Thursday, January 31, 2008

January 31, 2008 - The Price of Violence

When Kristoffer came home from work today he shared many things that people are talking about at work. One thing is how much money people are making from committing violent acts against specific groups of people. He was told that people are paid 2,000 shillings (approx $30) for murdering one person, 1,000 shillings for burning something down, and 500 shillings for getting someone to flee from his/her home. It is alleged that funding comes from both sides of the spectrum, both the opposition and the government. This news is beyond sad. Whether or not it is true, the rumors are enough to terrify people in his office, particularly those who are Kikuyu.

Kristoffer also learned about his officemates’ neighbor, who has children aged 5 and 8 and who is Kikuyu. She had to move her children to another school for only Kikuyu children to ensure their safety. They didn’t understand this and she had to explain to them, for the first time in their lives, about the differences between tribes and that they could no longer go to school with children of other tribes. They didn’t even know that they were Kikuyu. It is easy to forget that children are always victims of violence, whether it is a full-blown war or not. This story reminds me a great deal of what happened in Rwanda and the need, whenever the conflict settles, for peace education so that children don’t grow up hating people of other tribes. If peace education doesn’t happen, then it is likely that children will carry on in the same manner of tribal discord when they became adults and leaders of the future. I know that UNICEF is building peace education into the school programs they implement in the displacement camps across the country.

Another woman with whom Kristoffer works with had a night guard at her home who was murdered last week. She learned that there were men walking around her neighborhood asking children about who lives in each home, their tribes, their staff, etc. The news also reports that Kikuyu people have been dressing up as police to inquire in a similar fashion. One way of enacting revenge against Luo members has been for Kikuyu to attack Luo men in the slums and circumcise them with machetes, as the Luo tribe does not believe in circumcision. Sexual crimes against women and children have been committed on all sides and are being reported in increasing numbers.

With the murder of another MP today, I was expecting a tragic afternoon. The uproar has been much less than expected, but it is difficult not to wonder if that just means people are getting ready for something to come tomorrow.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow - sad, but interesting stories there!!

I put 2 of my brightest students to read your blog. They where horrofied....

Thanks for your greetings to our girls!!

Good luck to your both....

Take care!!

Peter Tagesen, Baekgade 17