Being Dominican
Preachers Resources
Justice and Peace
Faith and Film
Groups and Organizations
Latin America

Free Update

Can't open PDF format files? Click on the link to download the latest Adobe Reader. It is safe and secure and free. Really.
Dominican Life | USA
| Sisters | Associates| Friars | Laity | Nuns | Link to Groups| DLC
| World OP
free email subscription
Coming Events

We have Family in Kenya

A SPECIAL EYE WITNESS REPORT on Violence in Kenya from the Dominican Friars

Vincent Wiseman, OP Student Master and
Kevin Kraft, OP Novice Master

political reality of Kenya

Kenya Map

There are 14 major tribes in Kenya and another 17 that are quite small .The Kikuyu are the largest tribe with 13 percent  of the population. The Luo are the third largest with 11 percent of the population. The current President, Mwai Kibaki is Kikuyu. His opponent in the recent election is Raila Odinga and he is Luo. (Incidently, Barack Obama's Father was Luo.) Although their traditional areas of Kenya are not close, there are historical reasons that explain the friction between them.

The results of the recent election were quite clearly questionable, and it seems apparent that changes in the tally were made in the very electoral commission. While opposition leader Raila had been winning, in the end, the results declared Kibaki as president by a narrow margin. One reason why this is odd is that Raila's party won about 75% of the parliament seats and many of Kibaki's cabinet and supporters were not reelected, including his vice president Moody Awori. Former president Moi's two sons were also not reelected. It seemed clear that the country wanted a change.

Mawai Kibaki was sworn in as president in a private ceremony within a half hour. Raila has refused to accept this action and called for a rally Friday and again on Sunday.  The bishops have asked for a recount and for dialogue between the two sides. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has come and wishes to help with arbitration. Presently, the two leaders are the problem. Neither of them is accepting responsibility for what is happening in the country. Please pray that their hearts change as they are causing great sufferings for the people of this country. And as happened in the riots in the US, it is the poor who bear the brunt of the suffering. The people of Kenya deserve much better leadership than these two men.

Here is the problem. Every society has is group of hoodlums who welcome such an opportunity. Think of what happened in Washington, Detroit and Los Angeles 40 years ago. These same elements have been unleashed. Luos living in Kikuyu areas have been attacked and some killed. This is what happened to Br. Thomas Odhiambo's uncle, who was dragged from his house and beaten to death. His brothers and aunt also live in the same area and are in hiding. Please pray for them. At the same time, Kikuyu people in Luo area have been attacked and killed. Br. Mark Anthony who is Luo was approached by three men who had knives and told to speak Luo. As you know, these are not the good people of Kenya. This is the element of society found in every country which emerges at such times and then go back to their lives of petty crime and drugs.

The Dominican Family in Kenya

Kenya Nuns
Corpus Christi Monastery Nuns at prayer

With regard to our  two houses outside of Nairobi, we are far enough away from the city to be fairly secure. Some religious houses are on the border of Kibera, the huge slum in Nairobi. Please pray for them as well. Please pray for our student brothers who have been away visiting their families after Christmas. We don't want them traveling until it is safe. We pray that they will all return without any incidents.

The house in Kisumu and the Hawthorne Sisters are a distance from downtown Kisumu. They are also protected by a stone wall built after fr. Tom Heath, OP was killed in robbery in 2005. An electric fence tops the stone wall. In addition, they have a security team living on the compound from the Tugen tribe, (frankly, they are Tugen warriors) who are known for their toughness. Fr. Martin Martiny and the community have taken in a number of refugees. We can be pretty sure that they will safe on that compound.

On  the compound we have some 32 "guests" in addition to the 60 or so kids who have asked for safe haven for fear of getting killed or burnt out of their houses.  Some are family members of our excellent accountant, Gatwiri, a Kikuyu, who rented a room or house just 1/3 mile away - she came with all her stuff, sisters and brothers-in-law and kids.  John Linus, an OP laity and his entire family asked to come (nine well behaved children) because in his neighborhood life was becoming untenable due to police shooting, mob burning and looting.  The day we picked him up he told us the locals had just finished emptying out totally the home of a Kikuyu just a few doors away.   Yet he's a Luo, as are some of the young men who were also afraid and asked for temporary lodging here:  they're in the warehouse. 

 Then yesterday came Dr. Demwanza, accused of being a Kikuyu (he's Congolese!), whose house a mob tried three times to burn down;  he came also with his entire family for their security.  Fortunately we have space for them on the compound, between the sisters' guest house & rooms, and our postulancy + St. Martin de Porres house (the Peace Corps couple occupying this latter were "consolidated" in a safe spot in Milimani, so they could be evacuated together if their administration decides to do so!).   All these folks are being fed up on the upper compound with Fr. Tom's kids.   The only real fear we have at this point is that apparently some people came by today  asking what tribe the people on our compound were!!!   So we've put the guards on special alert (well, they've been on it for a week now, but to be aware that there may be some special risk here).  It's good we have the wall and electric fence! 

Our novitiate life continues, not as if nothing were happening, because all of us are greatly interested and concerned for what is happening in the country and in our city, and Kevin has encouraged them in that.  At the same time Kevin has tried to keep up some semblance of novitiate life in terms of the rhythm of prayer, classes, etc., although for a few days we were literally at the TV for about 6 hrs a day because the events were so unexpected and transcendental.  We share a lot our perspective on the news.  

Kevin Kraft
Kevin Kraft, OP

We managed to have a very beautiful, 2-3 hr sharing on New Year's Eve, looking back at the year 2007, which for all five of us has been a remarkable and watershed year.  Now that things are a little less hectic and some of our employees are back after nearly 10 days off,  we've begun some classes.  Scheduled classes haven't begun yet, because some of the SSND postulants still haven't been able to return to Kisumu.   Kevin has decided to use this 'teachable moment' to do a short class on "Dominicans and Politics", with a nod to figures over our eight centuries' existence up to Lacordaire, and then looking at such 20th century figures as F Strattmann, D. Pire, M-J. Lebret, B. Hussar, Gustavo Gutierrez, Albert Nolan,  H. de Rosiers, the 2002 "There's got to be another way" fast and the sisters imprisoned for their war protest, finishing with the Dominican presence in the U.N.    We've dedicated our Thursday adoration, weekly intercession and petitions at Lauds and Vespers these days to peace for Kenya. 

Special gratitude to Dominic Izzo, OP St. Joseph Province provincial for providing this report.


Scale of Kenya's refugee crisis begins to emerge

Post Election Violence Leads to Political Crisis

in Kenya:

There are three communities of friars in Kenya: St. Dominc's, in Nairobi which is home to the brothers in initial formation; and friars who teach, preach and are involved in campus ministry.

St. Martin dePorres in Kisumu is home to the novitiate and a much needed outreach to poor children.

St. Catherine of Siena House, Nairobi, Kenya is the home of the first Dominican run parish in Eastern Africa.

The Hawthorne Dominicans established a ministry to children with cancer in Kisumu, there are three sisters there.

Corpus Christi Monastery in Nairobi is the first home of Dominican Nuns in Eastern Africa.

Houston Dominican Sr. Mary Brenda, RN runs a clinic dispensery in a village just outside Nairobi.  St. Bakhita Clinic is in Utawla, where a Dominican Friar is pastor of the local church.  The clinic is a joint effort of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and the Dominicans of Houston.

The Missionary Dominicans of the Sacred Heart from are also in Kenya, but we have no word on their situation.

subscribe to and receive a free email update every two weeks. unsubscribe