I've had an email conversation with another friend located in Kenya. This time my friend is a foreign missionary. As per their request I've removed all references to their name, location, and the organization they work with.
Here are a couple of sound bytes. (Note that some of this is in response to my inquiry about the situation for tourists and foreign aid workers. For you Africa newbies, the word "wazungu" refers generally to white people, or foreigners. Every African language has a variation on this term, and when you travel there you find out very, very quickly what that word is.)
Tourism's come to a virtual halt. Rightfully so. People can still fly
into Nairobi safely and catch a connecting flight to the Maasai Mara.
But there's obviously nothing going on on the tourist scene in
Naivasha, Nakuru, or Kakamega, all typically popular spots. I've been
told that flights into Mombasa, too, are virtually empty, and they
leave full. Doesn't help that 2 German tourists were murdered in
Mombasa this week. People are making use of this time that the police
are focusing on the big picture to commit petty crimes as well as
crimes of revenge.
In our area, almost ALL the wazungu have been pulled out. Peacecorps
came to pick up their workers by helicopter. AMPATH (a large US group
that does major AIDS work) evacuated this week. A friend of
mine and colleague who also happens to do freelance work for [TV Network] and [Newspaper] was attacked by a mob yesterday. He says it was REALLY scary. They
wanted to burn their car down. But my Kenyan colleague who was with him
got out and negotiated with the mob, most of them who were his
neighbors. They ended up getting a police escort to get to the [city]
airport this morning... So, no, now's not the time to come. Especially
with the Kikuyus starting to revenge. The stuff
that's happening in Naivasha is far more brutal than most of what's
Due to the fact that we're serving people from both sides of the
conflict, I cannot go into details of the events so that we do not
offend anyone. Please read for yourself the news to follow what's
happening in the country.
Please pray for Kenya, for peace to return, for God's protection on each and every one of His children, for leaders to act responsibly, for [organization] leaders to have supernatural wisdom in guiding our ministry during this time,
for our children's safety, especially, and that they will not be traumatized by the events around them, for protection of God's property at our [organization's facilities], for sanity to return to Kenya,
for people to put their trust in God, and for God to bring beauty from the ashes and chaos that is unfolding.
Tragic. There are no words to express what I'm feeling right now.
"If the world is sane, then Jesus is mad as a hatter and the Last Supper is the Mad Tea Party. The world says, Mind your own business, and Jesus says, There is no such thing as your own business. The world says, Follow the wisest course and be a success, and Jesus says, Follow me and be crucified. The world says, Drive carefully--the life you save may be your own, and Jesus says, Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. The world says, Law and order, and Jesus says, Love. The world says, Get, and Jesus says, Give. In terms of the world's sanity, Jesus is crazy as a coot, and anybody who thinks he can follow him without being a little crazy too is laboring less under a cross than under a delusion."
(Frederick Buechner, The Faces of Jesus, via ESA).
The unrest seems to be escalating, and Kenyans are now literally ripping parts of their country apart, uprooting miles of railroad tracks, chopping down telephone poles, burning government offices and looting schools...
“This is how we express our outrage,” explained Evans Muremi, a social
worker, who stacked tires to burn while wearing a jacket and tie.
This line from the accompanying photo essay is particularly haunting:
The town [Kisumu] is now almost completely ethnically cleansed of Kikuyus, and
mobs armed with makeshift weapons erected burning roadblocks and
searched for the few Kikuyu targets remaining.
The current chaos in Kenya was not triggered because of a failure of democracy; it was triggered by a selfish bunch of arrogant politicians who feel that they have the divine right to rule at any cost and thus trample all over our democracy. If democracy had been respected we would not be where we are now. Do NOT blame democracy for our troubles, blame those who are trying to trample it and thus follow in the footsteps of the lonely and frail man who lies in a hospital not far away from here.
Greed and political ambition ignite ethnic hatred. In Nairobi it seems to be about politics, while in the rural countryside it's about which tribe you are from. And I continue to grieve for my friends in Kenya, and for this incredibly diverse and beautiful country.
For too long, people have assumed that religion is how we connect with God, whereas relationship is how we connect with people. The original lesson of the Bible is that our connection with God should be a lot more like our relationships with other persons--intimate, unscripted, authentic. Bruxy Cavey, The End of Religion
"Take a good, hard look at your life.
Think it over.
You have spent a lot of money,
but you haven't much to show for it.
You keep filling your plates,
but you never get filled up.
You keep drinking and drinking and drinking,
but you're always thirsty.
You put on layer after layer of clothes,
but you can't get warm.
And the people who work for you,
what are they getting out of it?
a leaky, rusted-out bucket, that's what.
That's why God-of-the-Angel-Armies said:
"Take a good, hard look at your life.
Think it over."
Politics and Jesus-following make strange bedfellows. Earlier in my
life I believed that Christians had a responsibility to bring about
change via their elected officials. Then, I went through a stretch
where I didn't vote at all, feeling that it was something that had no
relevance to the world I wanted to see. I'm back in the voting booth,
but for different reasons.
As a Follower of Jesus I no longer look to our elected officials to
bring about change. This movement is about transformation,
first of the individual, then of the community. The change we want to
see, the steering into the Kingdom, is going to come from the
bottom-up, not top-down. From individuals strengthened by the Spirit to
endeavor to live out the teachings of Jesus. All this is not to say
that I am not engaged politically, at least to a small degree. Fighting
against systems of injustice requires engagement with those systems, at
the very least to stand in opposition to them. In a nutshell, I'm
looking for the politicians to "not make things worse" while those of
us with a vision of the Kingdom, within ourselves and within our world,
figure out what to do with that.
All that being said, there are still two
things that will get my attention when we're talking politics. They're
the same two things that get me excited about Jesus-following too: Hope
I've said many times that I am not optimistic, but I am very
hopeful. I'm also a supporter of that old saw about doing the same
things and expecting different results.
For these and other reasons, we here at Waving or Drowning are
prepared to endorse Barack Obama for President of the United States.
That's right folks, you heard it here first. A nondescript little
Canadian blog is throwing it's hat in the ring, aware of the turmoil
this will undoubtedly cause throughout America-Land.
But in all seriousness... Listening to Senator Obama speak in
Ebenezer Baptist Church the day before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
helped push us over the edge. People want change. People need an outlet for hope.
Then, in a beautifully written piece evoking memories of a better time, Caroline Kennedy (along with other members of the Kennedy clan) has thrown her support behind Obama. People want change.
I've written here about my new found respect for Bill Clinton; clearly he has done his best work since leaving office. It saddens me to see how, in support of his wife's candidacy, he has resorted to political business as usual.
This brings us to the final motivator for our support of Obama, which comes from a fellow blogger and friend Will Samson. Will is someone whose political insights I respect hugely. Like me, he too has a "previous life", but his is a political one. Will is suffering from Clinton Fatigue, and you can read his reflections here.
Let's be clear. As Followers of Jesus we do not rely on our elected officials to do what we should be doing ourselves. Governments cannot love our neighbours, but they can help to create an environment which helps us to do that. I believe that Barack Obama best represents that possibility.
People want change. People want possibility. People want hope--no, they have hope-- and they need an outlet for that hope.
Thank you for sending the mail. Things are very bad at the moment we do not even leave our houses. About two hundred people have died in 3 days of violence and we are just crossing our fingers.
More buildings are going up in flames and today we woke up to the news that one of the newly elected members of parliament was gunned down outside his gate. He was elected on the opposition ticket and we expect the violence to escalate as a result.
There is no food in the markets and the little we get is sold at a ridiculously exorbitant prices. Though the government puts the displaced people at around 500,000 people, we think it may be about 700,000 as more people leave their burning homes everyday.
In Kisumu alone, about 250 vehicles have been reduced to ashes and many buildings also burned. The beautiful town resembles a ghost town and it lies in ruins. Smaller town like Siaya are not spared either.
Long-simmering ethnic tensions threaten to tear apart East Africa's most stable, prosperous country.
By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
They came at night by the hundreds, shooting villagers with arrows and attacking them with knives, hatchets, and farm tools. The killings were a warning to the rest of the village: Leave now, or die.
"These people were our neighbors, I knew them, but what I have seen is something that I cannot explain," says Julia Muthoni, an elderly widow who found refuge in the city of Nakuru. "The problem is that we Kikuyus are being targeted because we voted for the reelection of President Mwai Kibaki. Even before the election, they were threatening us saying that whether Kibaki wins or not, Kikuyus are going to be evicted."
Just a few weeks ago, Kenya remained an oasis of stability surrounded by nations at war. The tourist-friendly country is East Africa's economic engine, a hub for global trade, and a base for international humanitarian work. It has been a been a model of what other African countries could achieve if they worked hard, developed their economies, and embraced free democracy. So the explosion of violence that has left more than 750 people dead – including more than 100 in the past few days – and forced a quarter-million to flee their homes since the disputed Dec. 27 presidential election came as a shock to many. But under the placid surface, Kenya boils with deep ethnic resentment that some observers say has been ignored for too long...
Having spent even just a few weeks in Kenya last year I cannot begin to tell you how this breaks my heart. Read the rest of the article here.