Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Battle in Kenya

In March of 2002, our family was blessed to travel to Kenya for two weeks while Dan did some work for the EPA and the Kenyan government assessing their air quality concerns. While we were there, we stayed in the Nairobi Holiday Inn. It's a large tropical compound in the city and is unlike any "hotel" in the U.S. with private patios on the rooms overlooking the pools. We went on two weekend safaris to see the African wildlife. The people were wonderful and I had great hopes to repeat the trip with all our children when they are in high school to see where their grandparents worked for so many years and where Dan went to high school at the Rift Valley Academy.

Currently, there is a situation in Kenya that requires our immediate attention and prayer. After the presidential election last month, there was some question from the Kenyans about the legitimacy of the outcome as the incumbent won after many voters supporting the opposition began to emerge. In the days afterward, the tempers of the government police were frayed and they began to disperse the protesters with tear gas. All this was happening in the Kenyan capitol of Nairobi. This week, the violence in Kenya has spread wide and there have been many killed in Kenya in the name of racial prejudice, some estimates are nearing 1000 dead in just over a month.

There are two main tribes in Kenya currently involved in the fighting. The largest and most wealthy is the Kikuyu, to which president Kibaki belongs. The second is the Luhya, the original protestors of the election. The police and army have been accused of unfair treatment of the Luhya protesters as the military is under the control of the president, a member of the Kikuyu. The result in the countryside has been a backlash of the Luhya against their Kikuyu neighbors. Unlike the wars waged in the west however, this violence is severe. Rivals attack with machete knives in brutal ambush with sweeping indiscrimination killing anyone within reach of their hand.

Kenya has been a haven in Africa for travel of tourists, missionaries and humanitarians for more than 30 years. It has become an example in the continent for other countries on how to successfully host the tourism industry. This coming war could very well end the economic freedom Kenyans have experienced during these past 3 decades. If the tourism industry collapses in Kenya, it will lead to an economic disaster for the country as a whole. Even people not directly involved in the industry will be effected as the entire economic stability of the nation is tied to tourism.

This current Reuters video report contains graphic pictures of dead and dying in Kenya. It is heartbreaking to see so much hatred on the streets I walked with my family only 6 years ago. I encourage you to watch and pray for ways that you can become involved in saving lives in Kenya. The religious demographic in Kenya is almost half Protestant and one quarter is Roman Catholic.

Our brothers in Africa need intercession through prayer now.

UPDATE Today, Jan 31, the U.S. has advised that Americans avoid travel to Kenya. Please read the Reuters article here.