Friday, January 18, 2008

January 18, 2008 - Tears in Kenya

After just watching the BBC's latest report on Kenya, I am brought to tears by the footage of what happened yesterday in the slums of Nairobi and even the "putting down" of a skirmish in the central business district. While I do not think the opposition is free of complicity in creating the situation the country is in right now, I tend to agree with its charge that the government has obviously given police a "shoot to kill" order against any person displaying or exercising any anti-government beliefs. The segment showed police throwing tear gas into innocent people's homes and beating people who had not provoked them. Kenyans have lost their freedom of speech, their freedom to peaceably assemble, and even people who are just wearing an opposition t-shirt have become a target for the police and paramilitary forces. Yesterday the police even detained several journalists (one from the NY Times) who they believed were inciting violence! Now of course there are Kenyans who have not been peaceful or law abiding; the NY Times reports that a group of men in the Kibera slum of Nairobi hijacked a train bound for Uganda last night because they are in such desperate need of basic supplies, namely food. Ethnic violence has improved a lot since the beginning of the year, but is certainly not completely absent from the situation. All in all, it is disgusting and heartbreaking to watch a country fall apart before my very eyes.

I have never felt so strange in a situation before. My immediate world - my compound, my street, the malls I shop at - seems unchanged these days. People are going to work and shopping and eating out, living normal lives. And then I see on the news that less than 4 miles away people are being shot at for speaking out against the government. If every person in America who didn't want George Bush to be president was shot at, we would have one of the smallest populations in the world!

So, sadly, nothing has changed here. Thankfully it is Friday and I can look forward to two days of Kristoffer being home from work. We are getting more furniture this weekend and should have ownership of our new car by the beginning of next week. Have we really been here for 6 weeks?

LMW

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