Monday, 11 February 2008

Sobering thoughts

I went out with some friends on Friday night, including two dudes from Kenya - one that has been at UCT for a while, and one that has just arrived (though he has lived in SA for seven years). Anyway, we had a really great time, but this post is not about that (despite its beginnings).

Specifically, this is just to comment on the fact that what you read is true - Kenya is really fucked up. My friend, Bob, was just there for a little over a month, trying to get his wife and children out of there. Specifically because he and his wife are of different ethnicities, though, it was dangerous for them to be together, I think - the ethnic fighting is horrendous. The two dudes who we were drinking with on Friday were also from different tribes, and they said if they were living there, they would be fighting right now.

I don't know, it's just that news from across the world feels so detached from reality, and I sometimes wonder how widespread is the violence that gets reported. For example, a recent graduate student here is from Sudan, but from the capital - Khartoum - as opposed to Darfur, which is what you constantly hear about in the news. And according to him, though the situation is indeed dire in Darfur, Khartoum is really not particularly bad, which I was surprised to hear. This I contrast with information from my Kenya - Bob is from the capital, Nairobi, and he says that Nairobi is also significantly screwed, as in it was dangerous for him to go out. Although it does sound like outside of the cities are even worse - he told me that you just can't drive between cities right now, because chances are almost 100% that you will be stopped by wandering rioters (who will naturally be of a rival ethnic group) who will drag you out of your car and kill you. Full stop. That is fucked up. This is the country which was completely unique in Eastern Africa (and fairly unique in all Africa) in being amazingly stable for the past 40 years - with one of the best and most stable economies in all of Africa.

So this is dedicated to my best wishes for Bob's family, that they will be able to move here quickly and safely. Not to mention just the hope that the violence subsides quickly and peace soon restored.

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