Kenya is now playing host to a team of high ranking African officials dubbed; ‘the peacemakers’ by an ever hopeful local press. Statesmen flew in from; Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Nigeria and of course the African Union chairman, John Kufour from Ghana. Thank goodness they have arrived.
However, there was a backwards step taken by the president yesterday, when Mwai Kibaki publicly announced his new Cabinet, having been advised by pressure groups that any appointments should wait until after peace talks had taken place with outside mediators.
It seems that with the players changing every day and more and more rumours of the re activation of various illegal political groups of thugs who have been the main proponents of violent crime, that the 2007 Election has opened a Pandora’s box. In addition, the damage that has already been done seems irrecoverable, with quarter of a million displaced Kenyans still not able to return to their former homes.
On a lighter note; The Daily Nation newspaper (article by Amina Kibirige) yesterday ran an amusing story of looters flocking to return stolen property to a timber merchant in Mombasa (there was even a photograph to go with it!). The owner of the business had given a seven day ultimatum for the thieves to return thousands of shillings worth of wood planks and said that if the goods were not returned he would; ‘invoke a special Islamic prayer’ known as 'halbadiri' in Kiswahili:
‘It is one of the most feared curses at the Coast as it is believed that it brings calamities to those it is directed at.’
The article quoted a man who named himself John Josh and was in the process of returning 20 planks of wood:
‘Despite the fact that I was turning myself into a laughing stock, I returned the planks that I had stolen for fear of what might befall me.’
‘What drove us to this point is a rumour that one man dropped dead as he carried away a stolen TV set from an electronic shop – why wait for such a fate to befall me yet there is a deadline I can beat?’ he said. Some even hired handcarts to return the loot.
A worker at the hardware said that word had spread fast:
‘They started coming in from Sunday at 11pm and have not stopped till now.’
Meanwhile our former night watchman told us today that prices of; charcoal, paraffin, carrots, green vegetables, oranges and soya beans had all doubled in Kibera slum since the election. The cost of water and maize flour had also gone up considerably. Lets hope that some of the Red Cross donations get fairly distributed so that everyone living in the slums gets a share.