1. It’s raining a lot in Kenya. When considering whether to get out of the car at the dentist yesterday and doing battle with a persistent trickle that was coming in through the sunroof, a smiling faced askari (watchman) appeared at my door with an umbrella and proceed to escort me and the 2 children to the door of the surgery. It was raining cats and dogs, we got covered in mud over the space 20 metres in a paved car park and I was tutting – but the askari, whose job it is to stand in the rain all day, was not miserable but all smiles.
‘Rain is good! People can grow food, we are so lucky to have this wonderful rain! It will continue all day’ he said, ecstatic.
It’s funny not to consider rain a nuisance like we do in the UK. Here so many people are happy to put up with the inconvenience – i.e. nowhere dry to walk, flooded roads, mud everywhere, fallen trees, delays. I get the impression that this might be because so many Nairobites have strong links to their ‘up-country’ homes. Rain means that the extended family will prosper when crops flourish, thus alleviating pressure on the townies to provide.
It also means that Kenya is back on hydroelectric power, so our bills will come down a bit.
2. The new harmonized draft constitution has miraculously been passed by Government, in spite of various factions putting up resistance and making a fuss at the time. After much deliberation, even the church has decided not to fight it (there was a sticky issue on abortion). The fact that the President and Prime Minister are working hard to appear united and behind the proposed constitution in advance of the Referendum is a good, positive thing. The ‘oranges and bananas’ referendum in 2005 was a fiasco – becoming a mini election campaign of its own. Only MP William Ruto is trying to politicise the whole draft constitution debate and he’s inciting the public to vote ‘no’, but at the same time he is noticeably floundering in his search for political support and finding himself increasingly out in the cold.
3. I gather that Obama’s doing pretty well in the States, pushing through his healthcare bill and giving the Israeli president short shrift, generally showing his political mettle of late. This is always a good thing, after all, he is a major Kenyan role model.
4. Moreno Ocampo is pushing ahead with his investigations into who were the perpetrators of the 2007 post election violence. It has been locally reported that the violence was organised on a grand and shockingly brutal way. PNU apparently hired Administration Police officers to stuff ballot papers in Raila Odinga's strongholds and many of them were subsequently murdered.
http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000007455&cid=4&story=How plan to hire APs was reached
So, Ocampo submitted to his Hague superiors 20 names of Kenyan politicians and business people who were suspected of being the instigators and got permission to go ahead and investigate. There has been a witness protection scheme organised and rumour has it that some key witnesses have got new identities, while others have been flown out of Kenya to make sure they are safe ahead of the trial.
MPs say they are worried that Ocampo beginning investigations now may destabilise the smooth running of the referendum to pass the new constitution - but from the public’s point of view, there couldn’t be any better time to see justice done - they just can't wait to know the names! Ocampo is due in town next month.
By the time the widely dreaded 2012 election comes around, there is a good chance that the political picture could be very different. Who knows, it may not be the bloodbath that cynics predict. I am ever the optimist!
p.s. - sorry to anyone caught up in the ash cloud drama!