We all woke up this morning feeling pretty sick with worry. For those with their eyes and ears open at the moment (ie not still on holiday), the incoming news seems to worsen every day and what started as a flawed election result has frighteningly quickly dissolved into countrywide conflict that is inextricably linked with tribalism. The media are beginning to use words like ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘genocide’ in their fears for the future of Kenya. New Year’s day was truly a black day for Kenyans.
As a British family living here in Nairobi, with a lot invested in the country, we are praying for a fast solution to this crisis. We are glad that overseas leaders have responded to Kenya’s pleas to come and help mediate between proud politicians who are under enormous political pressure to stick to their guns. Let us hope that the terrible death toll and murder of women and children in a church in Eldoret will shock Kibaki and Raila into starting dialogue. The local radio stations are asking: ‘Where are our great leaders now? Why are they keeping so quiet? Why are they not reassuring us of a resolution or visiting the troubled areas? We Kenyans only want peace’
This morning I was reading comments made on the Telegraph newspaper’s online ‘speakers’ corner’: ‘What should Britain do about the crisis in Kenya?’ There were some fairly unhelpful comments such as:
‘What can Britain “do” about Kenya? Who cares? I’m sick to death of whining Africa. Kenya has been independent since 1964 for God’s sake. About 45 years. And has had billions of pounds of British taxpayers money in “aid” during that time, that would be better spent at home for the benefit of those taxpayers.’ (Posted by Verity on January 2nd.)
I can understand that Britain has its own domestic problems and it may feel galling to watch money siphoning off to Africa but Kenya is by no means a pariah. Last year the country needed only 10% of overseas aid money to balance its annual budget and watching the fast economic growth, it was predicted that the country would be economically self sufficient in 2008 (in spite of machinations and corruption in government).
Britain has a large number of business interests here and cannot afford to stand back and watch the place go up in flames. In the past five years in Kenya we have seen an explosion in the middle class sector of home and car owners. The majority of people in towns can now afford mobile phones and tvs.
The problem with the 27th December election was that those politicians involved underestimated the intelligence of the people in interfering with election tallying. Poorer Kenyans are showing force in their support of Raila alongside others who feel the Kibaki Government it too Kikuyu heavy and feel it’s time that their tribes were more fairly represented in the running of the country.
The city slums have been growing fast as the economy has thrived and increasing numbers move to major towns and cities to seek an income, but after empty promises their basic needs have not been addressed by Kibaki (or indeed Moi’s) Government and now they are angry having been cheated of their fair and democratic election. Having voted for change the young men (Swahili ‘vijana’) have felt compelled to fight for change.