4 weeks ago, the elections in Kenya went sour, and people were, justifiably, it seemed, angry with the seemingly obvious fact that the elections were rigged. I mean, 115% turnout in even one precinct is sufficient to call foul.
If, at that moment, the leading candidates had stepped forward, together, and said, something’s not right here, we’re going to get to the bottom of it, stay calm until we can get everything sorted out – if they could have just done that, postponed the anger for a day or so, gotten things worked out, perhaps we could have avoided this.
As it is, it took them more than 3 weeks even to talk to one another, and by that time, more than 700 people had been brutally killed. Now, things are escalating more each day. Rumor is that there’s a convoy of buses and trucks going from village to village, burning, killing, raping, anyone who appears to be from the “wrong” ethnic origin. Families that have lived next door for years are now bitter enemies, willing to kill each other with machetes, arrows, knives, rocks, whatever they have handy.
The optimism I had in the first days that things could be fixed, the problems could be resolved, there could be peace and reconciliation – I’m afraid that’s all gone now. With each passing day, the chance that things can get back to the way they once were gets slimmer and slimmer. The damage to the economy is devastating. Tourists won’t come back for years. The hotels that have already closed will discourage others from opening. Shipping companies are avoiding Mombasa, because it’s not safe. Nairobi has always been a hub of commerce for the surrounding nations, and folks are starting to look for somewhere else to go through.
And the violence is getting more and more organized. Weapons are being distributed. Strategy meetings are being held, and more and more people are being killed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kibaki, the so-called president, continues to insist that there isn’t in fact any problem, and that it will all be just peachy if the opposition takes their complaints to court and lets the (Kibaki-appointed) judges decide what needs to happen next.
Where will it end?