Arts | Politics | Economy | Education & Sciences17 Apr 2014
Redactie AS Magazine

Experience of Viafrica staff member in Kenya on last elections
22 July 2008

Viafrica Kenya is represented by three staff members: Peter Gitau, David Kimani and Kennedy Chege. Kennedy works with Viafrica since the beginning of 2007 as a computer technician. In order to get this job, he moved from his home city, Nairobi, to Kisii in the Western part of Kenya. This is where Viafrica had established its office. His experiences with the Kisii surroundings had been very positive so far, but the post-election violence that occurred after the December 2007 elections has put many things in a different daylight. This is Kennedy's story.
 
Kenya holds its Presidential election every five years. Last years election as not expected to be any different from others in the past. During the presidential campaign the Kisii team was still in Kisii which lies on the western part of the country.
Everything was going on as usual; we were expecting a container with computers to arrive around the 3rd week of December.The team had just taken a few days rest after traveling to Tanzania to meet with the IT staffing Benny and Jan. Due to small complications and the Christmas break the container was delayed at the Mombasa port and the transportation was suspended to a later date. In case it was to be transported sooner than expected two of as were to travel to Kisii and arrange for the off loading and packing of the computers. None of that happened so the team traveled half-December to Nairobi for the Festive holiday.

I was happy to be home, Christmas was ok had a few friends come over for a small partying. On 27th of December 2007 like any other law abiding citizen I took it my duty to cast my first Presidential vote. Something I regret doing.

That day I was awoken at 4am by whistles and shouts of young boys calling my Name out loud “Kennedy” “Kennedy” “wake up and vote”. The shouting went on around the village till most people were up. On an empty stomach I made it to the polling station within 30 minutes. The queues were long and consisted of young people like me which made me feel proud about my first vote. The process toke me around four hours which were made unbearable by the constant drizzling.
That one vote made a difference in the country as a whole: it was a vote that left the country on a blink of civil war.

The voting went on well till it come to the tarring of the presidential vote. That is when the unexpected happened. The current president was sworn in and things changed completely. Communities living outside their ancestral land mostly those belonging to the president tribe, were been kicked out using all cruel means. That happened mainly in the Rift valley and western region of the country. Family members I had not seen in years were flocking in, others traveled day and night in such of safe heaven be it in police station, prison or churches. No place was safe apart from your ancestral land among your community.

During the whole ordeal the country was at a stand still. Movement was restricted which meant no transport, no food in the shops no airtime vouchers to make a phone call {communication was cut short}. Tension was high. Most of the time was spent indoors. Available food was mainly vegetables that are grown within the neighborhood.

Fear started clipping in as insecurity was heading towards my village. Young men took guard at major entry points to the village day and night for security reasons. Recruitment by the ruthless Mungiki sector of young boys was taking place nearby. Failure to join the sector came with consequences. Since I belong to the Kikuyu community chances of forcing me to join the sector were high. My life was changing. My job meant nothing, all that rung in my head was how to survive in the country that is no more. The only bulletin that showed truly what was happening was Aljazeera, local channels were being monitored by the government.
Things eased when the former United Nations Secretary Kofi Anan started negotiation talks for peace and the way forward for Kenya.

We had expected to travel to Kisii in January before all the madness started, but now it was impossible.
The roads were impassable mainly in the Rift valley region that cuts across the country and our only route to Kisii. The communities around Kisii were still at war with the Kisii people. Police escort was the only way one could get to Kisii. The Kisii office was still safe nothing was damaged. With the help of friends in the Kisii-community, the container with computers arrived in Kisii safe - police escort was required for such movement.
After all hectic in January David and me traveled to Tanzania to assist the Moshi-office. Later, in February we followed a training there as well on the server platform together with Peter and two other Kenyans from an organization called Nairobits. David and Peter took a flight to Kisii in March to assess the situation over there. I was still in Tanzania since there was little to do in Nairobi for the three of us.
For the purpose of expanding Viafrica decided to move to Nairobi which is more cosmopolitan with less tribal tensions and offer more chances for growth. But that was after implementing nine schools in Kisii in April. Most of the schools that were implemented are near the border of Kisii people and other communities. Although we are still in a good relationship with the headmasters in Kisii, in the Kisii environment we did notice a difference from before and took several safety measures such as always when traveling outside Kisii, visiting the school together with the local headmaster.

I am sad to leave Kisii but we have made agreements with the headmasters to come back in October for a training and computer maintenance to make sure that all computers are running for the national exams in November.
 
Redactie AS Magazine
 
Viafrica foundation supports organisations in Africa with the use and administration of ICT. The starting point for all projects is independent legitimacy in the local context.
Viafrica focuses on the local middle class, the underlying idea is that they will be the drive for future developments.

Check here for the Viafrica website


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Sites for this column:
Viafrica
http://www.viafrica.org

Kennedy Chege
http://www.viafrica.org/employees/index/staff/45/?page=1&


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