Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Letter from Eric!

We were so pleased to get a long letter from our sponsored student now in his second year at Moi University. He did such a good job of explaining the politics behind the recent upheavals in Kenya, it seemed only right to post his letter for all of you to read.This letter means so much to me. I remember the day I first met Eric at Meru Boys School -- a young man who had just been turned away from school one more time due to a lack of fees. Thanks to many well-wishers from the U.S., I was able to pay his fees so he could complete school--this to the glee of his headmaster who knew that Eric had a bright future if only he could get an education. You can read the whole story by scrolling to the beginning of this blog. Like Dennis Mutuma (please read the next article as well as this one!)Eric is a fine example of the positive effects of Cherish Ministry to Meru.

Hi Mom, Dad.

I pray that this letter finds you in good health and full of God’s love.

Finally there is calm in this great land called Kenya and people can go about their business without fear of being victimized for being born in certain regions of this country. Kenya is divided into eight administrative provinces: Eastern (where Meru is), Central, Rift Valley, Nyanza, The Coast, Northeastern, Western and Nairobi provinces.

Unfortunately, each ethnic group of people, know one of the provinces (or part of a province) as their ancestral land. For example, the Central province is predominantly Kikuyu land, Nyanza is predominantly Luo land, etc.-- apart from Nairobi which comprises of a mixture of people. During the run-up to the general elections last December, most politicians campaigned on a plat-form of federalism. The opposition particularly made people believe in a federal system of governance. It was understood by the common man that once there is federalism in Kenya, the people who have done businesses and established themselves in areas outside their ancestral land would be chased out, leaving their property and wealth to the indigenous people of those areas. It is not surprising, therefore that people were ready with all manner of crude weapons even before we voted. Some community leaders even trained and funded gangs of illiterate youths ahead of time to do the dirty work of flushing out perceived intruders in “their” land.

The hostility was mostly directed against the Kikuyu and Meru people in the Rift Valley and Nyanza provinces. [This would include Eldoret where Moi University is situated]. Violence broke out because it was expected that the opposition leader would be announced the winner, which was not the case. Have you heard of the three-piece suit kind of voting, where people vote as a block in a particular way? Well, I wouldn’t say that it’s a bad thing --especially when people vote this way because of their concern about a particular issue like the economy, health policies and so on. However, it is very bad when people vote in a particular way due to their ethnic affiliations, while perceiving the other ethnic groups with a different opinion as enemies. It is a very divisive move. It is healthy when people favor their own, but when people who have lived as neighbors for decades raise against each other because of a difference in ethnic backgrounds, then you must agree it is not the best scenario.
There is no question that Kenya is a divided country as at now. My prayer is that in future, this country will be spared of the anarchy we have witnessed in three provinces for the last one month. It is very devastating. A case in point is Kisumu [near Lake Victoria]. Before the 2007 elections, Kisumu town was so developed that it had been elevated into city status. However, after just four weeks of lawlessness, it’s a mere shell of itself.

I am still not back to college, one week after the official re-opening. I am afraid that chaos may erupt if the political settlement being sought by the mediation talks does not satisfy the opposition leaders and their supporters. It is crucial that I give it a few more days because Moi University is situated in one of the violence hotspots. The mediation team says that the political settlement needed to bring peace in the country might be realized the coming Tuesday. Nevertheless, if the settlement is delayed further, I will have to take my chances because I am missing out on important lectures.
God bless and keep you always.