01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Preparing for a crisis 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Preparing for a crisis

Amid messages of peace and unity that are being widely broadcast in the newspapers and on the radio - on the ground, expats and many others are preparing themselves for the possibility another election crisis.  Some are leaving the country, ostensibly as a precaution (mainly the embassy and the UN lot) who have been 'security advised' into submission.

"where are we going for election violence week?" expat children ask their parents expectantly/innocently - hoping for an inpromtu ski holiday, or out-of-country safari at least.

Will there be protests, riots?  Everybody hopes not - but I heard yesterday that some schools have implemented panic strategies (much in the way that they might devise a fire-drill) which involve assembling at upper floor classrooms in a school building, shutting curtains and hiding under desks.

Thanks to the rather disconcerting daily updates from embassy and security circulars that are doing the rounds, and general gossip that whips up into hype - those who are intending to stay home, cannot help but find themselves buying quantities of UHT milk, generator fuel and enough food to fill the freezer, however, at no point during the last election crisis did I find myself unable to shop.  We basically stayed in our neighbourhoods (to avoid impromptu street demos) - we certainly didn't starve.

Many businesses view next week as a kind of hiatus where nothing will get done.  Monday 4th has been announced officially as a public holiday.  Children have been given the week off school which was earmarked as a sort of delayed half term - as an insurance against risking disruption should things go badly.  Meanwhile everyone watches and waits; fingers and toes crossed.  Nobody, but nobody - wants any trouble.

I believe that a run-off scenario is still likely - though everyone hopes for a clear winner in the first round.  Nobody fears the actual voting process, just as in 2007, Kenyans definitely intend to go out and vote peacefully - it's the aftermath that represents the unknown.  There is an uneasy acceptance of the fact that whatever happens, it is all beyond our control.

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