If you want to know what actually happens in communities that get caught up in a paroxysm of inter-group violence, and what it feels like to live in such a community, go over to the Kenyan Peacework blog today and read this post from Dave Zarembka, a US Quaker who lives with his Kenyan Quaker wife Gladys in Kipkarren River, in western Kenya.
All of Dave’s emails about the violence that has swept Kenya since the deeply contested January 27 election have been posted on the KP blog (which I earlier wrote about here), and are worth reading. In this one he writes, in particular, about the role played in fomenting the climate of violence– and the commission of actual acts of horrendous violence– by the rapid spreading of fear-inducing rumors and the parallel spreading of great clouds of unknowing.
He gives several examples of this, and reports several things that have been happening in his town in the past couple of days. Including this:
- In Chekalini, the area where Florence lives, the high school is now the internally displaced person’s camp for about 1000 Luhya who have fled the violence in Nakuru and Naivasha. Like the Kikuyu IDP’s here, they have lost everything. More are coming all the time as they are being forced out of Central Province as being non-Kikuyu. So soon we are having another humanitarian disaster. A man stopped me on the road during my morning walk through town and said that it was not fair that the Kikuyu were getting relief and the others were not. At that time I did not understand since I did not know that so many internal refugees had showed up in Lugari. Lugari is the closest Luhya District on the main road through Eldoret so I suspect that many of these people will stop here.
None of this, of course, is reported by the media since no one has reporters of any kind in the area. Are those who have died in Lugari District accounted for in the national total which
is now officially 850? I doubt that many of them are. There are hundreds and hundreds of little places like Lumakanda, Turbo, and Kipkarren River. What is the real truth of what is happening in all these communities?
He ends with this:
- So truth, the reality of what actually is happening around you is difficult to grasp because all those normal markers you have about your surroundings are suspect. It is so easy to be “sucked in” by rumors. And yet to understand the dangers around you, you have to listen to others.
Dave is an incredibly fearless guy and a valuable witness for us all there. He reports that another US Quaker, Eden Grace, has been evacuated from Kisumu to Nairobi with her family, but he himself seems thus far intent on staying where he is.
Send Dave and Gladys a thought or a prayer. Read (and perhaps send your comments to) that blog post there at KP. Circulate that post or other KP posts to all your friends who might be interested. And do whatever you can, wherever you are, to urge your government to work with Kenya’s people to restore calm, security, and hope to a country now bleeding badly from this internal violence.