I got this letter yesterday and wanted to share some of the news/thoughts/links/goings on related to the violent chaos and upheaval in Kenya. If so inclined I encourage you to participate by signing the petition linked at the bottom, or contacting one of the two activists mentioned below. Even if not inclined, it's still an opportunity to make a deposit in the bank of good will and karma.
My dear dear friends,
I just thought I'd share the attached letter with you - it's a really clear, honest and passionate piece that was written by my friend Shailja, who is a poet and currently a member of the groups Kenyans for Truth, Peace and Justice.
For those of you who don't know, Kivuitu was the chair of the Electoral Commission of Kenya in the just concluded national elections that have been the country's worst nightmare.
What follows, is my cry for help, ideas, anything. Half the time I feel like I'm losing my mind because I don't even know what my friends think or feel, or where people stand. Before today, I think I was even afraid to ask, but I realize that this is part of the problem right now in Kenya and I want to be a part of the solution - not tomorrow, next year or in 5 years time when the damage is irreversible, but TODAY.
For those of you who are in Kenya, are committed to Truth, Justice and Peace, are wondering what you can do to make a difference, but feel helpless and are not sure where to begin, please let me know. At this point, I personally don't care who supported PNU, ODM, ODM-Kenya, or did not even vote. That's besides the point now. I'm desperate to be with people that are committed to the same values and want to make a difference, in any way they can. The country is in serious crisis and it's going to take many individuals coming together, with the same values and principles to shift things. It's going to take a lot of work and commitment, but I really believe that we can each make a difference. All it takes are powerful ideas, sustained actions and strong networks. I'm only in Kenya for another week or so, but if we can come up with several ideas that can be sustained until justice is restored, that would be great - and this is true for those in the diaspora as well.
We really can't leave it to just a handful of leaders and thousands of poor slum dwellers to fight for freedom and justice. It really disgusts and hurts me that the middle and upper class, myself included, can separate themselves from what is going on, and simply go on with business as usual. What about the millions that don't have this luxury? If I was to share with you the ethnic hate crime messages that are being circulated right now, you'd be shocked and depressed. Just a couple of days ago a group of people were forced to randomly show their I.D.'s in a 'matatu'. One of the men was a Luo and another a Kisii. The matatu driver and conductors then drove them to an undisclosed location right here in Nairobi and ushered them into a blood filled room. The Kisii man was then raped, given a gun and told to shoot the Luo man, or die himself. The Kisii man is now at the Nairobi Women's Hospital being treated at the rape crisis center and undergoing serious therapy to prevent him from committing suicide for having killed an innocent man. This is just one story.
Anyway, if you've read this far - thank you for taking the time. I know we all have different opinions and I believe that we need the space to be able to express them so that we can heal and create enough space to come up with solid ideas for a way out of this mess.
We've got to appeal to the consciousness of the masses. If you've got any ideas you'd like to share, however small, big, radical, pacifist, artistic, scientific, religious, spiritual, musical, or whatever, please let me know. Just as long as it's not a blind call for peace without truth or justice.
In hope, solidarity and commitment.
open letter from Asian African poet/playwright Shailja Patel
Petition for Mwai Kibaki to step down
Kenyan Opposition Wins a Skirmish [NYT]
Post Election Chaos [NYT]
Kenya's Crisis [The Nation]