Kenya update : Sunday Salon

Kenya update

Over the past few weeks, we’ve received messages from our fellow writers and friends in Kenya about the conflicts rising from the recent presidential elections and want to share with you their perspectives. Please consider signing the on-line petition at the end calling for an urgent resolution to the electoral crisis:

Jan. 5th

Hi Nita and Caroline,

Nice of you guys to keep in touch. I’m sure you’ve seen alot of it on CNN. Its been pretty bad, elections gone bad, politicians gone crazy, Kenya in a mess. No one ever thought Kenya could end up this way. Its all about the elections, there was a bit of rigging going on and the tallying of presidential votes had irregularities. Kibaki, the past and present president had himself quickly sworn in. All this has made the opposition furious and their supporters are up in arms. Their first demand before any talks begin is that the president should resign. But the president will most likely not. Now the problem comes because each leader banked on their tribes to vote them in. So these supporters are now taking it personal with the supporters of their opponents (or perceived supporters ie. those of a different community) and thats why its going this way.It’s Raila’s vs Kibaki’s people.

But there’s a class issue involved. The middle class are up in arms against the violence, they feel nothing about who wins or looses, they are not killing their neighbours. Its the poorer classes that are fueling and involved in the violence- those that have nothing to lose, everything to gain. The anomie is a good opportunity for them to loot shops and steal from neighbours and everyone around.

Thats how its been so far, but i think the tension is going down. nothing has been solved so far but at least Nairobi has been almost normal today and yesterday. I think most of the writers you guys met last time are okay, havent heard any bad news yet.

Thats how it is for now. I’m not sure if there’s much you or even any of us can do; its these bonehead politicians that need to sit down and reolve the problem. But a zillion thanks for your offer. Thats the story for now i guess.




Jan. 6th

Hello, everyone. Greetings from Nairobi, Kenya. Thank you for your prayers and concern. Since all of you have asked how we are doing, I am sending this “global email message” as the best way to update you all.

We are struggling along here in Kenya. Prayers please for peace and harmony. The TV reports on BBC and CCN are accurate, but at times over-dramatized. Presently there are 250,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kenya mainly Kikuyu. John Allen’s article in NCR — “Catholics must walk carefully in Kenya ‘s political crisis” — is insightful. We are hopeful that a Coalition or Cross-Party Government (Government of National Unity) will emerge.

The mood in Nairobi seems to change from day to day. Fortunately the section where the Maryknoll Society House is located is calm. But post-election violence continues especially in the slum areas.

I am reminded of a recent New York Times article that said that multiparty democracy in Africa is messy and unpredictable. Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, said: “We prefer self government in danger to servitude in tranquility.”

Two personal notes. Here in Kenya I am working with the various members of the team of our new website:

Small Christian Communities Global Collaborative Website

The Kenyan members come from different ethnic groups (including Kikuyu and Luo) and different churches and religious denominations. We are trying to model unity, collaboration and solidarity.

On 16 January, 2008 I will begin teaching a course on “Small Christian Communities — A New Model of Church in Africa” at Hekima College, the Jesuit Theologate here in Nairobi. From Ecclesia in Africa — Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation on the First African Synod (14 September, 1995) I will use a quotation from Number 89 under Living (or Vital) Christian Communities: “Above all, these small communities are to be committed to living Christ’s love for everybody, a love which transcends the limits of natural solidarity of clans, tribes or other interest groups.” This is the challenge for us here in Kenya right now. The SCCs can be an agent for bringing the different ethnic groups together.

Peace, Joe Healey
Rev. Joseph G. Healey, M.M.
Maryknoll Society
P.O. Box 43058
00100 Nairobi, Kenya


Jan. 18th

Dear Friends,

I have just read and signed the online petition:

“Call for Urgent Resolution of Kenya Electoral Crisis”

hosted on the web by, the free online petition
service, at:

I personally agree with what this petition says, and I think you might
agree, too. If you can spare a moment, please take a look, and consider
signing yourself.


  1. mike on February 1st, 2008 8:35 am

    Dear Friends,
    Nice to see the overwhelming concern and support from the world over for Kenya. We pray and believe all will be well.
    Things have cooled down over last few days, despite the murder of another MP,but in a case that appears to be a crime of passion-as the police have explained and also residents of Eldoret,where he was shot seem to agree. The situation in Kenya is very likely to change for the better as fast as it happened for the worse.This will happen especiaally when the politicians agree to go to the rural and slum areas with a message of peace and explain that there is no benefit when this kind of thing happens. It is sad it has taken the opposition the deaths of so many Kenyans and destruction of properties for them to see sense and go back to their supporters to preach peace. Morever most Kenyans even in the lower levels of society have realized the term “majimbo” so much propagated by opposition prior to elections, is misleading,misunderstood and unworkable.They are also realizing Kenya has no natural resources other than their hardwork in the farms and informal industries and tourism. With a looming famine in the rift valley,jobs lost especially in the coast, and many people from Nyanza out of their jobs in Central Kenya,after the Kikuyus retaliated and chased the Luos and Kalenjins away. Many are slowly disowning the politicians and realizing they are only using them for their self interest.
    The happening in Kenya has a silver lining in that;framework for a new constitution is now likely to be agreed taking into account the often talked about equitable distribution and also strengthen institutions to prevent future problems.