothers and the dreadlocked young men, the mothers with children strapped to their backs, the guy in the wheelchair, the wide-eyes schoolkids watching their elder brothers and sisters exercise their constitutional rights. I saw them, and rejoiced. I was crafting judiciously preening sentences about our organic democratic traditions when the Electoral Commission of Kenya stumbled, slid and fell all the way into its own private Idaho—and left us with a hydra-headed mess.
Enough. If we are to sink with the ship, let us at least not pretend that all along we thought it was only a spring shower that was brewing, and not a furious tempest. Self-truth is a good platform to stand on and from which to survey this mess and decide what to do next. Enough pretence.
After lots of back and forth and mental anguish for me I have decided to head back to Johannesburg where I’m currently based. It’s been a tough day. I’m from a multi-ethnic background and I feel like I’m being hit on all sides – family stranded in Kericho, no word from family in Kisumu and Western, in-laws under siege in Nakuru, relatives businesses being looted at the Coast, my mother emptying out her two stalls at Kenyatta market and carrying out things in plastic bags and duffel bags because mobs have threatened to burn down the market tomorrow – that’s her livelihood – it’s bad enough that she’s had no business for most of December. We are all feeling so helpless and are reduced to platitudes like “let’s hope for the best” and all “we can do is pray” and “it will end soon” and “these guys need to do something” but all we are doing is masking our fear that we are on a precipice.
I LOVE Kenya. That’s the only reason I’ve spent the last week practically chained to my laptop so that I can chronicle the unfolding events and keep folks who have no access to information updated. But like many of you out there, I find myself living a dual life for professional and personal reasons. And I’m battling with the feeling that I am leaving Nairobi just when I am needed here the most (actually I am).
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your words of encouragement and support, for sharing your stories (keep them coming), for sharing your opinions, for tolerating my draconian stance about comments (trust me I’d rather not have to moderate, it’s not an easy task), and for reminding me why I love Kenya so much even at its ugliest.