Sunday, January 06, 2008

Kenya Troubles -- A View From Likoni

I was trolling the 'Net looking for information on the 1997 Likoni riots (for my history project) when I stumbled across Andy's blog and here where these two folks had posted these letters from someone stuck in the troubles in Likoni. These personal accounts really bring home what the folks in Kenya were going through.


First things first, thank you all for your e mails, SMS's and phone calls. We really are very lucky to have such a good bunch of family & friends who care about us. Its greatly appreciated. Secondly, please excuse the rudeness of sending out a "Round Robin" news letter, but at this stage, that's all my brain can cope with. We're in a bit of a tizz here to say the least.

Yesterday was very bad for us as some of our watu (workers) were badly beaten and we are not sure of the whereabouts of two of them to date. There were horrific riots in Likoni Ukunda & Diani (all near us) but the worst being the hottest spot of Likoni. They burnt all the Kikuyu kiosks (little shops, for those who are not familiar with these Kenyan terms) & in turn the Kikuyus burnt the Luo's shops. Tyres were burnt in the roads & they looted & killed. We are not sure how many were killed.

The rioters then made their way down Shelly Beach road to Kwetu Beach Resort where a dear friend of ours, Freda (88 years of age and all alone, because she refused to move in with us. She's extremely independent & proud, which causes us a great deal of agro especially in times like this, as we worry dreadfully for her safety). They jumped her gate & she phoned us to say "flee whilst we had the time" thank the Lord they were pushed out by the locals on Freda's property saying that she was innocent, a mazungu (white) and had no quarrel with them, so they went to the Kikuyu place next-door to Freda's and took every last item from the resort & burnt it. They were on their way to us (500m down the road) when the GSU (our special riot army in Kenya) came and dispersed the 100 or so rioters. They flew into the bundu (bush) around us & others into the sea and caves.

At this point we had closed the house up, thrown our few legal docs, passports etc into the car together with the dogs and our staff. We couldn't catch the cats. I'm not sure how many of you guys have ever been in a situation like this & I pray that you will never ever have to. Its the most daunting experience and heart breaking as you drive away from all your memories, knowing that in few moments they will be burnt or looted & you too if you don't get out. Sounds dramatic, but it happens often in Africa. Our Guardian Angel was working over time, as the GSU managed to disperse the whole frenzied riot & came to Pungu Villas to guard us all.

We employ a good mix of tribes here in Pungu, so were fair game for the next "hit". At this point we were at our friend's house (also in Pungu Villas) & waiting for them whilst we made the next moves. We were told that the rioters were all around us in the quarry, on the roads etc., & so the next move would have been to go over the cliff into the caves below Pungu. A friend of ours had been through this in the 1997 Likoni Riots and had leather lengths as long as a rope that they used to escape down to the beach from their houses. So we were about to scale the cliffs & let them pillage, so long as we are untouched. We had all the watu (locals) from Pungu with us too & one other family. It was the most terrifying situation. Then we got a call from a mutual friend who lived down Shelly Beach road and who knows one of the top people in the GSU in our area, and he told us to stay put as all was being controlled. Its extremely difficult to be calm in a situation where you just want to stand on the cliff side & scream like Tarzan & just lose it!!!! You can't coz the kids and the watu are all terrified & look to you to be calm...

Its going to get worse as the Orange lot refuse to recognise Kibaki as the President & the President can't just back down either. ODM have arranged a march of a million people on Thursday, but rumour has it that that's been cancelled & that they are in "talks" together. Please God they come to a peaceful agreement because Kenya was doing SO well. All that progress up in smoke!!! We had a media black out yesterday as well as no electricity, & our generator has a leaking radiator... tell me things will get better??? They burnt a whole load of people seeking refuge in a church today, kids, women & children. Man's inhumanity to man!!! As I type I can hear the tear gas canisters being fired & gun shots (that's just started again). I'll be off now & see what the local
network of friends have to say about the blasts.

Could do with a good nights sleep really. Have eye bags that a plastic surgeon would pay me to remove!!!! There's always someone worse off than us, so we have to be thankful that we are okay & that the GSU are still with us (Bless them). Please God they look after Geoff tomorrow, because he has an auction to attend to. Surreal really, blowing each other up & we bid for the best price of tea !???

Take care. Stay safe. Pray for Kenya.

Your prayers & e mails are SOOOOO welcome. It was calmer yesterday but they are at it again full scale today because the huge demonstration of yesterday was cancelled and they said they march on Tuesday now they say its this afternoon in Nairobi. The Muslim community is joining in in Mombasa after 12h30 prayers.

Geoff's caught up in all this as he had to get to the office (in convoy, but the convoys gone now so he'll be alone coming back) to give
his staff money, help, water etc., and make the office area safe. He's in a Que to get me some petrol for the car & then said he'd come home. I HATE it when he does this, but he has a company to run & has to see to its safety & his staff as well. Please God he shifts his behind & gets home.

They predict the 1997 Likoni riots of ethnic cleansing will happen again now. It will not bypass us again as the whole of Pungu Villas come from upcountry. We have been promised one truck load of GSU (paramilatry Police) that will be on the dirt road leading to our home, but we are unprotected on the 3 other walls. We are in deep deep shit. Excuse my terms but its literally shit. We cannot get out as they've lit fires and are looting since the 28th. If we had any idea that it would be violent we would have got out, but the prior voting campaigning etc were really calm. We have packed the house into two rooms. Our house is makuti. The cats are in ready to be loaded into the boxes, dogs in, the staff packed & huddled waiting for the carnage. It really is very very bad & Geoff & I have been through hell in Africa, but nothing like this before.

We really are sitting ducks and dreadfully frightened as we have so many staff here & we have our children to think of & I cannot show them that we are panicking. So forgive me for pouring my fears out on you. In haste as I fear they'll turn the power off again & I can't
e mail without power.We will try & keep you informed but they could black out the media again.

Pray for Kenya & us wont you. Your Mum is safe in Kilulu. They've had no problems there at all. Thank God & I pray it continues. I'm sure it will.

Bye for now. Salaams as ever.


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