Wednesday, February 27, 2013

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.


Catharine Withenay said...

I really hope and pray that everything goes smoothly, and that you and your family are unaffected. Most of all I hope that there is no violence, even though some (many?) will be disappointed. I remember hunkering down for elections in Zambia, but it was nowhere near as bad as I feared.

Of course, an impromptu ski trip would give a new definition to 'snow days' from school!

theheadmastershandbag said...

It's quite hard to know what to think when you haven't lived through it before. All the differing advice (leave the country now OR have your bags packed ready to flee to Tanzania OR just make sure you've got plenty of water and don't worry) is confusing and, in the middle of the night, very disturbing!
As for the schools, I've yet to find an international school that DOESN'T have strategies in place. The teenager's school has everyone under the desks at the first alarm and proceeding silently to the sports hall when they hear the second alarm. The small one's school has classroom doors bolted and everyone under desks at the alarm or proceeding to the central 'safe house' at the siren.
My freezer is packed, I have plenty of water (and gin) and I'm going to breathe deeply and relax. 'This too shall pass.'

Anonymous said...

You are right, the UN types have collected their danger money and fled. Lets hope that they stay away and Kenya can get back to reasonable rents etc! I drove to the Village Market today and instead of the usual queues of red number plates, there was barely a handful - bliss!
I pray that the elections will be peaceful and without ballot rigging for the sake of the ordinary Kenyan people who just want to get on with their lives.

Maria said...

Hope you are all fine, how are things going on? I have heard anything in the news. Cheers from Spain