I often see the Vice President’s motorcade passing as I am heading out on the school run in the morning. This comprises of a police car with blue flashing light filled with ‘tooled up’ special police with AK47s, then the VP’s Mercedes with small Kenya flag flying and the man himself (Kalonzo) flicking through the morning papers in the back behind smoked windows, followed by a third vehicle filled with as many plain clothes body guards dressed in dark suits as you can cram into a small saloon car. Sometimes they are hanging out of the windows. I assume that the escort for the President and Prime Minister are equally large if not larger. I think they get to ride in a shiny new four wheel drive Toyota VX or Lexus.
Apparently, when the President went to the Karen club to make a short speech at the end of the Kenya Open golf championship in March, one hundred and sixteen people of the ‘President’s men’ were mobilised to make this possible. There were twenty guys to lay out red carpets, scores of body guards, police, you name it, each one indispensable no doubt!: ‘And at then end they all wanted a free meal and a soda too’ – my insider source said. This number does not even include the hundreds of traffic police lining the roads to ensure the way was clear for the VIP. I wonder, does Gordon Brown need 116 aides to accompany him whenever he goes off to make a speech?
Whilst Kenya now has a very important President, Prime Minister and Vice President (in that order) who are bickering and bitching over privileges and power divisions; the rest of the country is a little down at heel. Stocks in the shop are looking low, the price of food has sky rocketed, the Mombasa port is clogged with a backlog of containers waiting to be cleared, shop keepers, tourism and safari companies are barely scraping by and struggling to pay their rents, all as a knock on affect from the disastrous Dec 2007 election. This week, the 150,000 odd Internally Displaced Kenyans (IDP’s) are finally being returned home in what is called ‘Operation Rudi Nyumbani’…. And at gun point no less! I read that the guns are for the protection of the IDP’s on arrival back home who are understandably fearful of facing their formerly machete wielding, murderous neighbours of differing tribes. They are reluctant to go back to the scene of crimes committed but there seems no other solution, problems of ‘fake’ IDP’s who have been sneaking into the camps at dawn, collecting daily rations, loafing about then returning home at night, has been rife. Now the thousands of plastic tents just have to go and it is still unclear whether any displaced Kenyans will receive Government compensation for their losses.