Thursday, March 27, 2008

Future reports at

Dear friends of Kenya,

Dave Zarembka's reports are now available on the AGLI web site, You may also receive them hot off the press via email by subscribing to the distribution list; contact Dawn Rubbert, for details.

Thanks, greetings, peace and blessings,

Dawn Amos

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Update on AGLI U.S. speaking engagements

Dear All,

Gladys and I will be flying to the United States for three weeks. Thus you will not be receiving any reports from Kenya (although I might send out a "Report from the US" if something worth saying occurs). I will be speaking in many places. Here is what I have lined up so far. If you need more details about a particular event, contact me or Dawn Rubbert (

Dave’s Speaking Schedule in US for March 2008

Arrive in DC Feb 29, 7:20 AM

Sunday, March 2 - William Penn House, DC -- 6:30 potluck
515 East Capitol Street,
SE Washington, D.C. 20003
Phone (202) 543-5560

Monday, March 3 - Cincinnati, Ohio -- 7 - 8:30 pm
Community Friends Meeting
3960 Winding Way
Cincinnati, OH 45229-1950
(513) 861-4353

Saturday, March 8 - Portland, Oregon (evening)
Multnomah Meeting
4312 S.E. Stark Street
Portland, Oregon 97215
(503) 232-2822

Monday, March 10 - St Louis, Missouri -- Light repast 6:15 / Presentation 7 - 8:30 pm
St. Louis Friends Meeting
1001 Park Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63104
(for info call Dawn at 314-647-1287)

Thursday, March 13 - Wilmington, Delaware 7 pm
Westminster Presbyterian Church
1502 West 13th Street
Wilmington, DE 19806
(303) 654-5706
Rt. 52/Delaware Ave. at 13th / free parking beside the church

Friday 3/14 - Wilmington Friends School (individual classes) 8 - 11 am

Friday, March 14 - Haddonfield, NJ - 7 pm
Haddonfield Friends Meeting
Friends Avenue & Lake Street (One block west of Kings Highway)
Haddonfield, NJ 08033

Saturday, March 15 - Haverford, PA - Noon to 3:00 pm Lunch with David Zarembka - Presentation/discussion afterward
Haverford Friends Meeting
855 Buck Lane
Haverford, PA 19041

Sunday, March 16 - Bethesda, Maryland -- 12:30 pm
Bethesda Friends Meeting

Monday, March 17 - New York City, (tentative) Tuesday, March 18 - New York City, (QUNO), Tentative

Wednesday, March 19 -- Leave for Kenya

Friday, March 21 -- arrive in Kenya

Hope you have enjoyed my thoughts and experiences to date. I will resume the reports after I return to Kenya in late March.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262

Sunday, February 24, 2008

AGLI report February 24

February 24

Dear All,

The team lead by Kofi Annan was supposed to release the details of the power-sharing agreement between the two sides on Friday. That didn't happen. It seems like the Kibaki/PNU side is again procrastinating (they feel that time is on their side). So the Raila/ODM side has called for mass action on Wednesday (Feb. 27). Rather than just demonstrations, as in the past (which were broken up violently by the police), ODM is calling for what I would describe as a general strike. No one is to go to work; roads will be blocked, etc. Due to the recent history of violence this action will be extremely effective -- everyone will be afraid to travel or to go to work. Everyone will stay home and the country will shut down. On Wednesday we were planning to go to Nairobi for our flight to the US on Thursday. If the action is not called off by Monday, we will travel to Nairobi on Tuesday.

See how effective this threat is!

Yesterday Gladys and I went to Kakamega for a meeting with CAPP (essentially peace committee members) and AVP members from the various yearly meetings. During this meeting a woman from Chwele Yearly Meeting, which is right below the fighting on Mt. Elgon, told us that the previous night a member of one of the Quaker meetings was attacked by the Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLDF) which is responsible for much of the destruction and death on the mountain. His head was cut off and has not yet been found. (Note: Is it more "civilized" to attack people, say in Iraq, with heavy weapons so the body parts are all over the place?) Most of the Sabaot, who live higher up on the slopes of the mountain, have been displaced, so the SLDF is now moving further down the hill to steal cattle and goods killing people in the process. This area is very heavily populated by Quakers; every mile or two is another Quaker school. As the violence increases -- and the current political crisis has been a great "cover" for increased attacks and ethnic cleanings in the area -- the Quakers there will be more and more affected. Will the larger Quaker community in Kenya and the world take note of this and respond?

Yesterday we also bought goods in Kakamega for the internally displaced Lumakanda people who are now at the police station in nearby Turbo. We picked up four members of the Church including the pastor, James Majeta. As usual we delivered the food. There has not been significant rain in this area for almost four months. The IDP camp is at the top of a hill on fields that grew corn last year. The place is totally dry. The soil is very loose. The wind blows much of the time, sometimes very hard, and the dust blows everywhere. In an hour my hair (like everyone else's there) was covered with dust.

They told me that a cow dies almost every day because there is not sufficient grass to feed them. As I looked at the cows I could see that many were thin with ribs showing. Although some of the people have moved back to their houses (see the comments about Silas Njoroge below) and some have returned to Central Province (the Kikuyu "ancestral home"), those who remain do not have homes to return to (and perhaps do not even know where their "ancestral home" is.)

Here I will tell a story. You have to figure out the moral of the story. Gladys has a distant relative who works in Nairobi; but his wife and children live near us. These people are therefore Luhya, the dominant group in Lugari District. They are the ones who supply us each morning and evening with milk for our tea (and other uses). There are two older sons, Anthony, 21, and Nivan, 20. Both have completed secondary school and, as even they themselves say, are part of the "idle youth" who have nothing to do. About two weeks ago Nivan brought the evening milk about 6:00 pm. He went to the road, saw his brother and another friend, and they decided to walk over to Anthony's girlfriend's house. As they walked near the hospital and police station, there was a group of three Kikuyu boys following them. One of them came up to Nivan and started to attack him. The attacker then pulled out a machete and tried to strike him on the head. Nivan put up his left arm to ward off the blow and the machete cut through one of his arm bones and half way through the second. They rushed Nivan to the nearby hospital. About 8:00 pm the hospital called and told us to come and see him. This we did. By the time we reached the hospital he had been stitched up, given an antibiotic, and was doing fairly well considering the circumstances. Gladys paid the hospital bill. (It cost a little over $5. What would this have cost in the US?). Neither Anthony nor Nivan knew the attacker, but they did know the boys he was with. At this point it looked like this was an ethnic attack with a Kikuyu attacking a Luhya.

So then we went to the police station to report the incident. As soon as we arrived, the policeman said this was a case of a love triangle. If this is correct, then this is not one ethnic group attacking another, but "ethnic love" as two boys are fighting over the same girl (who is a Luhya). The only problem with this interpretation is that the girl is Anthony's girlfriend, yet Nivan is the one who was attacked.

Moreover, as Anthony said to me, "If I had a rival, I didn't know it." So you can decide, "Is this ethnic hatred or ethnic love?" As I have said before, if one investigated the details of many of these incidents, the results would not be too clear.

Last Monday Gladys called Anthony and Nivan's Mom and asked her to send them up with the evening milk. We talked with them more about the incident -- Nivan is recovered well enough. ("I don't want to be a cripple," he sometimes says. Then other times he talks about how lucky he was to put up his arm to ward off the blow since he probably would have been killed.) The attacker has fled Lumakanda area and no one knows where he is. One of the other Kikuyu boys had been put in jail but he was released since he hadn’t actually done anything that was a chargeable offense. We discussed with them the idea of doing AVP with the youth. Would they be able to assemble a group of 20 youth, male and female, of various ethnic backgrounds to have a workshop? They said they could so we arranged for five or six of them to come back on Friday to meet with us and Getry, the AVP coordinator; and they came. Five youth (2 female, 3 male; 4 Luhya and 1 Luo) came to discuss the situation with Getry. The result is that on March 3, Getry and two other facilitators will begin an AVP workshop with them which will include Luhya, Nandi (local Kalenjin group), Luo, and Kikuyu. They said they have known each other since they were kids in school.

But another interesting thought came out of the discussion. Getry had introduced the idea that the youth were being blamed for all the violence. Anthony responded that on Dec 30 (the evening the election results were announced and the violence started) many adults were telling the youth to attack the Kikuyu. In particular, the adults said to attack Silas Njoroge whose house was looted but not burned -- perhaps because it is close to the town and the police station. (He has now returned to his house.) If the youth killed someone, they were told they could come back for a reward. Anthony said, and the others agreed, that there was a lot of peer pressure to join in the attacks and the youth really faulted the older people for promoting this.

Ray Downing, a doctor at Webuye Hospital, (who formerly worked at the Quaker Lugulu Hospital up the mountain from Webuye) asked the question, "Why don't we study those areas (such as Webuye and Bungoma) where there was no violence?" In other words, rather than focusing only on the bad areas, why don't we try to understand the good areas? At one point I replied that I thought the Webuye/Bungoma area had not erupted into violence because the people there voted for Kibaki rather than Raila. (This voting was really anti-Raila, who they didn't like, rather than pro-Kibaki. Nonetheless, it got Kibaki the votes he needed.) Ray Downing replied that the older people in the area voted for Kibaki, but that the younger people voted for Raila. Later I was in a meeting where two parents said they had voted for Kibaki while their children had voted for Raila and that this had brought great tension into the family.

This led me to realize that it is the elders (Bush, Cheney, et alter) who send the youth to war in Iraq. It is the Kalenjin elders who send their warriors to attack the Kikuyu and the church which was burned down in Eldoret. It was the elders here in Lumakanda who encouraged the youth to attack the local Kikuyu. Where the elders did not encourage the youth, or perhaps discouraged the youth from attacking, the youth were not violent. If this interpretation is correct, then it is the older people who are responsible for the violence, death, and chaos in Kenya and not the youth who physically did the damage.

I guess this is enough thoughts for one day.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262

Thursday, February 21, 2008

AGLI report February 21

February 21

Dear All,

Politically things are not looking good. The Government (PNU -- Kibaki) side, after immense pressure from the US, Britain, the EU, and many others, has not compromised hardly at all. They are continuing to say much of what they said right after the election -- Kibaki is in power and the Constitution cannot be changed to accommodate any settlement. The Opposition side (ODM -- Raila) is planning to start holding demonstrations again after a week if Parliament is not called into session to vote on the Constitutional changes needed for a settlement. The Government then says they (ODM) are bringing on violence and ODM responds by saying that it is the Government who is violent when they forbid peaceful demonstrations as allowed by the Kenya Constitution and international law. The tear gas, water cannons, and live bullets are what is making the demonstrations violent. For some reason, the authorities in Kapsabet had allowed demonstrations before and they were peaceful and the youth blew off their steam. The Kibaki side wishes to procrastinate as long as possible since with each passing day they remain in power.

Noah Weksa, a PNU Member of Parliament from Western Kenya, a Quaker, and Minister for Science and Technology, has called for a power sharing agreement -- this is at some variance with the PNU hardliner stance. It will be interesting to see if some of the PNU, non-Kikuyu MP's start to break away to form that moderate middle that will be necessary for a resolution.

On Tuesday Gladys and I were at the Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT) meeting and I heard this interesting story. There are still about 1000 Kikuyu camped at the police station in Kakamega. On Sunday 350 Luhya who had been displaced from Naivasha, Nakuru, and Central Province and returned to their "ancestral land" as is the phrase here (i.e., ethnically cleansed) arrived in their truck at the police station, but the police turned them away -- presumably because the Luhya would have problems staying with the Kikuyu. When the truck returned to town, not really knowing where to drop the people, the bicycle taxi drivers got aroused. In mass, as they do during the rioting, they returned with the truck to the police station and demanded that the Luhya be allowed to stay there (or they would begin attacking the Kikuyu). The police backed down and the Luhya stayed with the Kikuyu in the police station, both as internally displaced people.

In the reports on the FCPT distribution which I missed when we were in Uganda, a number of people commented that the internally displaced people would see the Red Cross vehicles pass them by, but never stop to help. FCPT is distributing to those who have not been serviced by the Red Cross. These people are ethnically mixed, but none are Kikuyu. It seems that the Red Cross is servicing only Kikuyu.

People I know in Lumakanda have stopped me in the streets here to complain about the Red Cross not helping the Luhya. This should be investigated and if true, the Red Cross should be taken to task for this discrimination.

Our 42 one-day listening workshops for the 496 staff at the Center for Disease Control in Kisumu have been completed. I talked to the Director and she was very pleased with them as she had heard many positive reports from the participants. We had brought Chris, one of the HROC facilitators from Rwanda, to help out. The HROC program in Rwanda is planning listening sessions for survivors of the recent earthquake in Cyangugu at the southern end of Lake Kivu so Chris will be able to bring the Kenya experience back to Rwanda.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

AGLI Coordinator Speaking in the U.S.

Dave Zarembka will be in the U.S. March 2008. Here is a preliminary speaking schedule. Contact Dawn Rubbert, dawn -at-, for details. [Posted by the Other Dawn]

March 2 - William Penn House - DC - 6:30 Potluck
March 3 - Community Friends Church - Cincinnati
March 10 - St. Louis Friends Meeting 7 p.m.
March 13 - Wilmington DE, at Westminster Presbyterian Church 7 pm
March 14 - speaking to classes at Wilimington Friends School in a.m.
March 14 - Haddonfield Friends Meeting, NJ at 7 p.m.
March 15 - Haverford Friends Meeting, PA 7 p.m.
March 16 - Bethesda Friends Meeting 12:30 p.m.

AGLI report February 16

February 16

Dear All,

Actually this is a report about Uganda. For the last three days Gladys and I were visiting the AGLI programs in Bududa, Uganda. Bududa is a district on Mt. Elgon, but on the Uganda side of the border. It is actually a canyon type place with a small hill with a road all the way around it. The mountain towers up over Bududa and the slopes are filled with people growing bananas and plantains (cooking bananas). I would guess that the annual rainfall is 70 to 80 inches per year so everything is lush and green. The area is heavily populated and Uganda's birth rate is one of the highest in the world. This is very obvious in Bududa where children are everywhere. AGLI has two programs, a sponsorship program for 200 orphans (in Africa an "orphan" is anyone who has lost at least one parent) and a technical school called Bududa Vocational Institute (BVI).

I was told that there are Kenyan refugees in Bududa. In particular, there is a part Kikuyu woman and her son who were burned out of their house in Mombasa. She had been formerly wed to a man from Bududa and so she has returned to him -- I understand he is not very happy about this return of a long lost wife. The son is about 14 years old and having grown up in Mombasa speaks much better English than others and is way ahead of the children in Bududa in educational achievement. But he is not allowed to go to the local secondary school free because he is not Ugandan, but Kenyan. An American couple visiting, Barbara Wybar, an AGLI peace team member currently in Bududa, has agreed to pay for his first term fees.

The previous Saturday the orphans program had its first gathering since the beginning of the year. 118 orphans showed up. The program has a teacher with first aid experience so students who had health problems were asked to see her; about 15 did. The first was a girl who had a badly infected arm with puss flowing out. One of the American couple immediately took her to see a doctor in Mbale (the nearby big town) that Eric Goldman, AGLI's former peace team member in Bududa, recommended. The girl had a bone infection and was given antibiotics and will have to have an operation to clean out her wound. Luckily she will not lose her arm.

The second was a boy who had tied a rope around his wrist as he was walking a cow down the road. The cow bolted and the rope slid off his hand, seriously scraping off the skin. The third was a girl of 13 who had a sore on her leg. This looked simple until she said she had "women's problems." After some discussion, it turned out that the girl had been raped and had venereal disease. Besides treating the sickness, Barbara wants to get her counseling which is probably not available in Bududa so she will have to take her to Mbale which is about an hour away. The rest of the children just had the usual bumps and scratches of childhood that needed to be patched up.

I report this to indicate the complexity of the situation of poor children in the region.

When we returned from Bududa yesterday, Barbara called me to report that during the day, a policeman had gone to a small village nearby to arrest someone and he was attacked by a mob with machetes who slashed him to death. I was surprised because, while this happens often in Kenya, it is rare in Uganda and unheard of in Rwanda and Burundi. The people in Bududa are a Luhya group called Bugisu who are closely related to the Kenyan group on Mt. Elgon called Bugusu. The explanation of why this happened was that the violence in Kenya is becoming "contagious" to people in Uganda. On the day we went to Uganda there was a report in the paper of a violent conflict between a landlord and the kiosk owners/hawkers which became very violent and the police were unable to control the situation -- it seems just like many of the conflicts in Kenya. It is easy to let the genie of violence out of the bottle, but very difficult to get that genie back in again.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

AGLI report February 11

February 11

Dear All,

On Friday Kofi Annan announced that an agreement was being reached between the two sides and the details will be available early this week. People are guardedly hopeful that some accommodation will be reached. But, as they say, the devil is in the details. (One of my favorite explanations of the current crisis is from a woman who said, "On Dec 30 Satan came to Kenya.") I would not be surprised that the agreement when announced might lead to another round of violence as the "hardliners" on both sides will feel that they have been sold out by the compromises. Hopefully I am wrong.

The changes are supposed to be far-reaching. I have some qualms about the fact that 8 negotiators and their political parties are chartering the course of the country, meaning that women, youth, the religious community, NGO's, and the business community are all, as usual, left out. This was the case with the compromise in Burundi and the result has been a squabbling, ineffective government. When will the world develop a system where all parts of society negotiate the conditions for a country's existence and well-being? I am certain that both political parties will see that their interests are properly served before those of the other actors in the country. It is possible that the "compromise" may lead to a political storm (rather than a violent storm) by those who have not been consulted. Or perhaps everyone is so tired that they will accept anything handed to them.

Lumakanda town, this morning (Monday), has been more like a normal day than any other since Dec 30. Many people are in town going about their various businesses, the motorcycle taxi drivers are busy, and I can easily buy a newspaper!

What the Daily Nation (Kenya's largest newspaper with a circulation of over 1,000,000!) covered today was all those affected by the violence -- children not in school, children in IDP camps, colleges and other institutions who have lost their staff, manufacturing businesses that are closed, hospitals and other government offices which are understaffed as the employees fled, roads that aren't being built, lost employment, and the other costs of 6 weeks of violence and stalemate. A Quaker in Nairobi whose wholesale establishment was looted says he will re-open, but not now. A large-scale farmer I know says he is cutting back on the acreage of maize (corn) he will plant next month because he does not know if he will get seeds and fertilizer, or what price he might have to pay. The cost of travel has almost doubled -- for example, a matatu from Lumakanda to Kakamega has gone from 120/- to 200/- ; and the price increase does not seem like it is going to go down to where it was before. I have seen people wanting to get a ride in a matatu asking for the price and, seeing that it is more than they have, not making the ride.

[Note: /- is the symbol for Kenyan Shilling.]

Okay, I need to report some good news. There is a place in Kenya called the Laikipia Nature Conservancy ( It is a 100,000 acre preserve next to Lake Baringo in the drier parts of the Rift Valley. They have a 60 person education center and they have done peacemaking activities there in the past in addition to their normal purpose of conservation education. Right now they have 40 youth from the Nairobi slums, many of whom were involved in destruction, there for a week of "healing". They needed some help so the United States Institute of Peace [USIP], which has supported both AGLI and the Conservancy in the past, recommended us to them. As a result Getry Agizah, Peter Serete, and Martin Oloo, all young, experienced AVP facilitators, are leading these youth through the AVP course on esteem, communication, cooperation, and non-violent conflict resolution each morning. In the afternoon others lead sessions on art, drama, music, etc. The three facilitators had problems getting there because the bus broke down. I asked Getry if she was happy and she reported, "We are very happy and glad to have the Nairobi youth. Life is simple and peaceful. Just finished the sessions.
We are on the truck going around the forest (where there is much wildlife)." Likewise we are continuing the daily listening sessions with employees at the Center for Disease Control in Kisumu.

As the situation in Kisumu has calmed down these trainings seem to have become routine with the participants being energized at the end of each day with the training activity that is called "On the Way Forward."


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262

AGLI report February 8 part II

February 8

Dear All,

I have not made a report for the last three days because each day I have been on the road. Tuesday Gladys and I went to Kakamega to buy relief supplies for our Lumakanda IDP's who are now in Turbo. On Wednesday, I went to Kaimosi to the Friends Theological College to work out a plan for them to do AVP in their churches during April vacation. On Thursday, Gladys and I went in the north Rift Valley to distribute relief supplies with the Friends Church Peace Team; I have reported on this in another email.

While others think Kenya is calming down, I don't. I think that it has entered another stage where the dramatic headlines of burning buildings and multi-deaths is over and a more subdued, but perhaps a more destructive and deadly mopping up, has begun. I can call this "reaping the harvest of the prior violence."

Tuesday on our way to Kakamega we stopped by Florence and Alfred Machayo's house to deal with the maize (corn) that needed to be bagged for delivery in the North Rift. Alfred was not there because he was escorting a Luhya friend of his who was a magistrate in the Nandi (Kalenjin) area. The magistrate had been told that he had to leave Nandi in a week or his house would be burned down. So, he was looking at the plot he has in Lugari District and determining how he can live there with his family. In other words, one family quietly (as far as the media is concerned) displaced. I suspect he will be out of his job also.

In the last few days another home was burned near Kipkarren River. In this case the old Kikuyu had died, but his daughter lived in his house, which was burned down, and his nice cassava field was completely destroyed. In my report on the visit to north Rift Valley, I mentioned the considerable violence on Mt Elgon. The paper reports that over 1000 teachers have not reported for work in North Rift Valley and that many students have also not returned. When we visited the Lumakanda people in the camp at Turbo, they told us that their numbers have been increasing. Two communities in Lugari District, which formerly had not been attacked, were attacked last week during the unrest and more people had fled to the camp.

In other words, houses will be burnt here and there. The violence of the past will compel people to flee as soon as they feel that they are being targeted. The targets are no longer only the Kikuyu in the western provinces, but anyone who happens not to live in his/her home area; i.e., who do not speak the local language.

It has occurred to me that the situation in Kenya is exactly the same as in the region of Rwanda, Burundi, and North and South Kivus. But in this case the issue is within one nation while the other is international. Let us compare the Rwandans with the Kikuyu. Rwanda is over-populated and so the Rwandans immigrate to North and South Kivu (and also Tanzania and Uganda) where they are considered "foreigners" by the local people and by the Governments of the region; and therefore, by the international community. Almost all the wars in the region since 1990 have been based on whether the Rwandans have the right to live as citizens, with benefits and privileges, in one of these countries. The answer is "No," but the Rwandans don't want to leave, so fighting erupts.

In Kenya, the Kikuyu were originally confined to Central Province which is much smaller than Rwanda. The number of Rwandans in Rwanda is more or less equal to the number of Kikuyu in Kenya. Since 1900 the Kikuyu have moved out of Central Province to other parts of Kenya under the assumption that they were Kenyan citizens moving within their own country. But others, particularly the Kalenjin and Maassi groups take the positioin that Kikuyu were given land that was stolen from them by the British and therefore they don't have "rights" of land ownership in these areas.

Since Kenya is itself a nation supported by the international community, the regionalists don't have the equal right to expel the Kikuyu as the Congolese, Tanzanians or Ugandans have with the Rwandans. I read in the paper today that Tanzania is expelling 220,000 Burundians who have been in Tanzania since 1972; 36 years! Burundians do not seem to be very welcoming of these returnees because they really have no place to put them.

In effect our concepts of who belongs to what nation needs to be questioned/considered, while at the same time we have to address the issue of whether a group that historically occupies a certain territory has the right to exclude others. And then there have been fights over the boundaries of these "indigenous territories" -- this is essentially what is happening in the conflict on Mt Elgon. I am certain that almost everyone reading this report will come down on the side of the right of a person to live anywhere "in his/her own nation." But one must remember that the great "ethnic cleansing" happened at the end of World War II when millions of people were relocated to their "home country" whose boundaries had changed substantially so that Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Latvia, etc. all became ethnically homogeneous and the multi-national countries of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia had to be broken up into ethnic enclaves. The American (and now European) efforts to keep out illegal immigrants is no more than this same issue -- if Americans don't like Mexicans in their borders, while shouldn't people from North Kivu not like Rwandans, or Kalenjin's not like Kikuyu, Luo, Luyha, and others within "their borders?" There have been suggestions (not considered seriously) that Kenya ought to be divided into two new countries with the Rift, Western, and Nyanza Provinces becoming Kenya II.

These are all hard issues. I don't see anyone in the international community addressing them at any depth. Surely the United Nations and all its constituent governments are committed to the current status quo. I would like to see some considerations of better alternatives.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262

AGLI report February 8 part I

February 8

Dear All,

"Feed the Hungry."

Two weeks ago Kenyan Friends held a conference in Kakamega sponsored by the Friends Church in Kenya, Friends United Meeting--Africa Office, and Friends World Committee for Consultation--Africa Section. At that meeting, it was decided to form a committee which has been titled "Friends Church Peace Team" (FCPT). I was appointed to the committee which has now formed an "Emergency Relief and Reconciliation Programme."

As its first major activity, yesterday, about 30 Friends visited a number of internally displaced people in the Trans Nzoia District next to Mt. Elgon in the Rift Valley. With funds donated from the United States, England, and elsewhere, a truck filled with food, maize (corn), beans, rice, sugar, salt, cooking oil, blankets, and soap, was be to delivered.

Gladys and I were assigned to provide the forty 200-pound bags of maize; here in Lugari District maize is cheaper since this is the maize belt region of Kenya and there is a surplus for export elsewhere. Gladys and two youth spent Monday and Tuesday bagging the 40 sacks at Florence and Alfred Machayo's home. Then on Wednesday she waited all day for the truck she had hired to take the maize to Kakamega. It never showed up so she arranged for another truck to come at 5:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. When it had not shown up by 8:00 AM, we called John Muhanji of FUM who was organizing the distribution. He decided to have the truck which was coming from Kakamega with the rest of the goods drop by the Machayo's and pick up the maize (and us as we had traveled the five miles or so to her house). This worked out well and actually saved the transport costs.

The people who had gathered in Kakamega came up north in three vehicles and together with the truck we drove to a junction near where we were going to distribute the food. Henry Mukwanja who works for the National Council of Christians of Kenya in that region had identified about ten places where approximately 4000 people had not received any assistance from either the Red Cross, the Government of Kenya, or the World Food Program. These people noted that the Red Cross trucks passed them by to deliver food and supplies to the Kikuyu who were in an IDP camp down the road -- as non-Kikuyu, they saw this as another example of the Government's favoritism to Kikuyu over other people in Kenya.

Gladys and I joined the third group with a Seventh Day Adventist Church which was going to a small shopping center, 5 or 6 small shops on the side of the road, at Misemwa where officially there were 259 families totaling 1600 people; an average of about 6 people per family. The amount of food we unloaded seemed massive--14 two hundred pound bags of maize, for example.

Yet each family was given only about 10 pounds of maize, 2 pounds of beans, a blanket, a cup of sugar, a half cup of salt, a few ounces of cooking oil, and the families with children received some rice. This would be enough only for a few days! Of course the place was packed with people waiting patiently for the distribution -- many women. I estimated that 2/3 of the families were headed by women; there were many small children (the older ones, I hope, were in school), old men, youth, etc.

These people were not Kikuyu, the group usually targeted in the violence in western Kenya, but mostly Luhya and some Sabaot (Kalenjin group). There was no internally displaced persons camp like we are go to in Turbo; the people live in houses in the area. For example, in the small Seventh Day Adventist Church, eight women were living with their children. Others had rented a room in the area and a few were staying with relatives. One woman told me that she had moved with her husband and four children -- and a fifth was well on its way -- to live with her sister who also has four children and there was not enough food for this suddenly, vastly expanded, family. All the displaced people had come with nothing more than what they could carry.

As usual when one delves into the details of conflict, the situation is different from the usual simplistic explanation of Kibaki versus Raila, Kikuyu versus Luo. The people here had fled from Mt. Elgon where there has been an active conflict for the last year and a half. Human Rights groups in Bungoma had tallied 400 dead and 150,000 or more displaced before the election violence began on December 30. Note that this compares to the official count of 1000 dead and 300,000 displaced from the election violence. In other words, some conflicts are "more important" than others. But the fact that this conflict was not properly dealt with when it occurred indicates why so much of Kenya could erupt into similar violence.

[NOTE: David and others visited Mt. Elgon in early November 2007. AVP workshops had begun there prior to the election. David wrote a report about the history of the area and the violent conflict which had already been going on for over a year.]

The conflict in Mt. Elgon was between two clans of the Sabaot group, the Soy and Ndorobo, over land. The first group, which thinks that they have not been dealt with fairly in the land distribution by the Government have formed the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLBF). They have automatic rifles and retreat into the forests on Mt Elgon to hide. We had seen an area on Mt Elagon where every house on the hillside had been destroyed. The election results were used by the Sabaot Land Defence Force as a reason to attack anyone in their area from another group. This included Kikuyu who fled to the camp nearby, as well as the Bugusu of the Luhya group. I had heard of a case where 11 Bugusu were executed by the SLBF and the bodies thrown into a latrine. While I have never heard any reference to this massacre in the media (compare this to the 17 who were burned to death in the church near Eldoret), this was confirmed by a doctor at the Webuye Hospital where the exhumed bodies were later taken. So it did not take much for the Bugusu to flee. Then the Ndorobo, who were supplied by the Kikuyu in their trading across the border into Uganda, attacked the Sabaot for attacking the Kikuyu. So, Sabaot also had to flee to Misemwa.

I talked at length with Mildred, one of the 8 women living in the church. She has six children, the youngest was on her shoulder as we talked. Her husband had left for the day when the SLDF came in red uniforms (i.e., this is an organized rebel group) and told them to leave. So she did. She has no idea where her husband is and there is really little way for him to find out where they have fled. She does not want to return to her farm on Mt. Elgon, where she had lived for 12 years, but has little idea what the future will bring for her.

Andrew and his wife and four children (he was also holding his youngest child on his shoulder) were attacked in the middle of the night and fled down the mountain with nothing but what they had on. He lives in a room in a house nearby. He says that he survives by doing day labor when he can. He also told me he did not want to go back. When I asked people, they told me that the land on Mt. Elgon is very fertile and well-watered and that is why they had bought plots there in the past.

While the media, both internationally and locally, reports (as the Government would like them to) that the situation in Kenya is calm and returning to normal, this is clearly not the case on Mt. Elgon. The previous night there had been some killings (unconfirmed) and hundreds more had fled down the mountain. These newly displaced people were not on the list of 259 families to receive the aid we had brought.

After three hours distributing the relief supplies at Misemwa and talking with the people, after a short sermon and prayer, we left and joined the other people at a small "hotel" where we all got a snack and discussed the pro's and con's of what we had done for the day. For example, in our case, since the site was not a "camp" and this was the first time that the group had received any assistance, there was no distribution system in place as occurs with the Lumakanda IDP group in Turbo. On Saturday Gladys and I will go to Kakamega to meet with the Friends Church Peace Team to decide what we will do next.

Although the food seemed to be little in relationship to the need, I still felt good knowing that we had helped as we were able. In this kind of work, one cannot get discouraged by the unmet needs, but must focus on what has been accomplished. If people only eat well for a few days, it is still better than having to scrounge around for a little food and going to sleep hungry. Moreover, as I have learned in the past, visiting people who have been the victims of violence is perhaps one of the most important peacemaking activities one can do initially. As the Burundians say, "A real Friend comes in the time of need" (I am the one who capitalized the "F" in friend).


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262

Monday, February 4, 2008

AGLI report February 4 II

February 4

Dear All,

While burning houses and deadly violence fills the news here in Kenya, AGLI has played a part in a great peacemaking activity!

The Kipsigis are a Kalenjin group around Kericho in the Rift Valley. The Kisii are their neighbors across the border in Nyanza Province. As soon as the election results were announced, the Kipsigis began targeting the Kisii; they were incorrectly perceived as having supported Kibaki in the election. Last Thursday [1/21] when a Kipsigis Member of Parliament [David Kimutai Too] was killed by a Kisii policeman, extensive violence broke out on the border between the two groups. Between ten and twenty people were killed; many, many wounded; and tens of houses burned.

Jared is an AVP facilitator in Kisii and coordinator of the Uzima Foundation program there (Uzima works with youth empowerment). He is married to a Kipsigis woman who had to go into hiding in order keep from being attacked.

Malesi Kinaro wrote a proposal to AGLI to support negotiation/reconciliation meetings between the Kipsigis and Kisii elders. Naturally I agreed.

I just received the following text message from Malesi:

"Jared is walking in the air. He just finished chairing a meeting that brought together District Commissioners, Members of Parliament, and elders from Kispsigis and Kisii. He says it went so well he doesn't think fighting will continue. We have been working to see this day when we make the first step. AGLI, through FPCD (Friends for Peace and Community Development), AGLI's partner in western Kenyan, gave 108,000/- ($1550) for this and Uzima gave 40,000/- ($575). The journey is still long and much money needed. The Lord reigns!" [NOTE: /- is the symbol for Kenyan Shillings.]

If this has saved the life of even one person, our efforts have been rewarded. Thanks to Jared for this great effort!


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262

AGLI report February 4

February 4

Ancient Tribal Hatreds

As I indicated in a previous report, most of the international reporting about Kenya is based on the assumption that "ancient tribal hatreds" explains what is going on. Evidence which does not fit into this framework is ignored. Let me give some examples.

A Luhya woman from Lumakanda Friends Church is hiding a Kikuyu woman who gave birth on Dec 30 when the violence started. I know a Luo (who are supposed to "hate" Kikuyu) whose brother is hiding a Kikuyu in his house. I have never seen an interview with anyone who is doing this, even in the local Kenyan press.

3000 people in Kibaki's home constituency in the center of Kikuyuland voted for Raila. There were 7 other candidates to vote for including other Kikuyu if they didn't want vote for Kibaki. Raila continually says (but its never reported in the international press) that a lot of Kikuyu voted for him.

There is a hit list out with 25 Kikuyu who have "betrayed their tribe." They are the human rights advocates and leaders of NGO's who have criticized the government over the election tallying, the use of live bullets, the restrictions on press freedom, and, the right to hold demonstrations. In other words, some of the most vocal critics of what is happening are Kikuyu. Some of the violence in Naivasha was Kikuyu gangs fighting other Kikuyu gangs. Since this does not fit in -- it has been ignored.

There are large areas of Western Province (perhaps over half of the area) and possibly also parts of Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces, but I don't have as much information about those regions, where the Kikuyu have not been forced out, their houses and shops have not been looted and burned, and they are still living peacefully with their neighbors.

Many non-Kikuyu have been in the forefront of visiting and bringing relief to those Kikuyu in IDP camps. The Red Cross volunteers who were helping at Lumakanda were mostly local Luhya.

I have heard one sermon and heard reports of other sermons that a good Christian does not loot, destroy, and/or kill ANYONE.

One can explain both WWI and WWII as "old tribal hatreds" between the Germans and the French/English. From before 1066 to 1914 European history can be explained as "ancient tribal hatreds" between the English and French. As you can see, this doesn't explain anything, but rather is an excuse to avoid delving more deeply into root causes of conflict. So when you see articles about ethnic animosities (to use the current more polite term) in Kenya, please realize that you are being served only icing.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262

Sunday, February 3, 2008

AGLI report February 3

February 3

Dear All,

Moses Musonga is the General Secretary of the Friends World Committee for Consultation -- Africa Section. He just buried his brother-in-law who was killed with six arrows in his body in the conflict around Kaimosi between the local Luhya and Kalenjin groups who both supported the opposition candidate.

One of our brother-in-laws, Wilson, is an over the road truck driver. He carried cement from Mombasa to the Rift Valley and returns with tea for export. In the Rift Valley, he was beaten up and all the cement stolen, but fortunately they did not burn his truck. Again both Wilson and the Kalenjin who attacked him were politically on the same side.

On Friday I attended a meeting of the Quaker Leaders and yesterday (Saturday) I clerked a meeting with the AVP facilitators from the western provinces. At this point no one thinks that the situation in Kenya is about politics -- that is, about who won the election. The election was no more than a "trigger" that unleashed all the hidden, covered-up resentments that have built up over the years and decades.

Although the media (including the international media) seem to report that things are calming down (ten people now being killed is reported on page 8 of the Daily Nation), there was no one in either of those two meetings who felt that this was true. Perhaps things are calmer in the cities (but not really in Kisumu) or perhaps the death of ten people is no longer "news." Or perhaps they are tired of saying the same thing over and over every day. Many doubt that a political agreement will calm the escalating violence.

It was heart-wrenching to hear person after person tell of the violence and destruction in their community. At least two people in the AVP meeting talked about how they had voted for Kibaki while their children had voted for Raila and this had brought a great deal of tension into the family. Rather than the usual "tribal explanation" for the voting, there is another one, that the older people wanted to stay with Kibaki while the younger people wanted change with Raila. But at least in the rural areas, it doesn't seem like the youth voted very much (while their elders did). I saw a statistic which said that 81% of the population in Kenya is below 31 years of age. Hard to believe, but with the rapid population increase of the 1970's and 1980's this is a possibility. Of course it is this younger population who feels left out of Kenya's future. There is no doubt, by the way, that the MP's elected on Dec 27 last year are much younger and better educated than those from the previous parliament. Many "old" politicians who have been elected decade after decade were defeated. In a breath of fresh air (compared to the US where a politician remains in office until he retires or moves on) only 80 out of 212 PM's were re-elected (this includes the leaders such as Kibaki and Raila).

There were seventeen facilitators (including Gladys and me) at the AVP meeting. After we finished the de-briefing mentioned above, we discussed how we could reach the youth. We then talked about the kind of programs we would like to do. My goal for the next six months, pending raising sufficient funds, is to do 100 AVP workshops with 2000 youth in at least five sites. We learned from Rwanda that it is better to concentrate in a few areas with lots of workshops to impact a community rather than spread them out everywhere with little impact in any one community. We hope that in the next week or two the facilitators will go back to their communities and develop concrete plans for AVP workshops with the youth (or as one person suggested, with the police!).

I guess I need to end with a good story. Henry Mukwanja, a Quaker, works for the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) in the North Rift Valley. On Dec 30, when the violence began, he and two co-workers were in a remote place and they stayed inside for two whole days. On the third day they ventured out but ran into a menacing group of youth who were doing violence in the area. Henry called out, "God loves you." One of the youth responded, "No, he doesn't." And then what? Everyone started laughing and the tension was broken and all was well with Henry and his companions.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262

AGLI report January 31

January 31

Dear All,

This morning things seemed to be calming down after the violence from the assassination of Mugabe Were, an opposition MP, Monday night. But today a second opposition MP, David arap Too, was assassinated by a Kisii traffic policeman in Eldoret. The Kisii are perceived to be allied with the Kibaki side so now there is already great retaliation against the Kisii.

This is clearly politically motivated since now with two deaths, ODM has lost their majority in the parliament. A second motive is to wreck the negotiations that Kofi Annan is facilitating. Will the Kibaki Government stop at nothing to remain in power???

Through Malesi and Uzima Foundation staff in Kisii (which is part of Nyanza Province), AGLI is supporting the following dialogue between the Kisii and Kalenjin (Kipsigis):

"Jared, the Uzima field officer from Nyanza, and his deputy George, had began the week in high hopes. He had met elders and administrators from Borabu and Sotik districts. Meetings were planed for today [1/31] and tomorrow. Then the Kipsigis warriors struck in the night killing many Kisiis. Jared ended up being involved in ferrying the injured and dying to hospital. I talked with the PC of Nyanza because the Sotik DC was being very uncooperative. Today they have been doing some shuttle diplomacy. 6 Kisii people died from the clashes and many are still in hospital. I am so impressed by the way my staff are insisting on dialogue for the 2 tribes in spite of extreme provocation. I really thank God for that."

Tomorrow we were planning to go to Kakamega for the first meeting of the Quaker Emergency Peace Committee. Gladys was to go on to visit her father for the day. Then we were going to sleep in Lubao at the Peace Center where on Saturday all the AVP facilitators were going to meet to discuss the way forward for AVP in western Kenya. At the moment I doubt we will be going anywhere tomorrow.

Time for many more prayers for the situation in Kenya!


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262

AGLI report January 30

January 30

Dear All,

One of the major problems of life here in Kenya at this time is to know what is true from what is rumor. I formerly reported on the 30 Kikuyu that were reported to have been thrown into the Kipkarren River (even though covered by AP, CNN, and Time, it was not true). Today we got a call from Janet Ifedha (AVP facilitator from Kakamega) asking if the Kipkarren River bridge was being destroyed by youth. It is not -- we just went over it.

So it was hard to tell truth from fiction with regard to the events of yesterday.

We were told that Nandi youth (a Kalenjin group across the road from us) were coming up the road to attack Kikuyu and burn Kikuyu houses up here in Lumakanda. Police were supposedly at the small bridge coming up the hill to Lumakanda, fired shots at them, and they fled. I didn't think this was very plausible since they would not know where the Kikuyu lived or had lived.
Then today we went out for a short trip (5 miles) to Florence Machayo's house for a meeting of Lugari AVP facilitators. At the Lumankanda junction, all the signs (except the Jehovah's Witnesses) were destroyed. Two tires had been burned on the road and we could see where the tarmac was burned and large potholes beginning to form. So what is the truth?

Then about 2:00 pm yesterday a man was walking by our house and talking on his cell phone. He said in Swahili, "A Luo has been killed in Lumakanda." Wow. So Gladys went out to find out. She was told that some Kikuyu had come to shell their maize (corn) off the cob and that it was suspected that they would spend the night and attack the local people. This is not really feasible as I think it would be certain suicide on their part to stay. But this is what people might believe. The violence in this region is frequently enhanced by the concept, "You are trying to kill me, so I will kill you first." Of course the other side thinks the same thing so preemptive violence occurs. We heard that crowd of local youth collected at the house and the police dispersed them, killing one.

Today our electrician told me that the person had been killed by the police when he was taking some things from his house and the police mistakenly thought he was a looter.

I am not even certain if someone was killed.

Our electrician told me that a person was also killed by the police in Kipkarren River yesterday. When we passed through Kipkarren River today, the normally very busy town was almost deserted.

Is this evidence that someone was killed?

The violence has reached a member of the family. The brother of Gladys's brother-in-law was arrested in Chavakali (near Gladys's home area) for setting vehicles on fire. What is difficult to understand is that he is not a youth, being somewhere around 50 years old. I'm certain we will hear more about this as time goes on.

There were about 12 people from Lugari District at Florence Machayo's house. They were there to discuss the situation and what they might do. It was quite interesting to hear various people's takes on the local violence. Most seemed to think that they knew who the attackers were although they said that local people were sometimes put in trucks and taken elsewhere to do the violence and others were trucked into Lugari area to do the violence here. If this is correct, this means that there is significant pre-planning of the violence.

In Chekalini, the area where Florence lives, the high school is now the internally displaced person's camp for about 1000 Luhya who have fled the violence in Nakuru and Naivasha. Like the Kikuyu IDP's here, they have lost everything. More are coming all the time as they are being forced out of Central Province for being non-Kikuyu. So soon we are having another humanitarian disaster. A man stopped me on the road during my morning walk through town and said that it was not fair that the Kikuyu were getting relief and the others were not. At that time I did not understand since I did not know that so many internal refugees had shown up in Lugari. Lugari is the closest Luhya District along the main road that goes through Eldoret so I suspect that many of these people will stop here.

None of this, of course, is reported by the media since no one has reporters of any kind in the area. Are those who have died in Lugari District accounted for in the national total which is now officially 850? I doubt that many of them are. There are hundreds and hundreds of little places like Lumakanda, Turbo, and Kipkarren River. What is the real truth of what is happening in all these communities?

While Eden Grace and her family have been evacuated from Kisumu to Nairobi because of the violence in Kisumu, the media reports that things are becoming calmer. Perhaps this is true in Nairobi, but my step-son, Douglas, who lives in Nairobi reported, "Some skirmishes early today. Life seems not to be usual because most people appear worried about their security. Leaflets were dropped warning some communities to get out." Has the media gotten "used" to the violence and a few people killed in Kisumu and a few more in Eldoret and some more in Kibera is no longer "news"? Yesterday definitely was the worst day in Lumakanda since we returned (we were not here the first four days after the election results).

So truth, the reality of what actually is happening around you, is difficult to grasp because all those normal markers you have about your surroundings are suspect. It is so easy to be "sucked in" by rumors. And yet, to understand the dangers around you, you have to listen to others.

Enjoy the Super Bowl if it hasn't happened yet!!! There you can watch reality on TV and get instant replay from many angles on anything dramatic or controversial. Here we live in a state of unknowing.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262

Friday, February 1, 2008

Talking Points for Friends - Feb 1

The post-election crisis in Kenya:

Talking Points for Friends

Patrick J. Nugent

Member, West Richmond Monthly Meeting of Friends

1st of Second Month 2008

These talking points are provided for those who are asked, “Why is this happening?” They do not answer the question “What is happening?” or summarize the train of events in Kenya. Rather they outline the patterns the events have followed and some widely-identified root causes. It is hoped that they will supplement reporting in the mass-media with some perspectives that are difficult to capture in briefer radio and television news reports.

Please click here to download a PDF of the entire article.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

AGLI report January 29

January 29

Dear All,

I am feeling very discouraged.

Over the weekend (which now seems so far in the past) I was at the Quaker Leadership Peace Conference in Kakamega. If you would like to see the documents from the conference, please ask Dawn at or by reply email. [Editor: they are pasted into the blog below.]

It was an excellent gathering. Almost every yearly meeting and Quaker organization sent their representative(s). There is no doubt that Quakers in Kenya will now give prominence to the Peace Testimony in this time of chaos, destruction, and death. The participants were very concerned about the situation and serious in their efforts to respond to Kenyans, to Christians, and to all Quakers. They affirmed that the Quakers needed to be neutral in the political situation. I was surprised to find that I was appointed to the Coordinating Committee for current and long-term actions since Gladys and I played a rather quiet role during the conference. But AVP is on everyone's lips.

Getry Agizah, the AVP coordinator, was also put on the committee, along with Hezron Masitsa (AVP coordinator in Nairobi). The committee is supposed to meet in Kakamega on Friday but who knows if we will be able to travel.

On the way to the conference those who took the bus through Nakuru saw the Total gas station on fire. This was the beginning of major fighting in Nakuru which later spread to Naivasha and then on Monday to western Kenya. This morning on the BBC news, I heard the spokesman for the Kenya Police say that everything is calm now, while the next report was the BBC reporter in Kisumu talking about all the tires burning, total lack of movement, roads cut, etc. Is the Kenyan Government in the same country that I am in?

I was going to report some news from last week when my laptop crashed. Kaimosi (the major Quaker center in western Kenya) has been quiet as I have reported before. It is along the boundary between the Tiriki (a Luhya group) and the Nandi (a Kalenjin group). But on Wednesday someone stole a cow; the other group retaliated by burning some houses, including the kiosks by the road leading into Kaimosi, and everything got out of control. Six people were killed and at least 70 houses were burnt. Kaimosi Hospital was receiving lots of people with cuts from machetes, arrows stuck in people's bodies, and other injuries from the violence.

There is absolutely no political explanation for this violence since both of these groups voted overwhelming for ODM, the opposition party.

Yesterday Gladys told me that one of her relatives was going to Eldoret to take another relative who had a broken leg. When they reached Turbo he was forced to show his ID card (by name, people can tell he is not a Kikuyu). He put his relative on the side of the road while he was forced to dig up the road until he got tired. He was then required to return to Lumakanda with the relative with the broken leg rather than proceed on to Eldoret.

Only eight people out of 40 showed up at the listening session in Kisumu yesterday and they were distracted by the events going on around them. We have canceled the workshops for today. Otherwise the Sunset Hotel where the workshops are taking place and the facilitators are staying is quite safe and they have not experienced any violence nearby.

We were supposed to go to Kaimosi tomorrow to talk to the Friends Theological College students about organizing AVP workshops in their home churches during the April vacation, but we have put this off until next week. We have been making a weekly delivery to the Lumakanda IDP's now living in Turbo, but I don't see how we can do it this week. Florence Machayo who lives only about 5 miles from us wants to have a meeting tomorrow of all the AVP coordinators and others involved in peace work in Lugari District, but I don't know if Gladys and I will be able to go even that short distance!

So you can see why I am so discouraged.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262

Monday, January 28, 2008

AGLI report January 28

January 28

Dear All,

On Thursday, when I was going to send you an update, my laptop completely crashed. Later in the day Gladys and I went to the Quaker Leadership Peace Conference in Kakamega. Getry Agizah (AVP coordinator) has lent me her laptop and so I am back in communication. I can't respond to emails I got before Thursday and I don't have any names in my address book; but Dawn sends out these reports and I can remember her email address.

Things are getting really bad. At 8:00 AM this morning, Eden texted me, "I'm hearing that they are already burning and slashing near the stage [bus station] in Kisumu." Five minutes later she texted, "Hearing gun shots now." By 10:00 AM she wrote, "They have closed all the roads and the airport. We are hearing much gun fire." Florence Machayo came by early this morning because we were going to visit one of the more hard-hit villages in Lugari District. When she got here, she said that people were already congregating in Kipkarren River and she had been told that in Turbo the youth had dug a trench in the road stopping all traffic to and from Uganda, Rwanda, and beyond.

Gladys called the leader at the IDP camp in Turbo and he said that the IDP's were fine, but that the road was closed. Later Florence called and told us that the youth in Kipkarren River had cut down a big tree and blocked the road. So we are not going anywhere!!! (Lumakanda is between Turbo and Kipkarren River.) We also heard that a Kikuyu house in Malava was being burned (this is on the way to Kakamega) and that Kakamega is "wild." Getry says that right next to where she had fled they burned a Kikuyu's house (but were able to rescue the three children in the house), a school in town, and many other buildings.

This is all in response to rising ethnic gang fighting over the weekend, first in Nakuru and then in Naivasha. The paper says 90 people have been killed. This is mostly Kikuyu "revenge," but also included Kikuyu on Kikuyu violence in Naivasha as one gang accuses the other of voting for the wrong political party. The police are reported to be just standing by as all this happens as they are unable to control the events. The army has been brought in to Nakuru to control the town. In Lugari I had heard that the army had been deployed in some areas and as soon as I was told this, I was told they were abusing people. They would accuse someone with a bag of maize (corn) of having looted it and then seize all of that person's maize. Nobody knows where the maize goes! The army is not supposed to be involved in internal policing, but clearly as the police have become overwhelmed, the army has been brought in.

Gladys has a good friend, Jacinta, who has started an orphanage and school in Campi ya Moto, a small village near Nakuru. This is in the area where the violence is most extensive. Gladys lived there for four years while working for Jacinta's brother. She therefore knows everyone in the community. Campi ya Moto and all the houses around the orphanage have been destroyed. All the neighbors Gladys knew (and I met on our two visits last year to the orphanage) are gone to "who knows where." The orphanage which normally had 40 children now has 200. It survives only because it is being guarded by the police. They have no water and little food.

There is a glue that holds a society together. It consists of many things -- customs, culture, respect for others and their property, laws and their enforcement by the police and courts, etc. The glue in Kenyan society was always weak. There was much on-going violence before the voting -- for example: the clashes on Mt. Elgon that AGLI had begun working on; others in Molo/Rondai; continued deadly conflicts in the pastoral areas; and many acts of violence including the common practice of lynching suspected thieves.

The police are noted for being very corrupt--I watch them collect bribes from the matatu conductors every time I am in a matatu. The courts are also known as being corrupt. Within the culture there exists great jealousy of any one or any group which seems to be doing better than others.

I am afraid that the little glue that Kenyan society had is disintegrating and that chaos is overtaking normalcy.

Much was made of it last week when Kofi Annan got Raila and Kibaki to shake hands. While this was a good, positive first step, my feeling now is that the situation is "out-of-control" of everyone. As the Open Letter to Leaders and Citizens of Kenya from the Quaker Leadership Conference I just attended states (I will report more on this at another time):

"We invite you to join us in praying for deliverance from evil spirits which are at work in our country, and continue to intercede for Kenya."


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative/ Friends Peace Teams Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya--phone 011 254 726 590 783
Office in US--1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104--phone 314/621-7262

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Plan of Action from the Kenyan National Quaker Peace Conference

Kenyan National Quaker Peace Conference
Plan of Action
27 January 2008

Immediate crisis-intervention measures

Political crisis:
  • Issue a public statement from this Conference
  • Use the media to publicize messages of peace and reconciliation
  • Document and disseminate stories of people acting in courageous non-violent ways
  • Engage in non-violent direct action to stop violence and retaliation in our communities
Humanitarian crisis – internally displaced people:
  • Shelter, accommodation
  • Food, water, fuel
  • Clothing
  • Medication, first aid, health care
  • Security and safety
  • Sanitation
  • Trauma counseling
  • Bible distribution
  • Activities, games
  • Access to schooling
Inter-communal crisis:
  • Mediate in situations of acute conflict
  • Assist in reconciliation between displaced people and those who threatened them
  • Reintegrate displaced people into the community, rebuild trust between neighbors
Psychological and spiritual crisis:
  • Crisis-intervention counseling
    • Train primary school teachers on the effects of trauma on young children
    • Offer trauma counseling for IDPs
    • Reach the “disaffected” youth, e.g. boda boda drivers, touts, the unemployed
  • Scale up AVP to reach as many places as possible
  • Establish “listening programmes” for people to tell their stories in a safe environment
  • Preach the gospel of peace, educate our own people on the teachings of our church
Crisis of youth in this country:
  • Begin a pilot programme for civic and peace education in Quaker schools
  • Organize youth work camps to help with humanitarian work and rebuilding

[Editor: we lost the formatting of the document but will soon repair the structure of the remainder of this content]

Organizational capacity:

Establish a national coordination body for the short-term work

Address need for personnel, including placement of volunteers

Networking and communications

Guarantee integrity and transparency in use of funds, to maintain our good reputation

Possible cluster areas for longer-term work, and potential activities:

Youth Empowerment
Create a fund for youth empowerment
Youth programmes, e.g. volunteer training and action, work camps, vocational training

Seriously examine the involvement of youth in the structures of the Friends Church

Re-engage with our Quaker schools

Peer-mediation and AVP in the schools

Economic Development

Income generating activities

Teach practical business skills, entrepreneurship

Humanitarian Relief

Relief Fund for future disasters

Peace, justice and non-violence – a movement for social transformation toward a culture of peace

Peace Research Institute (at the University)

Peace Radio, other publications

Workshops, mediation, trauma healing, AVP, listening

Restorative justice movement

Peace curriculum through the Ministry of Education

Training for non-violent direct action for social change


Establish an organization which can organize the Friends voice on Public Policy matters

Build the capacity of Friends to be involved in the civic agenda at all levels

Use the model of QUNO “quiet diplomacy”

Spiritual development of the Peace Testimony

Review and improve the content of the membership class curricula

Strengthen the peace and justice programmes at Friends Theological College

Organizational capacity

National Management Committee – develop institutional capacity

Network with other peace organization in Kenya and around the world


Friends United Meeting and Friends World Committee for Consultation are both active in raising overseas funds for relief and reconstruction. The Conference urges all Kenyans to raise local funds and to deposit them in the account of Friends United Meeting, Barclays Bank, Kisumu Branch #2007332. All money will be used efficiently and effectively, with transparency and integrity.

Open letter from the Friends Peace Consultation in Kenya

27th January 2008

To the Leaders and Citizens of Kenya

The Quaker leadership of Kenya gathered together in Sheywe Guest House in Kakamega between 24th and 27th January 2008.

The Friends Church in Kenya and Friends around the world are concerned with what has befallen Kenya in the last one month. As a peace church, we are horrified by the continued wanton destruction of human life and property.

Kenyans need to learn that any violent action they take against their neighbours is an act against God’s way. Our actions and thoughts therefore must be rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In our last communiqué to the leaders, we implored upon them to uphold the principles of truth, justice peace, simplicity and humility (Psalms 85:10) and to forgive each other.

We cannot be blind to what is happening to this country and its citizens. During the deliberations and reflections, representatives of the Friends Church realized that the underlying causes of the current conflict have been present since long before the general elections of December 2007. We note in particular: economic injustices, youth disempowerment and frustration, and cleavages of religion, ethnicity, class, gender and age.

To our leaders:

We thank our leaders for starting a process of negotiation, and we believe and trust that they will follow up in earnest with a negotiated settlement. In this context therefore we say to our leaders:

- We do understand your anguish at this time, and we ask you to approach the situation prayerfully. We urge you to relax your “hard line” political demands and dialog more deeply for the benefit of the country, that no segment of Kenyan society emerges as “losers” but we all may “win” in a peaceful society.

- We urge you to reopen schools that have not opened, in order to allow students to continue with their education.

- We urge the leaders and elders of various communities not to incite or manipulate their youths to perpetuate terror among the citizenry, but to encourage and guide them to act responsibly.

- We denounce the instances of excessive force used by the police against the citizens.

To our fellow Kenyans:

- We appreciate the courage and passion that you, our fellow Kenyans, have shown since the beginning of the post-election violence by contributing and supporting the victims of violence, and we urge you all to continue with the same spirit.

- We appeal to you engage in reconciliation among and rehabilitation of displaced people, integrating them back into the places from which they were displaced, not sending them to other parts of the country.

- We remind you that this country and its land belongs to all of us. Let us not destroy it for by doing so, we put our own future generations in jeopardy. We need a negotiated social contract to live together as Kenyans.

- We urge you to resolve problems in a peaceful way, because we know that there is hope for peace in this country.

- We warn you to desist from rumour-mongering which increases hostility and uncertainty, and urge you to use modern means of communication for positive ends.

- We know that those most affected by this conflict and violence are women, children, disabled and the aged. We must address their suffering, and protect and care for them.

- We encourage every Kenyan to look for “that of God” in every person and to treat life as sacred.

- As Kenyans, we urge you to uphold our core national values, practice forgiveness and embrace reconciliation.

To our fellow Christians and other Religious groups:

- As people of faith, we must not engage in violence and revenge because if we do so we betray our faith in God.

- We invite you to join us in praying for deliverance from evil spirits which are at work in our country, and continue to intercede for Kenya.

As a peace church, we are involved in humanitarian, spiritual and social/economic empowerment of our people. We urge everyone to take time to assist his/her neighbour in order to bring normalcy to the affected people, affirming truth, justice, peace and reconciliation in our nation.


Jacob Neyole
Presiding Clerk

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dave Z is offline - Jan 24

From the "other Dawn," Dawn Rubbert, Program Manager of African Great Lakes Initiative

Dear All,

David Zarembka phoned me from Africa this morning. Sadly, his laptop has completely crashed. He will not be able to send messages as regularly or as frequently as he has been. Now he will need to trek to cyber cafes to read and send email. His response time to emails he receives will be much slower.

From today until Sunday Dave Z is attending the Consultation for Quaker leaders in Kenya which was spearheaded by Friends United Meeting (FUM) -- Africa Office. Attendees will consider the Quaker response to the current violence and crisis. I don't know whether the schedule for the Consultation will allow him to communicate with us.

Be sure to visit to learn more about African Great Lakes Initiative's peace work, and about service opportunities in Africa.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

AGLI report January 21

Dear All,

Shortly after the first Quaker missionaries came to Kenya in 1902 and had their first converts to Christianity, the requirements of being a Christian were at great odds with traditional society. I know (or rather knew since many of these have died) some of these original converts and they are not like your every-day Christian that we know. They had to make major life changes to become Christian, usually over the complete objection of most of their family members. These folks are/were stout Christians. As time went on many others converted, and living separately was no longer necessary.

By now almost everyone in Kenya considers him/herself a Christian (or a Moslem). But like the US, and many other places, many of the nominal Christians rarely go to church except for weddings and funerals and it plays only a little part in their lives.

On Sunday at Lumakanda Church the preacher was the wife of the pastor. She lives in Eldoret and is having to move because she rents a house owned by Kikuyu. Many of the houses around her have been burned down. She took as her text, Mathew 5:20 which reads, "I tell you, then, that you will be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven only if you are more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires." She started out by saying that Christians don't smoke or drink alcohol (all Protestant religions in Kenya forbid smoking and alcohol consumption). But then she went on to the main part of her sermon, namely, that Christians do not take up weapons to use on their neighbors. She gave the example of a man who is a pastor and took a spear to join in on the violence in Eldoret. This man, she clearly indicated, was not a Christian.

Note that this was the sermon in a small church in an out-of-the-way place. But I think that this is a common feeling among those who go to Church. While this is a Friends Church, I think that this message could be heard in many Christian churches here. In other words, the God-fearing Christians are against the violence. But that division between the "God-fearing Christians" and the nominal Christians is huge. The church-going Christians shun those who do not attend church and make little outreach to them. This is particularly true of the youth. Consequently, when violence came, the God-fearing Christians had no points of contact with the looters. They were cowed down by fear, many expecting to be the next target of the wrathful crowds.

There is no political settlement in sight. One newspaper columnist stated today in the Daily Nation that the longer that things drag out the better it is for the Kibaki side: so, they have little incentive to genuinely engage in mediation. On the Raila side this means that time is against them so they might turn to drastic measures.

Although there were no demonstrations over the weekend, the violence did not subside. Once the genie of violence gets out of the bottle, it is very hard to put it back in. The papers report 10 or 15 deaths on Sunday. Eden Grace texted me that two people were killed in Cheptulu, the market right next to Kaimosi Hospital (which had formerly escaped the violence). Most of the deaths are in Rift Valley where the various Kalenjin groups feel that outsiders have taken away their land. This is not only Kikuyu, but also Kisii, Luo, Luhya, and other groups. This happened before in 1992 when 1000 people were killed and 100,000 or more displaced. Many people (like all those who said Kenya was such a stable country) seem to have forgotten this. As we have learned from Rwanda and Burundi, when these kind of clashes occur and nothing is done about them, a renewed, more vicious cycle of violence will occur. This, I think, is what is happening in the Rift Valley (and I live only 3 miles from the Rift Valley). As Job, my son-in-law, told me back in about 1992 when he was in fifth grade, the Kalenjin warriors came all the way past Lumakanda attacking the Luhya--this was in the days before Lugari was a district with a police station in Lumakanda.

To summarize, the election results were the spark for the violence. The tinder was all the alienated youth in Kenyan society. As time goes on the ethnic dimension will increase and attacks will lead to counter-attacks. As attacks become successful in forcing people to leave the Rift Valley, the violence becomes self-reinforcing leading to more attacks. At this point we must be thankful that the attackers have only traditional weapons -- clubs, bows and arrows, machetes, and spears. If they had guns (which, if the violence continues, they will soon acquire in one way or another) the the death toll would soar and soar. Even now I am not sure that a political settlement will end the violence in the countryside, although it would give the security forces a greater chance to deal with it.

Tomorrow Gladys, my wife, and I go to Kisumu (for the first time since the violence began) to help plan the series of 40 listening workshops for the 900 employees of the Center for Disease Control. We plan to begin conducting AVP workshops at various sites in Western, Rift, and Nyanza Provinces. We have hired two more AVP facilitators to help organize this work -- Peter Serete from Kakamega and Bernard Onjalo from Bondo, Nyanza Province near Kisumu. They will work under our energetic AVP coordinator, Getry Agizah. Malesi Kinaro, Gladys and I will give direction and, of course, I must raise the necessary funds.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative/ Friends Peace Teams Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya--phone 011 254 726 590 783
Office in US--1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104--phone 314/621-7262

Saturday, January 19, 2008

AGLI report January 19

Dear All,

I have not written for the past two days because mostly I stayed home. This was partly because I needed to catch up on my email and other work at home and partly because with the continued demonstrations by ODM, many people were not going anywhere as travel was so uncertain. My son-in-law who is a motorcycle taxi driver here in Lumakanda told me yesterday he earned only 200/- while he usually earns 800/- to 1000/- on a normal day! [NOTE: /- is the symbol for Kenyan Shillings, 65-70 to the US dollar.]

I did go for a walk with Gladys yesterday to her sister's house about two miles down the hill. We passed the house of Silas Njoroge who is the Kikuyu leader at the IDP camp. His house was looted, but not burned. Further down the road his brother's house was looted and burned including all the maize (corn) he had in storage. They are considered the "richest" Kikuyu in the area, but neither one had a particularly fancy house -- much like many of the people around here.

Ray Downing is a Mennonite doctor working at the hospital in Webuye (the largest town to the west of us, towards Uganda). He asks this question: Why was there no destruction of Kikuyu shops and homes in Webuye? (This is also true of Bungoma and many other towns in the country.) He asks: "Why did these towns escape the violence? Who is studying the reasons why some places did not have violence?" I think these are really interesting questions -- any students out there needing a research topic?

AGLI and FPCD (Friends for Peace and Community Development, our Kenyan partner) will be doing 40 one-day AVP-style listening workshops with the 900 employees of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) from the US which has a major presence in Kisumu. The conflicts in the country have brought out latent ethnic feelings among the staff. We will be doing 2 workshops per day for twenty days. We are bringing one HROC facilitator and one AVP facilitator from Rwanda to be part of each 3 person facilitator team. It will be really interesting to see how this goes. Sessions begin on Wednesday of this coming week.

Friends United Meeting (FUM)--Africa Office has spearheaded the arrangement of a Consultation for Quaker leaders in Kenya next week to consider the Quaker response to the current violence and crisis. The consultation starts Thursday evening and will go through Sunday. Gladys and I will be there (so don't expect any reports during that time). This will be an opportunity for the Quaker leadership in Kenya to really assert themselves as a peace church. I hope they "grab it."

The ODM has not scheduled any more demonstrations but rather is now turning to an economic boycott of institutions controlled by Kibaki and associates. I don't know how that will go. The 3 days of attempted demonstrations resulted in 21 more deaths -- all but one, I think, killed by police including some clearly innocent people (a mother sitting inside her house). While there are always ups and downs about some kind of dialogue, I don't see anything significant happening yet so the stand-off continues.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative/ Friends Peace Teams Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya--phone 011 254 726 590 783 Office in US--1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104--phone 314/621-7262

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

AGLI report January 16

Dear All,

Yesterday I ran out of electricity because it has been cloudy for the last two days and my solar panel did not charge up my battery. It is cloudy again today, but I am writing this early before the little electricity I have runs out.

Last night the ODM candidate won the election for Speaker of Parliament and as soon as it was announced on the radio, we heard shouts of joy from the neighborhood. Today doesn't look so good. We had no problems in going to Kakamega (except the Supermarket, where Gladys was shopping, closed their doors and kept everyone inside when the police were chasing the youth through town). In Nairobi, Douglas Shikuunzi, my step-son, called to say that everyone in the central city was told to go home and there were no matatus so he will have to walk home.

In Eldoret today I have heard from a number of sources that things are really bad with the youth organizing to attack the police (and vice versa). Stores have all shut down.

Gladys (my wife) and I went to Eldoret yesterday with Malesi, Getry, and Shamala (our partners in Friends for Peace and Community Development). We went for a listening session with the staff of the Eldoret Prison with whom we have done a lot of AVP (and where we did two AVP workshops with the inmates). The group was very diverse (but no Kikuyu). My favorite image is of one of the guards, who is an AVP facilitator, indicating how good AVP was with his automatic rifle pointing right to his mouth! I have become so used to seeing police, guards, etc with guns, I didn't even much notice this until he spoke about AVP. The situation in Eldoret was really bad and everyone was affected. One woman, whose husband is a Kisii (it is not only Kikuyu who are being targeted), was threatened after she was seen helping some members of her family. Others talked about most of their neighbors being burned out. The situation in Eldoret seems quite different from elsewhere (Nairobi, Kisumu, Kakamega). A Kalenjin said that most of the destruction in Eldoret was done by villagers from the countryside. There everyone who is over 25 is required to join in a group with the old warrior mentality and these are the ones who did the attacking; such as at the church which was burned down. They can only be stopped by their elders: if the elders refuse to bless their attacks. This it seems is what happened to calm down the town. The same person told us that last time the violence was spontaneous, but now the violence is being planned and therefore could be much worse. The Kalenjins consider the area around Eldoret to be their homeland and everyone else is a "stranger" that can be sent back to their home of origin.

We went by Kakamega Friends Church and found that the 65 people who had fled to the church had left because school was beginning and there is a nursery school in the Church compound. We were told that not all of these refugees were Kikuyu. They had been given a small amount of funds to travel back to their place of origin, but most did not even know where they came from since they had lived in the area for generations.

We went to Kakamega today. I helped interview new candidates for an additional AVP position and Gladys went to town with Getry to buy relief supplies -- blankets, cooking oil, vaseline, tea, and sugar for the IDP's from Lumakanda who are now in Turbo. The funds for this were supplied by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). When we arrived in Turbo the police gave us a rough time. The head officer said that the food had to be inspected by the Health Department to make sure it was fit for human consumption. Two policewomen at the entrance asked Gladys why we were helping the Kikuyu when they were the cause of all the problems. So as Gladys talked with the police, I went and found the camp leaders who knew us well. One of the leaders and the clerk came and talked with the police, letting them know that we were their friends, etc. So we unloaded the goods and the clerk wrote down a list of what we delivered. It was late in the afternoon and they were pondering whether they could distribute the goods before night. I suggested that they at least give out the blankets since it would help keep people warm in the cold night (due to the cloudiness and rain two days ago). Of course, the goods were much appreciated.

One of the people we interviewed for the AVP position was a Luo from Nyanza province. He had many interesting stories. His brother is hiding two Kikuyu in his house. When youth blocked the road near his town, he got out of the matatu and talked with the youth and got them to remove the stones that were blocking the road.

All the matatus (and there were few of them) and trucks had green branches on the front and back. According to ODM, those who were going to their demonstrations (today is the first of three days of national demonstrations) should be carrying branches and not participate in any kind of violence. Those branches were a sign of support for ODM so that the matutu or truck would not be stopped by youth. When the matutu which we had hired to carry the goods pulled into the IDP camp questions came quickly about why they had the branches on them. The folks in the IDP camp clearly did not support ODM. The driver and conductor replied that they had to do this in order to move safely down the roads. Such is the ambiguity of the situation.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative/ Friends Peace Teams
Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya--phone 011 254 726 590 783
Office in US--1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104--phone 314/621-7262

Monday, January 14, 2008

Report 18 - Jan 14

January 14

Dear All,

I didn't really write an update yesterday because it was Sunday and I was resting (well, sort of resting). My "Hoodwinked" article seems to have drawn considerable attention and may get published.

When we went to church yesterday, we found about one hundred 200 pound bags of maize (corn) in the back. After church, I asked George, the owner, why they were there. He replied that he had a big farm on the other side of the road where the Kalenjin are the dominate ethnic group. He feels he is the next target. "When they finish with the Kikuyu, they will then come for me." He has moved out all his furniture and taken it to the homes of his relatives nearby. This is another small indication that the violence is not essentially political, but a chance to plunder and loot. Today I heard two reports of cows being stolen. In the past this rarely happened in Lumakanda.

This morning, Gladys (my wife), and I went to Turbo where the Lumakanda IDP's have been transferred. I had heard that Turbo had experienced a rough time during the violence; but it is another thing to actually see an entire block of shops burned out. Many other shops in the town were destroyed. Some were wooden and burned up completely. After viewing the destruction we climbed the hill to the police station and found our "refugees."

They were most happy to see us. "You have followed us here," was a common comment. The women, in particular, were very pleased and welcoming to Gladys who had been part of the contingent that had brought them the first allotment of food. The refugees have been placed in a just-harvested corn field so there isn't even any grass. For the first night(s) they were sleeping on the ground in the open. Now, men were building eucalyptus pole houses with plastic tops and sides. A few had found iron sheets (perhaps salvaged from their burnt shops or houses) which make a more substantial wall. The wind is blowing very hard, almost constantly, so the plastic tarps were flapping loudly. I would think this din would make it hard to sleep at night; I guess they will get used to it.

The people in the camp told us that they had not received anything since they arrived from Lumakanda two days befor . Not surprisingly, blankets were their first request. They had clearly enjoyed the rice we delivered previously. Predictably it had run out since there were only two 50 kilo (110 pound) bags. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has sent us a small grant for the Lumakanda IDP's. We hope to go to Eldoret tomorrow to buy more relief supplies; but then one never knows.

Parliament begins sessions tomorrow and both sides plan on sitting on the Government side of the building so this might lead to a crisis there. There are three days of demonstrations scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Desmond Tutu raised hopes which were dashed; John Kufour, the African Union president, raised hopes which were dashed. Now Kofi Annan is scheduled to arrive tomorrow along with a few other eminent Africans. People are not getting up their hopes again.

Human Rights Watch has issued a strong statement against the Kenyan Government for using excessive force ("shoot to kill" policy) during the crackdowns, restricting the media, and the illegal ban against demonstrations.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative/ Friends Peace Teams