Getting worse before it gets better
Contrary to an ealier post in which I reflected upon my conversation with Wycliffe and a related NPR story, the situation has moved form political to general lawlessness to inter-tribal conflict with intentional killings for the purpose of revenge.
I have received communications from Cameron, Gladys, and Jacintah.
SMS from Cameron, 25-Jan-08, 04:35
“Dont come unless already set. I can’t even get to[Pistis]. Bought 400$ food w gladys and she took [to Pistis]. I am safe but sit[uation] is bad. Talk soon.”
SMS from Cameron, 25-Jan-08, 06:00
“Hey k, doing fine. 30 refugee kids @ CMD [Pistis]. No internet, town is shut down. Safe @ home, cam”
SMS from Cameron, 25-Jan-08, 22:39
“No immediate rush w money. I’ll use my own until [donations] come in. Banks may not open – army shut down town today w curfew. Areas around [Pistis] most dangerous.”
SMS from Gladys, 26-Jan-08, 11:02
“Hi kai, thank u 4 the support of money. Cameron bought goods worth ksh 27,000 2day. Thank you 4 ur love n concern. Mama Gladys n Bishop”
SMS from Cameron, 26-Jan-08, 12:06
“50 dead today here. Burning houses a mile away. But home and safe. Plan to be here months. Violence no longer pol[itical].”
SMS from Jacintah, 26-Jan-08, 21:37
“Hi, we’r all fine n pistis is ok 2. The morning of yesterday i saw 7 dead bodies which were cut n burnt at ponda mali ([where] u bought potatoes, do u remember that market?) we’ve curfe n security implemented at nite but still people r dying during the day n early morning.”
I spoke to Cameron two days ago and then again this morning, following a long conversation with Wycliffe. Cameron is living a few miles from the Pistis orphanage, off the main highway to Nairobi, on the southwest side of Nakuru. From his home there, he can see smoke on the horizon, homes burning in the area immediately surrounding Pistis.
Yesterday, Cameron went to town with Gladys, the founder of Pistis, to purchase food for the orphanage. He is using his own funds until we can route the donations (over $1500 USD in the pas 48 hours) to his account.
He describes downtown Nakuru, the business district, as relatively untouched by the violence. Roughly 50% of the stores are shutdown, steel roll-away doors protecting the store fronts from vandalism. The number of people on the streets is also at roughly half, with a greater military presence than normal.
Nakuru is under a 7 pm to 7 am curfew, which Cameron states is working to some degree. And yet 50 people are reported to have been killed yesterday. Wycliffe confirms this number from Pistis. Cameron is unable to get to Pistis which is in the center of the high tension area.
Wycliffe is now living at Pistis instead of his apartment or his family home two kilometers distance, toward the national park. He is acting as a security guard by night, and helping to keep things running smooth by day.
The tension around Pistis has escalated to a critical high, with threats by tribesman to avenge killings, boys and men carrying jengas and machetes even as they pass by the police and military. It is the poorest part of Nakuru with the highest density of people. This is where tribal conflict erupted some years earlier.
Wycliffe walked through the streets just outside of Pistis and counted some 20 bodies, slain in the past day or two. In his thirty years he cannot recall anything like this.