Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Election Violence In Kenya…

Over the past few weeks, I have been paying close attention to the post-election violence in Kenya. I’ve also been thinking a great deal about things I didn’t write about earlier, because I didn’t pick up on their importance at the time.

Joyce, who guided us on our humanitarian trips for the YWCA, did often mention the elections with noticeable anxiety. I assumed it was due to the constant visits by ambassadors and other officials, who were always accompanied by about a dozen armed guards.

Also, when were out in the city in Mombasa and especially in Nairobi, I was occasionally asked if I was a Kikuyu or a Somali before my American accent gave me away. Since I was not paying close attention to the elections at the time, I wasn’t aware that parts of the election tensions were due to ethnic tensions between the Kikuyu tribe (Kenya’s largest ethnic group) and the Luo Tribe (Kenya’s largest ethnic minority1.) So the real question they were asking me was “Are you [not] one of my people who is heavily invested in this election or are you a foreigner from a neighboring country who only kind of cares?” I thought they were asking “Are you a Kenyan or a tourist/immigrant?”

Immediately after the violence broke out, I sent this email to Leah:

I am praying for your safety. When you get this, please let me know how to send funds to you. I want to make sure you are safe.

She normally gets back to me in 2-3 days (when she gets money to go to the internet café), but it took her eight days to reply to me with this – (sic throughout)

My friend the situation in KEenya is pathetic.I have been indoors for 8 days.We are confused imagine i read your message and could not understand it so i replied the name of the bank of our group.Later I read it again and you are requesting for my account .Mine is with co-operative bank of Kenya-Digo road.Account name is Leah Kusah Anzani, [redacted].

One of the women of the enlithtened Support Group lost her 10months old baby boy on 31 December for all hospitals were closed and was burried without us attending for violence kept everybody indoors.

Pray and Pray for us.

Yours forever,

Leah Kusah

Also, this is an email from Jennifer – (sic throughout)

Hi Victoria,

We have been very concerned about the people; i did get a text messge from Paul and Richard they are not well but alive. Both said the communication is so bad, I will get back with you later this week. [redacted]



These are just some of my thoughts for now, no real analysis. Maybe later.

1 Coincidentally, America has a presidential candidate who is part of America’s largest ethnic minority group. Barack Obama’s father was a Luo.

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