Monday, January 7, 2008

January 7, 2008 - News in Kenya

In a number of ways, the situation in Kenya is getting better. Religious leaders, the media, and average citizens are pushing for peace. Both President Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga have agreed to sit down to begin dialogue with the chair of the African Union, Ghanaian President John Kufuor, when he arrives on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Rallies scheduled for tomorrow have just been cancelled in light of his arrival, and this is a very good sign as they were feared to bring more incitement and violence.

In other ways, however, the situation is still extremely critical. Kristoffer learned at work today that in Nairobi alone, there are 2.1 million people at risk since the post-election conflict began. This is 66% of the population living in Nairobi's slums. "At risk" means perhaps they have been displaced, are without or almost without food and water, or have been victims of violence. At the big grocery store chain, Nakumatt, the Red Cross is accepting donations of food, water, and other emergency supplies. It was so easy for us to shop around the grocery store and then leave all of our donations right there for the Red Cross to appropriately disperse. We were happy to feel like we could contribute, if in a very small way. It is clear to us that while many Kenyans in Nairobi are still living life as it was before, for a large percentage of the city these are dire times. In other cities, especially Kisumu, the situation is even worse.

Yesterday one minister was saying on television something like, "Just because the violence has stopped does not mean there is peace in Kenya." We hope the AU's arrival will bring a political resolution so that the peace will really come.

The other big story on the news here, somewhat surprisingly to us, is America's election. We are eager for the results of New Hampshire's primary tomorrow and, apparently, so are many Kenyans!

LMW

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