Just as people in Kenya come to terms with one tragedy, another takes place within days. President MwaiKibaki has announced a week of official mourning.
On saturday night a crashed oil tanker exploded in Molo, 33 kms from Nakuru town - this may not have been a major tragedy in itself if if weren't for the hundreds of Kenyans (including women and children) who flocked to the crash site to siphon off fuel. A desperate situation. It is difficult to picture the scene - hundreds of people with small containers crawling all over a crashed lorry in amongst spilled fuel and fumes. Police were among the 115 people killed as well as two motorists who died in their car having stopped to look at the spectacle. The sunday nation reported: 'the fire was started when one of the victims lit a match' It beggars belief. 178 are in hospital being treated for burns. This morning doctors are urgently appealing for blood donations.
In addition, reports from the supermarket fire persist in saying that fire escapes were locked when the fire broke out to prevent looting, thus trapping shoppers inside. So far 26 bodies have been recovered from the gutted building and 8 identified.#
'10 million Kenyans face starvation'. It's an uncomfortable truth that springs to mind as one is cruising the supermarket in the suburbs buying chicken legs and mince. Donation boxes are placed outside shops for food and bags of maize. Kiss FM have re launched their 'caravan of hope' appeal for donations, which proved to be a resounding success during the period of post election trouble last year where Kenyans gave generously.
Foreign donors say they will help with the food crisis, but even they are hesitating to give to the Kenyan Government who are still embarrassingly embroiled in the 'maize scandal' that implicated MPs among others for forming a cartel buying up grain supplies then greedily selling back to millers or to Sudan at an inflated price. I guess that giving to those who are known to steal from their countrymen kind of sticks in the throat for some.
RailaOdinga (Kenya's PM) said he met Gordon Brown at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last week and appealed for help. His appeal has been passed on for consideration but goodness knows that GB has his own problems. Raila also wrote a page long defence of himself and his political actions on page 10 of the Sunday Standard under the heading; 'I have not abandoned my ideals.' I didn't manage to read the whole thing through.
Waki Report Last week I was ready to celebrate the fact that those named in the Waki Report for instigating post election violence might be shipped off to answer to their crimes at The Hague, as KofiAnnan's deadline for setting up a local tribunal had passed. However, I now learn that the situation is not straight forward and the deadline may be extended. Raila also had a word in KofiAnnan's ear in Switzerland on the old Waki subject, making his trip to the World Economic Forum a pretty tactical one all in all.
The good news is that apparently several Kenyan MPs have taken a stand to oppose setting up a local tribunal, as they believe that trying the high ranking guilty parties in Kenya will probably mean that they will ultimately wriggle out of facing charges and the Kenyan 'culture of impunity' will continue.
KofiAnnan is expected at a conference in Nairobi this week called 'The Kenya we want'. Watch this space. Meanwhile the statement by a Sunday Standard newspaper commentator Ahmednasir Abdualahi spoke volumes; 'Every rich Kenyan's wealth can be traced to a political connection, a looting of a parastatal or a looting of a ministry.'