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UPDATE on the Dominican Friars in Kenya
Violence Deepens- Ethnic Strife on the Rise

Kevin Kraft
Kevin Kraft, OP

KISUMU, KENYA, January 28, 2008 -- As I said in yesterday’s letter, things seem to be moving (evolving) very fast here, and in the worst sense. Here are several new developments that we have just seen or heard about today for the first time, which do not bode well at all for the future:

In Kisumu there were violent outbreaks early this morning apparently in reaction to the violence displayed by the ‘other side’ (the Kikuyu population) in Naivasha, which blocked the Naivasha section of the Nairobi-Kisumu highway, wanting to ‘check’ people’s identity cards and determine who had rights to be road users (with evident death threats against other ethnic groups daring to use the road through their ‘territory’). But the new twist is that now Kisumu breaks out in violence because of violence yesterday three or four hours away in another part of the country. If we get this kind of reactionary violence due to violence in other regions, there may be no end to it, but rather an extremely hard-to-stop spiral of violence.

In Kisumu today, at least one school was attacked, and students had to run for safety. One school building was burned. It’s not the first school in the country to be burned; there have been quite a few, but this is the first we know of in Kisumu, and it seems the first targeted as a school, instead of just rampage burning, and was highly publicized at a crucial time when schools were hoping to open finally, since until this morning, things seemed quiet in Kisumu. One of the slogans of ODM-inspired youths here is “No Raila, no education. No Raila, no peace.” And there have apparently been threats against other schools that wanted to resume classes. So, with this situation, nobody will want to try to send their kids to school, nor will schools dare to open. The rioters don’t know what they are doing to their own city and their own people! A month lost already, and now perhaps a whole semester, or a year down the drain? Who knows? Meanwhile, we’re giving some classes to the kids on our compound, since they haven’t yet been able to go to school. We thought that maybe this week some could begin, but now it doesn’t look like it…

Fr. Steve heard from a religious sister who had spoken with her blood sister in a town called Tarbo, not too far from Eldoret (a hotspot for several years now), and she related that the roadblocks there were made with dead bodies!!! That’s a clear sign of the perverse dehumanization of the rioters and an escalation of the brutality of the violence.

The nightly news had very shocking information from Timboroa, somewhere in the Rift Valley, ‘the other side from Kipkelian’ the brothers said. The entire town of Timboroa sustained a concerted and well planned attack by arsons from some other place during the night: the attack took only about an hour altogether, and some 300 houses were torched. The TV footage of the town today is devastating; it looks like a town flattened by a bomb, and there are some 60,000 refugees from that town: basically the entire town is now camping out at the police station or out in the open, on cement floors by the roadside where originally there were traders’ shops. The people are crying out for help from the government, because they’re aware that they are now more vulnerable than ever to any sort of attack.

Yesterday at Maseno University, our friend Raphael heard rumors that those Luos who were ‘harboring’ Kikuyus would have their reckoning, because there would come a group from Kisumu (25 km distance) to evict them. That would mean that somebody has the means and the will to ferry crowds of rioters from one place to another - - not a good development! At the same time a bright bit of news: Martin said one Luo man here had helped to shelter about 50 Kikuyu people several weeks ago (while we were in ‘exile’), moving them around from place to place. Evidently he took huge risks, but probably saved some of them from violence or even from death. A most honorable and truly heroic thing in these circumstances!

As for me, I’m trying to understand all this violence and discover what the Lord wants of us Dominicans in all of this, and how to contribute to peace even in the midst of what looks more and more like the beginning of an outright war.

email Fr. Kevin Kraft OP


Reports from Kevin Kraft:

January 28, 2008
January 27, 2008

Novitiate in Exile

Katie Erisman, MMS

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

Why Is Kenya Bleeding?

Bert Ebben, OP (St. Martin)

Who are the Dominicans in Kenya?


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