Tuesday, February 05, 2008

UPR Part 5 C

Dear Friends and Family

Our bit of excitement for today was that a German TV crew contacted us (via a friend) they wanted to speak to ***** and later interviewed ***** at length. I think that ******* enjoyed giving them a clearer picture of what has been going on here! They met them down at ******* where another large group of 'displaced people' have taken refuge. I think that ****** mentioned yesterday that these people as well as those in ***** have been told to move on. ****** saw a number of trucks and buses starting to arrive and take people back to their home towns, mostly in Western Kenya.

One of the things that worried me when all of this started just after the election was some of the emotive language that the media and politicians used – words like 'genocide', 'ethnic cleansing'. It worried me because I thought that if they spoke those words it might really happen. Now I find that I am going to use this emotive language because it has become a reality here. We've heard that in ********, the (a tribe) and other tribes pushed out the (a tribe). Only a handful of (a tribe) remain, camped out at the police station, and they were the ones that were too poor find the bus fare to leave. Now they are effectively trapped, as the police no longer provide armed escorts. Without it would be just too dangerous for the (a tribe) to leave. To they are stuck with nowhere to go.

Now, ******* is also being ethnically cleansed – here it is the reverse, this time the (a tribe) are being pushed out and the (a tribe) are taking over the town. I never really understood what ethnic cleansing meant and now I wish that I didn't know what it meant. It is truly horrific, one group of people deciding they don't want another around and using fear and violence as weapons to make sure they don't hang around. The pain and anguish that is caused as a result is completely terrible.

We went into town today. Now the main language spoken is ******. In the market, it was the (a tribe) who were the only ones selling things there. I must admit that I felt physically sick at the thought that here was this group of people, seemingly continuing to thrive while not half a mile away in ******** their Kenyan brothers and sisters were struggling to find food to eat. What will now become of this country? How will people ever trust each other again?
Good night and God bless.

Dear Friends and Family

I'm going to do the first part of this email and maybe ****** can finish it. He has gone out again with ******** to the prison and police station to help some people arrange transport away from ******** so no doubt he'll have some things to say when he gets back.

We had our little church group this morning. We had no idea how many people would turn up but we ended up with quite a large group. Our guests joined us and our ****** friends brought along a couple of their (a tribe) workers. These (a tribe) were from a family that had left their homes in Western Kenya to the relative safety of *******. As I looked around the group, I thought that we had formed a sort of symbol what the church should be, different tribes and races meeting and worshipping together. I'm quite certain that we were the only church in ******** where ***** were still worshipping with ******. Here as you know, it is all the ******* who have taken refuge in the ***** and ****** and are now desperately trying to leave town. At the end of the service I felt strongly that we should all stand, hold hands and say the grace together as a symbol of unity. It was very moving.

Some white friends in town shared with us some worrying experiences they had yesterday. A couple ….. were in the market (where you now hear little other than Kikuyu being spoken) when a man came up to the woman and reprimanded her for wearing trousers. We have noticed for a few days now as we drive around town that all the women are now wearing skirts and many of them headscarves. This I'm afraid is the influence of the Mungiki and another confirmation (as if we needed any) that they are in town. But we never thought that the white community would be expected to live by these rules. There are a few women in town who did dare to wear trousers at the beginning. The outcome? They were grabbed and stripped naked. Now that is better than wearing trousers? Another example of the contorted logic is that the Mungiki believe it is wrong to steal. That's why they remove all the property from the (a tribe) houses and burn it. So they're okay. They didn't steal.

While this couple was at the market, someone came up to them and said, "We don't want you British here. Go!" These things are for me a sinister turn of events – after the tyranny follows the oppression. If this kind of malignant influence is not stopped soon, who knows where it might lead.

I'm struggling quite a bit today. Perhaps it is the aftermath of the adrenaline rush we've had over the past week. I'm feeling very low and have no motivation to do anything. I hope it passes soon. I thank God though for my kids who provide moments of humour that make me smile. I was putting ****** to bed for a nap and he didn't want to sleep. He kept thumping around in his room. So I went in and told him firmly to go to sleep. 'Why do you always hear me Mummy? He said. 'You hear everything like Jesus hears everything.' He was clearly irritated by my apparent superhuman powers of figuring out when he is misbehaving! It was very funny.

Once all our guests have gone I think we will need to take a break from the daily trips to ******* and ******** and just spend some time away for a day just to recharge our batteries. We are feeling exhausted! But we're also grateful that we no longer hear the sound of gunshots. That, at least, is one blessing.

Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers.



Anonymous said...

Soul Pastor.

Wow. I haven't read your blog for a month or so. Much has happened.


Well, this past Sunday, I was running a little late making coffee for the Quaker meeting (it was my job that particular Sunday, and I might add, one of the more important jobs in a Quaker meeting because Quakers seem to be more addicted to coffee than most).

I ran up to the service about five minutes late. Within minutes, a message poured out of me and I found myself sobbing a long story to the whole congregation.

The story was about two friends I met in college. One was born Eritrea. One was born in Ethiopia. They spent their entire lives growing up on opposite sides of the 30-year Eritrean/Ethiopian war.

When they entered college, an ignorant administrator saw that they came from the same area and put them together as room mates. It was the best thing that could have happened to either of them.

Sami stayed up nights listening to Emmanuel cry in his sleep (Emmanuel had witnessed his father, mother and two older sisters being murdered by the Ethiopian troops). Emmanuel listened as Sami talked of his father's suicide. (Sami's father had been a general in the Ethiopian army).

I once asked them how they could be the closest of friends. Sami told me, "How couldn't we? We both suffered through one of the worst wars in history and lost those that we love. The fact that we were on opposite sides is inconsequential."

Another time, I said to Emmanuel, "Well, you must be happy that Eritrea won their independence." He told me, "there are no winners in war. Only those who suffer and those who suffer more."

Oddly, when the service ended, I found that the Kenyan Quaker meetings had sent a delegate from Kenya to visit our meeting that day. He was sitting two rows behind me and I never noticed him when I came in.


Misty B said...

As I have read these letters at first I wondered what to pray besides a generic "God please help these people, please protect them, please give wisdom to the leaders..." all good things but I find that God will often give me insight on what exactly He wants me to pray for.

Thinking about it in the car I realized one thing more than any other has stuck out to me. The writer had been measuring the quality of their days and nights by the amount and proximity of gunfire. I can't imagine living a few hours like that never mind days on end. So my prayer for them is that God will protect them yes but also that God will restore them to a place where they are not living each moment with one ear tuned for gunfire.