Today was supposed to be an ordinary, back to normal day in Nairobi. We had Christmas, then Boxing Day, then Election Day, then another holiday day for people to get back to where they work after casting their votes at home. Today, Saturday 29th was supposed to back to work as usual, but it hasn’t happened and it threw us all a bit.
Driving to the shops this morning was an eerie experience. No matatus (buses) were running. The normally bustling roads were devoid of traffic, roadside shops and businesses remained closed, instead there were groups of people, standing about idle, the odd person listening to small portable radios, all waiting to hear the final outcome of the election. It’s the second day of waiting and resulting from all the hanging around demonstrations and troubles are beginning on the streets of Kenya today.
After arriving at the shopping centre and having run a couple of errands, I noticed that the security people were closing the car park gates due to a ruckus outside. A scruffy looking white lady was standing on top of a mini van at the edge of the car park with tv camera trained over the fence and at the demonstrators. I asked one of the shopkeepers who had wandered outside to watch, what was going on: ‘It’s a riot, don’t leave now unless you want your car to be burned.’
Hmm. Someone else told me that I should be OK if I left via the back exit and took a circuitous route home. Heart in mouth, I raced back to our house watching out for explosions of violence on the roadside. In Kericho bonfires have been lit on the street. Demonstrations are taking place in Nairobi city centre and Mombasa. There have been reports of violence in Eldoret. Everyone feels that they turned out to vote two days ago, and now they want to see a result. The process has been highly emotive for so many would like to see changes in Government. Tally delays are sparking doubts over whether the process is being conducted fairly. Outbreaks of violence are occurring in the Nairobi slums.
We’ve been watching the news for hours and are now all bouncing off the walls feeling like we’re under house arrest as we’re not sure what is going on outside as Kenyans become more frustrated with waiting. I hope the election result is announced soon and that it’s possible for people to settle back into their normal routines soon.