Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Reflecting on Blood, Evil, God, Depression, Tusker, 2008 Violence

The smell of sun-roasted soldier's boots on that afternoon discouraged me or any of the many journalists in the room from breathing normally. The dust was chocking. The boots were putrid.

The stinking sticky bodies of the people did not offer much inspiration to stay on inside the dust soaked carpet at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.

I had not been home to change the previous day - on 29 December 2007. I was not feeling as uncomfortable like many of my colleagues, somehow. This afternoon - on 30 December 2007 - as the sun was starting to come down, behind the Intercontinental Hotel, something felt spooky, wrong. Really wrong!

The police officers in red-berets marched in... in some kind of movie-like slow-motion, gently raising the dust in the carpet. They had come to politely tell us that we had to leave the room at the KICC where it had become impossible for Samuel Kivuiti and his team at the Electoral Commission of Kenya to say anything without sounding ridiculous.

Well, the soldiers showed us out. It took several minutes of feet-dragging and looking back over the shoulder in case someone had thought important to allow us back to report the final result of the presidential ballot.

Outside, by the fountain, just behind the statute of Jomo Kenyatta, NTV television was still live from somewhere inside the KICC, relaying the story on expected results of presidential election.

It was just after 5:30pm. The sky just above the KICC appeared luminous, with dying sun streaks. The several flag posts appeared to be filing past each other, casting some small shadows over the KICC. Ordinarily, years back, this would have been time to lead the cows and goats home.

I called up Raila Odinga to seek to hear what he knew was happening. I can't remember what he said. I called up Ngari Gituku, the man who had been a major campaigner form President Kibaki, and whom we had become good friends. He said something to the effect that Kibaki had been elected.

I then called the newsdesk where I used to edit news, and decisively told them that KBC was due to announce that Kibaki had been elected by a small margin.

I also told a BBC friend that KBC was due to announce the results. I just knew somehow that was to happen. Minutes later, the newsdesk called me back, and said KBC was live with results and that Kibaki had been declared the winner.

They were sending me a car to pick me. My colleague came by in under ten minutes, and at exactly 6pm, we left for a bar along Lenana Road to start drinking. I had not been a serious drinker at all, before then.

Just before we ordered food and Tusker, somebody switched from DSTV to Citizen Television on terrestrial. It was getting a bit dark by then. It was just in time for us to watch Kibaki taking oath of office at the State House lawn where I had been weeks earlier for a story. Several election losers were sitting by. Well, it did not matter anyway. I was holding a cold Tusker beer.

The ceremony did not last for more that a few minutes. And when I looked the other way, towards Yaya Centre, huge plume of black smoke was billowing. It was the start of violence in Kibera. Olympics was burning.

My phone continued ringing the whole evening. It was my colleagues telling me that there had been violence, and houses were burning. Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kericho, Mombasa, Mathare. I switched off my phone. It was too sad.

Kenya then made a steep descend into deadly violence and destitution.

Too depressed that the nation I had so much loved had plummeted into bloodshed was too much to bear.

With over KES 20,000, we moved down the down to the now closed Red Sea Restaurant along Lenana Road. We stayed there for days, weeks with a colleague, drinking and watching Andrew Simmons of Al-Jazeera English saying that Kenya was burning.

I was too depressed to go back to work and I was due to be sacked. I think I was and later reinstated. I went to my house to change around 8th of January. I had been in the same new black jeans I had bought before Christmas, two days before elections, in company of a girl I had liked very much.

When I was on phone next was just after 4pm on 1 January, in time for a call from my BBC friend who phoned to tell me that a church had been burnt near Eldoret and some people may have been killed. My heart sunk.

So much water have gone under the bridge since all these happened. I have since sought treatment for depression because of the sadness and exposure to high stress levels.

In my heart of hearts, I have never believed that has moved on since Kibaki-Odinga government was inaugurated. In many ways, this country remains as divided as the day when retarded PNU MPs said Kufuor had come to have tea in Nairobi.

And when the ICC this week indicted four people, I made up my mind that I wanted to become a psychic, if I can.

I feel like I have totally lost a sense of trust in this nation. I feel like I don't believe that this ICC process is genuine, when I think of the continuing killings in Syria.

And still, when I think about these ICC indictments, my heart goes out to the four men, and their families as well as the people who were killed and those who lost their loved ones in the mayhem.

Somehow, in some way, the violence and the subsequent peace deal took away some part of my heart. It dented my conscious vitality to trust human beings, institutions of capitalism, genuine love and hope itself.

And more brutally, I have lost all hope in all Kenyan leaders. They represent wickedness, deceit, treachery and raw narcissism.

Reflecting on how this country and nation has sought to move on, my mind shuts down completely.

The Kenya violence represented evil in full Glory. I asked ''would God have helped this nation to avoid this evil''. Maybe he was helpless, in as much as He wanted to help. Or he allowed the mayhem to act as some lesson. But then again, what lesson?

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