Friday, 1 August 2008

So I lied... (1)

Next week came and went, and still no ADSL. And then I discovered that ADSL in Nairobi stands for Absolutely Damned Slow Line - rather like dial up but more expensive. And then there came the election...

Having become somewhat bewitched by the beauty of Kenya and rather caught up in the joy of our expatriate lifestyle, the election and resulting fallout came as a surprise of the worst kind. It shouldn't have. Having grown up in Africa (albeit further south), I should know that closely contested elections on this continent have a long history of resulting in contentious results and, all to often, violence.

Fortunately, the Good Man had not been as blinded as I and subtly arranged for us to be in Cape Town for Christmas, where we stayed until the dust settled in early January. Actually,the dust hadn't and probably still hasn't settled completely. But we felt that we were safe to go back. 

However, Kenya had become a political hot potato and several aid donors, the Good Man's employers included, began speaking of revoking funding to Kenya in an attempt to pressure the government into a power sharing arrangement. After much negotiation, the influence of Kofi Annan and Condeleezza Rice, a power sharing agreement was reached.  But by then the Good Man had felt that it would be prudent to look at other options rather than leaving his career to the whims of others. (At one time there was talk of moving him to Sudan - not a family friendly posting...)

This was an incredibly stressful time for the whole of Kenya and I can't help, in retrospect, thinking that my worries were so minor in comparison to those of so many others. All of our staff moved onto our property - they had been evicted from their homes for belonging to the 'wrong' tribal affliation. And they were considered the lucky ones - they had jobs and somewhere to go.

I volunteered at an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp and met many families who had been driven out of towns they had lived in for all of their lives, under threat of violence. Now they were living in Nairobi, jobless and homeless. The children in these camps were finding it impossible to find places in schools and you could feel their dreams diminishing with each day of learning under the tuition of underqualified 'teacher' volunteers, from decade old books, in the shade of tents.

Although a political resolution was found and calm achieved, the underlying differences between Kenyan ethnic groupings were brought to the surface and it will, undoubtedly, take a very long time for trust to be established.

Enough for one day. Much has happened to us since then and chapters are required. Tune in tomorrow for the next instalment...


5 comments:

Annie said...

So glad that you are safe! I figured that once you got out of Glasgow and had a life beyond grey skies and rain you'd have no time for blogging!

I hope things continue to improve - as I do for the country of my own birth, Zimbabwe - I fear that improvement will be a long time coming however.

Misssy M said...

Your silence has been slightly concerning. People say that blogs come and go and people couldn't care less...when one packs up, they move onto others with nary a thought. But I have to say that is untrue and I am glad you're back and all seems well.

And I look forward to reading the reflections on, what must have been, a crazy year.

Good to see you back.

http://reluctantmemsahib.wordpress.com said...

Hooray, hooray, hooray. You're back. Keep writing x

MoziEsmé said...

Keep us posted. Love your definition of ADSL - we've got the same thing in Mozambique. Though chances are good it won't be working at all, let alone slow, and it's still ridiculously expensive. That's before they start adding everyone else's charges to your bill hoping you won't notice and just automatically pay your bill.

Sparx said...

I can't believe this. I just, the week before you posted this, regretfully, during one of my very rare overhauls, deleted your link from my link bar under the assumption that you were missing in Africa - sooooo glad to have you back!