01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Dust and politics 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Dust and politics

When you drive out of Nairobi it's just dust in every direction. This is typical of the dry season in Kenya and fortunately weather experts are speculating that rain will come next month - a little earlier than usual.

We went to Naivasha at the weekend (school half term) and had to take on the dreaded/infamous North Lake road. The red dust is so fine that it's like flour. It gets everywhere. Dropping down into the Rift Valley you could only see beige dust clouds engulfing the landscape because of strong winds. It can look pretty bleak. Between the odd green irrigated field here and there next to the lake, dust devils are rising and everything and everyone is coated in a find layer of powdery talc.

A friend was camping in Nakuru a little further on the same weekend and she said that her daughter could not sleep because of the dust - she's allergic to it.


Meanwhile, in slightly greener Nairobi, MPs have finally put paid to the suggestion of holding a local tribunal to try those powerful people named in the Waki Report for initiating post election violence. The house was split for and against but those for could not get a majority. Kibaki and Raila did as much as they could to push the thing threw, cajoling their colleagues but they were met with resistance.

Those against the local tribunal felt strongly that some politicians were already trying to 'water it down' as they attempted to remove clauses such as the one that said 'politicians under suspicion must step down'. Some MPs wanted to change that to say 'politicians may stay in office until they are proved guilty', plus they wanted something in it to exonerate those who were acting under orders of their superiors.

To me it all seems like a triumph, but no one seems 100% sure of what will happen next. The Hague may be the only option, though it could be many years until the perpetrators are tried there and this may mean that the situation may still be the same when the 2012 Kenya election takes place - which would mess things up and muddy the waters a bit. Yesterday newspapers speculated that an outside UN team could come in and manage the trial here as a third option. We will have to wait and see.

It seems there are many who would like to restore the reputation of the coalition government and finally take a stand against those involved in corruption scandals. Many (ie Martha Karua et al) have directly attacked William Ruto for his involvement in the maize scandal - we will see this week if he survives or is out.

I think I have become addicted to Kenyan politics. I had withdrawal symptoms this weekend when I couldn't find a newspaper to buy. I often chat about politics with Florence who works in our house - she seems to have the inside track on everything and is always several steps ahead of me. When I thought about why politics might be such a popular subject with Kenyans I came to the conclusion that it might be because the big C of 'celebrity' is utterly missing here. No one is really interested in Big Brother and there is only a handful of local pop stars. There is tv but not tv obsession. The politicians are the celebrities here with their huge motorcades and the soap opera is played out by the way they behave.

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