We arrived safely in Joburg earlier this evening. The trip to the airport was one of the scariest moments in my life. Though we had planned to leave for the airport early in the morning even though the flight left late in the afternoon, winding up took much longer then we expected and we found ourselves left with only one route to the airport – Lenana Road to Upper Hill – then Uhuru Highway past Nyayo. Arwings Kodhek, Mbagathi, area around Kenyatta Hospital were already no go areas by 10:00 am with groups engaged in running battles with the police and walking around back roads harassing people. The drive was tense, each landmark felt like a small victory (actually the whole thing felt like an evacuation) – past DOD phew, past Nairobi Hospital phew, into Upper Hill phew, down Uhuru Highway phew, then we got to the roundabout that takes you into West when we saw a big mob approaching from Industrial Area and just about to walk right into a confrontation with GSU and police who are all over Nyayo Stadium. There was no conversation in the car until we reached the airport. If we had left the house even two minutes later we would have driven right into that mess. Five minutes after we passed by, there were gunshots in the area and Mombasa Road was a no-go area. Crazy.
About to collapse from exhaustion so here’s a quick update.
– Tutu met with Raila and other ODM leaders, but Kibaki refused to meet with him (I hear because Tutu didn’t follow protocol and met with Raila first….what???). Anyway, there’s no good reason for Kibaki ignoring Tutu and all this indicates that the government is ready to dig in.
– You’ve all heard about Wako’s press release by now. I’m still wondering who he was speaking for – himself? the government?
– Most of the police I saw today looked fatigued. A friend of mine who’s house was burned down in Olympic Estate says that the cops are just overwhelmed in Kibera and even the shoot to kill order, which has been heavily implemented, has failed to contain the violence in that area.
– Google Earth supposedly shows in great detail where the damage is being done on the ground. It occurs to me that it will be useful to keep a record of this, if one is thinking long-term. For the reconciliation process to occur at the local level the truth of what happened will first have to come out. Guys looking to do something – any techies out there willing to do a mashup of where the violence and destruction is occurring using Google Maps?
-Speaking of documenting truth, it also occurs to me that we have no reliable figures of the real death tolls on the ground. Perhaps we can begin to collect information from organizations and individuals on the ground e.g. red cross, hospitals, etc. and start to build a tally online, preferably with names. Most of the people losing their lives will remain nameless, and it might be worthwhile to at least change that. Any volunteers/ideas?
– One more thing…I think Safaricom and Celtel should start selling airtime directly to individuals online to help the guys in the diaspora get airtime to their families and friends. Perhaps bombard them with emails requesting this?
– Nyanza Province was under a curfew today.
– ODM plans to hold another rally on Saturday. I fail to see the point of these rallies…they’d be better off trying to assist people who have been affected by the violence. It is possible to fight a good fight.
– Bankelele has a good post that highlights why the conflict is about more than just Kikuyu vs. Luo (can the international media please catch up).