Saturday, January 12, 2008

Report 15 - Jan 11

January 11

Dear All,

The major news of the day is that the internally placed people at Lumakanda School were being moved today to the IDP camp at Turbo. There are already 15,000 to 20,000 people there at two sites. The Lumakanda folks will be there together at the Turbo police station. I'll be able to visit them there, but this will be difficult: it is at least 5 miles down the road from us. So I'll have to walk to the junction at the main road and take a matutu to Turbo and back. Now there won't be two times a day visits. The school classrooms, as expected, are extremely dirty and I hope that someone will clean them up before school opens on Monday.

The biggest breakthrough for us today is that we (rather Gladys) has made personal contact with the Kikuyu side. Gladys's best friend over the years is Jacinta Latki who is a Kikuyu married to a Swede: they live in Sweden. Gladys worked for her brother, a member of the Kenyan foreign service, for twelve years including 3 in Pakistan and 2 in Zambia. Last September we visited Jacinta in Nakuru where she grew up (I think) and where she has started an orphanage for 40 children and a school for 110 children on the ten acres of her parent's plot: Phyllis Wambui Children's Home. Jacinta phoned Gladys today and told us the following: She was coming from Sweden to Kenya over the New Year's and when she reached Germany, everyone was in a panic and would not let her continue on to Kenya. I think she stayed at least a week in Germany. Last night she arrived and is now camping out with her orphans at the Nakuru fairgrounds which is serving as an IDP camp there. The orphans are of various tribes including two Kalenjin girls whom she was protecting from female circumcision. So now we have personal contact with the Kikuyu in an IDP camp. We will get more reports from her as time goes on.

In November of last year, I lent my son-in-law, Job, (Beverly's husband) the funds to buy a motorcycle so that he could go into the motor cycle taxi business. By now I know a lot about the motorcycle taxi business which in calmer times I might describe. There are 58 motorcycles and 67 motorcycle drivers and he has been elected chair of the motorcycle taxi drivers association in Lumakanda. He said that all the motorcycle taxi drivers stayed out of the violence, partly because they were charging double for rides and thus making a good income. Also the winning MP from this area, Cyrus Jirongo, had met with the drivers and told them not to participate in any tribal violence due to the election. According to Job, most of the bicycle taxi drivers also stayed out of the looting, but of course in terms of class, a motorcycle taxi driver is far above a bicycle taxi driver.

He told me that during the days of no transportation he would sometimes drive people to Webuye about 25 miles to the west of Lumakanda. Job said that he would be stopped at Kipkarren River (and perhaps elsewhere) and asked to show his ID and say something in his native language to indicate that he was not a Kikuyu. He started wearing his orange ODM hat to show where his loyalties were.

I told him that I wanted to meet with those who had done the looting in the area. While Job said that the motorcycle drivers did not participate, he thought they would welcome a meeting. Some of the bicycle taxi drivers would also come. He said that most of the looting had been done by the "idlers" who had nothing to do. So while I may not be meeting with the actual perpetrators, I will be close. I will ask the Lumakanda Friends Church for space, ask Malesi, Getry, and Janet for one or more of them to help, and set a time, probably next Tuesday or Wednesday.

According to my stepson, Douglas, who lives in Nairobi, there is "Lots of tension. Things aren't good at all, though guys are going on with routine work. We expect things to worsen next week."

Parliament is supposed to open on Tuesday and the hundred plus MP's on the ODM side (out of a total of 207) will demand to sit on the government side and not the opposition side. Kibaki's party, PNU, plus allied parties, will have only 57 MP's (one of the clear indications that ODM rather than PNU actually won the election). This will probably lead to a battle. Then on Wednesday through Friday, ODM has asked for rallies in fifteen towns in the country including Kakamega. These will be banned by the government and violence is very likely to ensue as the police attack demonstrators with tear gas, water cannons, and shooting in the air.

This is already a long enough report today, but as things have calmed down (at least temporarily), I have begun to see major criticisms by Kenyans as to the international reporting on the events.

I have received enough emails to realize that even some of you have been "hood-winked." So expect my analysis of this soon.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative/ Friends Peace

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