Early reports of a rally today turned out to be premature as most people, sick of the violence and uncertainty, stayed home. The rally was officially declared “cancelled” around noon but by then life had turned to a degree of normalcy not seen here since before the new year with some shops and restaurants open for business and matatus speeding down the roadways.
But life beneath the surface of these calm waters is far different. Yesterday’s aborted rally, which resulted in the police shooting water cannons and tear-gassing people, has left its mark. Some of the roadside vendors near the YaYa Centre had clearly been attacked and glass was still strewn all over the street when we passed by this afternoon. Their owners were righting the makeshift shops but it was clear that the area had been at the centre of some sort of mêlée.
While many dukas were open, locals complained that there isn’t much left to buy. The scene at Nakkumatt was much the same as earlier in the week with people buying supplies to last weeks rather than days. Many people in those long lines, however, were trying to do what they could to help the situation by dropping off staples like flour, maize, and blankets to be distributed to those most in need.
Listening to people talking, one thing has become clear: people don’t want more demonstrations and violence. They blame Kibaki and Odinga equally for failing to stop the hostilities that have already killed hundreds of Kenyans. The politicians, they say, haven’t visited areas like Kibera and Eldoret where people have died as a result of the elections. The politicians, they say, care only about who will be president with little thought to the people that supported them along the way. Thousands of people throughout Kenya who are currently homeless and calling themselves “refugees in their own country” are wondering where their leaders are and when they will be able to return to the lives they once knew.
Despite an earlier quote from a government spokesman who said, “You don’t share power with losers,” Desmond Tutu has come forward with news that Kibaki has agreed to a possible coalition government with his opponent Raila Odinga. The ODM leader, on the other hand, has been calling for a rerun of the elections. The final option is to turn to the courts. ODM spokesman, William Ruto, voiced the opinion that many people have regarding this subject: "It would be like taking sheep to a court presided over by a hyena."
While politicians are busy behaving like children fighting over a favourite toy, the people of Kenya are trying to return to business as usual. Our staff will hopefully return to work on Monday as will Hubby. Meetings for the Association are being planned and most people have sent tentative replies saying that they will attend. And business owners are restocking their shelves and opening their doors. But all of these plans rely heavily upon the actions and decisions of two men who seem to care little about anything else other than what is slowly becoming an empty title.