Because None of Us Want a Kenyan Genocide

A couple of days ago I received a most distressing email from some friends, a lovely couple named Auntieclare and Jon. They've been married for about a year now and are some of the most wonderful people you ever want to meet.

Auntieclare is from Kenya and if you follow the news at all, you know that there has been major drama going on there due to protests over their recent election. I forwarded their email to a bunch of my friends and family and one of them wrote me this morning and suggested that I post Jon and Auntieclare's request for help right here on my blog. It's a genius idea because the more of us that are aware and then take action, the quicker this situation will change.

Dear Friends, Family, and Associates,

I am writing to request your assistance with an extremely challenging issue.... As some of you are aware my wife is from Kenya. Our family lives their now.. and are in grave danger...

Within the the last 3 days there has erupted a huge campaign of violence, ethnic cleansing and tribal warfare from the alleged rigging of the presidential election leading to the re-election of Kibaki. I will not relate the details as they are all readily available on the websites I include at the bottom of this email... but the basic reality is that the country is entering a state of warfare... Martial law has been declared by the president... a curfew... riot police are out in streets throughout the country... if you are out past curfew you are beaten or shot... looting and rioting has decimated many of the shops in the town centers... many I and my family would frequent...leaving many without basic supplies to live. The President has shut off all the radio stations... all you hear is the eerie sound of static as you scan the airwaves... The television stations are only broadcasting un-interrupted movies... no news.. no announcements...Everyone in Kenya uses pre-paid calling cards for cell phones.. and the president has ordered them to stop being sold... He has stopped all flow of information internally... We had to ask our mom not to call her friends and conserve what little credit she has.. we now have to call regularly to check on the situation... even the phone networks have been going down... He has shut the water supply off to Nairobi City (the largest and most developed city in east Africa)... There are frequent blackouts.

The two major tribes representing the presidential opponents are Kikuyu and Luo. My Wife and Family are Luo. Kikuyus are attacking and killing Luos en-masse throughout the country... and Luo are killing Kikuyu around the country... within the last day.. mass killings have begun.. In Lou towns Kikuyus have begun killing Luos....locking Luo social clubs while people are inside and burning them down... over 50 Kikuyu women and children sought refuge in a church after their homes were burned and an angry mob of youth locked them in the church and set fire to it killing 35... those who escaped were met on the outside with the mob... beaten... and burned to death in a kitchen garden outside the church... decimation of neighborhoods, slums, and villages where supporters of either candidate are being burned to the ground.. with people inside....These atrocities are reminiscent of the beginnings of the Genocide which took place in Rwanda (The next Door neighbor to Kenya)...My Mother In Law in Kenya received word from a friend in government that Kibaki was about to be announced the winner off the election and that she should rush to the grocery store because it was about to get very bad... she sent my cousins to the store to buy what food she could afford... that night 3 local social spots where my family would regularly hang out were locked up and burnt down with people inside...

Luckily my family was all at home anticipating the violence to come...They are locked in their small apartment.. 2 small bedrooms in a stone apartment structure. They have a small security gate before the front door which they have padlocked shut... My brother in law...lost track of his family when their neighborhood was attacked, people killed, and burnt to the ground... he ran around searching all night and luckily he was able to locate them... they rushed to my mother in laws home... He, His Wife, and Small children had to pass through streets littered with bodies... there are now over 14 people in this tiny apartment... they only have food for a couple more days... the stores are dangerous if impossible to get to... most stores have been shut or ransacked so there is no food anyway... what food is left is being sold at very high costs... Gunshots are heard round the clock and throughout the night...

I paint this picture to give an idea of the severity of the situation... I watch and feel helpless... Many who have watched Hotel Rwanda can remember that feeling of "What did we / could we have done to prevent this..." This is a similar situation... I am not sure of the best remedy for it.. but it is apparent that something needs to be done before the violence, civil unrest and massacres extend any further...

How can I sit by and watch another Rwanda or Somalia take place without so much as opening my mouth... and the fact that my family is directly involved impels me to act with determination. Things may get better on their own... maybe in a few days... a few weeks... a few months... but for each day it doesn't... lives are lost.. families shattered.. and we inch closer to genocide... how many times did people assume that it would probably work itself out in Rwanda or Somalia.... and thereby delay their own action... inaction enabled a spark to become a flame and a flame into an inferno.

I am writing to my congress people in Los Angeles... imploring them to press the US govt. and the UN to intervene... The only way to ensure my families safety is to ensure peace in Kenya... Please take a moment to do something... write to your congress person or call them and urge them to address the issue of the unrest in Kenya with haste... Each day that passes people are dying and being ripped from their homes...only 250 people have been documented killed so far... thousands injured and over 70,000 made homeless in 3 days... This does not include those who are fleeing and are undocumented by the statistics. I mentioned hotel Rwanda.. and the vivid picture it painted which brought us all a bit of shame... now picture your family in that hotel... being left to die as other countries get their own people out... this is more than a movie... My family is at serious risk...and I am praying for their safety. Please take a moment and help be a part of bringing about peace... not only for my own families but for all of Kenya... And Above All Pray For Them...


Jon and Auntieclare R____



And I'm going add a link on how to find your senator as well because you can be sure I sent an email off to Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein... and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Here's what my girl Suzy wrote to her representative in case you need some ideas of what to put in those email forms:

Dear Representative Waxman,
I am writing to express my concern over current atrocities in Kenya following that country's national election. I support U.S. and/or U.N. intervention immediately to avoid more senseless killing. Recent events in Kenya echo the genocides in Rwanda and Zimbabwe - abhorrent history that should not be repeated.

And of course, if you are not one to write to a politician, please do pray for them. Whatever your beliefs, we can all pray.


thailandchani said…
I will definitely keep them in my thoughts and prayers.

I will not be writing to US authorities because historically it is obvious they don't particularly care. They have no business interests there.

However, I will be looking for some international resources to keep track of what's going on.
My brother was just talking to me about this situation when I was back east. One of his closest friends is from Kenya and was working with one of the candidates (not sure which one). He called while I was there. This fighting needs to end now.

Thank you for this post. This does impact all of us.
Ian Lidster said…
I find the Kenyan thing distressing at many levels, the primary one being that Kenya was one of the functional states in Africa until recently.
I'm old enough that I remember (as a child) the Mau-Mau uprising of the 1950s, so it's sad to see this happening. Good post, dear Liz
Hi Liz,
I emailed my congressman- John Salazar this morning, and voiced my concerns. I know he's just a redneck rancher from BFE Colorado, as far as the rest of the country is concerned, but I just wanted to let you know I tried.
Im thinking happy thoughts for your friends.
Mes Deux Cents said…
HI Liz,

I will email my congressperson. She is pretty good on these issues.

The unfortunate truth is that the U.S. would only be interested in this conflict if someone could pick up Kenya in its entirety and drop it in the middle of Europe. Then there would be outrage and action.

I actually think that it may be more productive to write to the British government. I think considering their history with Kenya that they may be more willing to intervene.

Also, letters from U.S. citizens to another government requesting help might embarrass the U.S. into doing something.

My prayers will be with your friends.
Jen said…
Thank you for posting this, Liz. I'd like to link to it, if I may. I just wrote my Rep and Senators, as well as the candidates and Reid and Pelosi. This was a very important post.
Liz Dwyer said…
I know what you mean. I don't know what US business interests are in Kenya but surely if enough people stand up and demand action, something will have to happen. Or maybe I'm just naive in believing that. I don't know. But I have to believe that change can happen if enough folks demand it. Plus, even though Obama's not my senator, I wrote him because his father's from Kenya and Hillary Clinton since she claims to have so much foreign policy expertise.

I hope your brother's friend is alright. I'm waiting to hear how my friend's family is faring. I hope they're alright. This fighting does need to end now. The ethnic cleansing that happens in so many parts of the world makes me feel sick.

I am so glad that my friend suggested I post this email on my blog. I just listened to Barack Obama's Iowa victory speech...and gosh, the man has me believing we can change things.

I'm so glad you took the time to email your congressman...and goodness, I think if a "redneck rancher" were to speak up about this, that's something that would make folks sit up and take notice! I definitely believe it's the people that you least expect to speak up that oftentimes can get people to pay attention.

Contacting folks in the UK is a good idea. My friend that suggested I put this on my blog actually lives there so I'll ask him about that. And thank you for the prayers. They are surely needed.

Of course you can link to it. I hope as many people as possible find out about this and do something. You're awesome to contact your Rep and Senators already. I wrote Pelosi as well but forgot about Reid. Good looking out.
DJ Black Adam said…
Well you know I’m quick to write a letter to a politician, however; the US’s track record in Africa is abysmal. Interevention from the US is not probable. However, if we pressure the Congressional Black Caucus members, we maybe able to leverage some action.
Liz Dwyer said…
True. I did read that Obama has had words with Condi about this and with the Ambassador to Kenya. The CBC -- pressuring them is a good idea, although they can't get mess done for black folks in THIS country so... ugh, I hate the stepping in at the last minute that this country does!
I will write to all who have the power to help and hope that they will do so.

Thank you for posting this, Liz. It's a very serious situation which must be stopped for its own sake and also because if allowed to continue, it will happen in more and more places.
Gunfighter said…
A letter has been sent to the Virginia Senatorial delegation.
Liz Dwyer said…
Heart & Gunfighter,
What's going on is the opposite of the hakuna matata saying that comes from there. Glad you both are writing to ask for increased diplomatic pressure.

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