06 January 2008

Kenya in Chaos

(See update below)

From a recent e-mail:

Please pray for our friend, Jacinta, who lives as the sole caretaker of 23 orphaned children in the slum area of Kitale.... We had been trying to contact her since we heard about the situation in Kenya and she was finally able to call us tonight. It was one of the most difficult conversations I have ever had. She is alone in a small 2 bedroom home with 22 children who have not been able to leave the house for days because of the tensions in town. She was fri ghtened, alone and pleading for our help. I could hear the children's cries in the background. Jacinta is Kikuyu and knows that her tribe is under attack. She said that she has listened to gun shots near her home the entire day. The city is dangerous with mobs of roaming protesters who carry machetes, torches and clubs and are threatening Kikuyu people. She has limited food, no minutes on her cell phone (she used her last one to call us) and no one to call for help. She can't leave the house for fear of the roving mobs in town. She told me she is trying to stay away from the windows for fears of the 'bullets' that are flying.

From The Sunday Herald:
The past week has shattered Kenya's reputation as a country of peace and stability, where the press is free, democracy rules and Western tourists can holiday.

More than 300 people have been killed and at least 250,000 displaced as anger at Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election has exploded into violence unknown on this scale in Kenya.
In Eldoret, in the west of the country, where about 30 people were massacred in a church last week, Kikuyus have had their houses burned down by gangs of Kalenjins, Luhyas and Luos. Neighbour is turning on neighbour. Families have split up, with Kikuyu wives leaving Kalenjin husbands for fear of what their neighbours would do.

At roadblocks set up on every route out of town, gangs of up to 1000 young Kalenjin men, armed with machetes and bows and arrows, demand to see identity cards. Those with Kikuyu names are dragged out of cars and trucks - some are killed, others manage to flee. Less than 300 yards up the road, police, mainly drawn from the Kalenjin, sit idly by. Tens of thousands have sought refuge in churches and cathedrals.

It has been easy to describe the violence as tribal because much of it has been. But the trigger was political - the feeling, shared by foreign observers, diplomats, even influential members of the Kikuyu business community, that Kibaki's people stole the election.

Separating tribe from politics in Kenya is not so simple. Politics here is unashamedly tribal; there is no left and right, no liberal and conservative. The manifestoes of the two main leaders hardly differ.
Kikuyus have dominated the economy and the political scene since Kenya won independence in 1963. Even during the time of Daniel arap Moi, who was a Kalenjin, Kikuyus still held many of the most influential posts. At the last election in 2002, the first truly democratic vote in Kenya, the two main candidates were both Kikuyu.

This latest election was the first time the old Kikuyu political guard had faced the very real threat of defeat; the first time Luos, one of Kenya's largest tribes but one marginalised since independence, believed they could claim power.
The Kenyan blogosphere, already one of Africa's most vibrant, has never been so necessary. Bloggers such as Mental Acrobatics, Thinkers Room and Kenyan Pundit provided vital up-to-date information about the situation across the country. Often their sources, particularly Kenyan Pundit's, were better than those of most journalists.
Kenya has struggled with its national identity since 1963. Tribal divisions have been expertly exploited by a succession of leaders. Cornelius Korir, the bishop of Eldoret, who is currently sheltering some 10,000 people in the grounds of his cathedral, said too many Kenyans identify themselves by their tribe first, their nation second.
Update:: By GOD's wisdom and HIS establishing contacts via Steve ******** and others, over the years, the children and Jacinta were escorted out and brought to a safe place with food and shelter and love!!

GrĂ¢ce a Dieu!