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 (dawn@aglifpt.org).

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- aglifpt.org, 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 (www.gallmannkenya.org). 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.