A graffiti’ed wall tells the tale of a popular sentiment here in Nairobi: “No Raila. No Peace.” After an election that few people think was fair, and several tense and violent days, an uneasy peace has settled over the country. While things are slowly starting to get back to normal, everyone seems to be waiting for the other shoe to drop.
That shoe is probably going to be the rally that Raila Odinga is planning for Thursday. Although the government has declared the event “unlawful,” there are as yet no rumors to say that it will be cancelled. Despite the government ban on live media reports, we saw an clipon BBC where Raila went on TV saying the violence must stop but then followed up by saying that the only way that can happen is for Kibaki to step down.
Violence throughout the country seems to be ethnically charged, pitting Kikuyu against Luo in battles that have reportedly left hundreds dead. Although the riots seen on TV all weekend seemed to have tapered off for now, we asked our staff not to come to work for the next couple of days (they’ll still be paid, of course) since many people’s homes have been looted after being vacated.
Our driver SMS’ed us saying he and his family were OK, the violence in his area was still incredibly bad, and many people had been injured. Despite being a strong ODM (Odinga) supporter, I have worried about Rock since he is Kikuyu and could therefore be a target. Our housekeeper, V, said that she and her family were able to go out in the mornings before 10:00 a.m. to get food and other supplies but then returned and locked their door with a padlock to stay safe.
I have read reports that many shops and dukas are running out of everything from lentils to meat. Our guard called us this morning to tell us that shops at YaYa Centre were opening for the morning and still had food if needed to purchase supplies. Although Hubby will be going to work tomorrow, a siege mentality appears to be prevalent throughout Nairobi regardless of ethnic or economic status.
With neither side willing to give an inch, this uneasy peace feels tenuous at best. International observers are trying to negotiate between the two parties but neither side has been willing to budge. We can only hope that the dawning of a New Year will also bring the dawning of common sense for the two men who want to rule this beautiful country.