We want to give you all an update on the situation here in Kenya, as we know it isn’t getting a lot of press in the US and what you are hearing may alarm you. First, we are sitting in our (new) house, not having left our front gate for three days and wondering when we will be able to leave. We are completely fine – we have supplies, food, water, etc. to keep us for a while. We were prepared and expecting there to be an unstable situation for a few days after the election. So, please, do not be concerned that we are in any danger because we are not. AIM has kept us very informed and has required us to stay at home until the situation stabilizes and we feel completely comfortable with their leadership and experience in this kind of situation.
Here is a run-down of what has occurred in the past week: The election was held last Thursday. There are many parties here in Kenya, and the election process is very different than what we are used to. Many people follow a party based on tribal lines, even though this is a “metropolitan” city. Therefore the tribal animosities arise during election time especially. The two main candidates were Kibaki (who was already president) and Raila. In the first couple of days after the election, it looked as if Raila was winning. Many people wanted him to win with the hope that life might get better for them than it has been under Kibaki. There is a general mistrust of the government and here – as corruption has always been a reality in this country.
On Saturday, they spent hours reading election results live on TV, only to tell us that not all of the results were in yet. There is an electoral commission here that is supposedly not influenced by the government. This is who has been running the process. Raila was still in the lead on Saturday, though it was a very small lead. His supporters became violent in places across the country because they believed that it was taking so long because Kibaki’s people were rigging the election. The violence was directed towards those of a specific tribe (Kibaki’s: Kikuyu) – their homes and businesses.
Come Sunday morning, everyone was glued to the TV (or radio) thinking that they were finally going to announce it. People waited all day long, growing very impatient as they are very passionate about the elections. We had the TV on all day, too, and absolutely nothing was progressing.
Finally, late in the day, a bizarre string of events occurred. First, Raila gave a statement that the election was being rigged and there should be a recount. Then the electoral commission was about to give the results and people in the press room were getting fired up about it. The chairman of the commission left the room, the power went out, and then they evacuated all of the press from the building. Then we find out that the commission told one of the TV networks privately that Kibaki had won by about 200,000 votes (out of 7 million!) and that network then announced it over the news. Then, Kibaki was sworn in within the hour in a very “British” ceremony and it was supposedly all over!
Of course, the Raila supporters are not happy about this. Not happy in the least! Kibaki, in an effort to keep violence under control, banned all live media broadcasts. That has been the weirdest part of the whole thing, as we have been “in the dark” ever since the announcement. We have told you before about Kibera slums, which is about a mile from our house. This is where much of the violence is happening, as we have been reading on the internet – but we have no way of knowing what is really happening since the news hasn’t been covering it.
To calm any of your worries, though, the violence is pretty localized in the slums and our neighborhood is actually very quiet. We are also not on any major roads, so that also keeps us from “centers” of activity. We can’t hear much of anything, which we would have been able to if it were anywhere close. You can read about it on the internet, but please remember that the pictures you see there don’t represent our neighborhoods.
We personally weren’t rooting for either candidate. And now, after all of this, we see problems on both sides. We also don’t personally know Kenyans from either tribe, though we know Kenyans who were voting for these candidates. We do know some people who live in Kibera and we are concerned for them and their safety. We also have friends whose ministries are in Kibera and we are certain that this whole situation is very distressing to them. If you want to see some of the footage that Andy took in Kibera a couple of months ago, you can see some of it in the Psalm 40 video we have posted here on the website.
So our request to you now is that you pray for Kenya, that peace will prevail and people will not resort to violence to express their frustrations. Please pray that officials will deal with the situation with wisdom, honesty, and integrity. Please also pray for AIM to receive correct information as the organization makes decisions for us. Please pray the safety of all missionaries and that we would be able to promote peace amongst our Kenyan friends and colleagues. Personally, we pray for wisdom as we try to make the right decision about our vacation which we were supposed to leave for tomorrow morning. We will probably delay leaving until the we have a better understanding of the situation.
We love you all and appreciate your prayers!
Andy and Lesa