Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Kenya Troubles -- A View From Kibera

Africa Expat Wife is a "35 year old housewife who does no housework" based in Nairobi, she has written the story of her former askari

Thursday, January 03, 2008 Our ex night watchman in Kibera slum

We spoke to our ex night watchman on the phone today. He lives in Kibera slum and we have been informally sponsoring him for a couple of years. Having lost all his belongings in the crisis (see previous post), he has been stuck inside his home for some days. A neighbor has lent him a mattress and they have enough flour for only one more meal tonight.

He fears going out of his home, as all Kibera residents are being challenged over which tribe they belong to by the agitated mob. He does not want to get involved in any violence, so has been too afraid to venture out for the last four days.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008 Our ex-askari paid us a visit from Kibera today

Our ex–night watchman who lives in Kibera slum, managed to get out for long enough to come and see us at home today. He described the situation there in plain terms and it still seems to be a hell of a mess (unsurprisingly).

His house was looted when he went out looking for food and his children were alone in the house. They stood aside whilst looters took everything they could carry: clothes, shoes, mattresses, sheets, food, cups, plates, saucepans, flasks and a paraffin stove.

He said that the victims of violent attacks in Kibera since the election were made up of four tribes; Nubian, Meru, Kikuyu and Kamba. Their businesses and houses have been burned, many have been raped (two of his Kikuyu neighbors were raped and are now in a Women’s hospital, but men have been raped too). There are now no kiosks left to sell food in Kibera and each time our friend ventured out of the slum for supplies, he was turned back by police who blocked anyone from leaving Kibera on the assumption that they were on their way to one or other of the ODM rallies supposed to take place in the town center.

Many areas where there were once kiosks have been decimated; ‘now there are parts of Kibera that just look like a field, there's nothing.’ The second hand market called ‘Toi Market’ on the outskirts of Kibera (where I have shopped for mitumba clothes many times), has also been burned to the ground.

I asked about the Red Cross food donations and he said that he has seen a Red Cross truck delivering supplies twice, once today and once yesterday. ‘The problem is that people crush around the vehicle, even before it has stopped, preventing anything from being distributed fairly. The Luos get first pick.’

I asked how old the violent protesters in the slum were and he replied; ‘They are very young boys, all boys, most of them between 15 and 23 years old. I can’t understand them; it is as if they have gone mad and they don’t understand that the people they are fighting for are comfortable and not at risk. I don’t know why they are doing this; they have spoiled Kibera for everyone.’

We gave him a mattress, plates, cups, mugs, thermos flasks and money but he explained: ‘I cannot bring too much into Kibera at once. If I carry two mattresses and lots of bags then people will believe I have been given them by the Government, and I will be attacked.’

He squirreled the cups etc. into a small backpack and made an arrangement to pick up a second mattress and some clothes from my husband’s office tomorrow. He said he thanks God that his family are all safe and as i gave him a lift back to near the slum he added; ‘Many people won’t help us at home, or even give us a shilling because they know we are HIV positive and they think we will just die soon. They don’t understand that we have already been living with this illness for 15 years and then you think of all those who died in the violence last week, who had probably had no HIV and were not expecting to die? You never know what is going to happen but we pray for ourselves and our future.’

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