Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Feverish ramblings

Hi.  I am sick.  But, not to worry, I do not have malaria (or typhoid, for that matter).  I really hope that I do not have man flu. Most likely it is a stomach bug from the copious amounts of nyama choma (aka street meat) I have been ingesting while on the road.  It is just so tasty.  But I am laid low, for the time being.

This is unfortunate, as I am missing an opportunity to travel to Meru - ICJ-Kenya is sending a group of people up there on a 'community outreach' mission - to help educate the community about human rights, and other legal matters.  They will be taking about 10,000 of these:

These are pocket-sized 'katibas' (Constitutions).  I had the pleasure of touring around Narok, and handing loads of these out to public institutions - a University, the District Commissioner, the Law Courts, and to various individuals.  It was an overwhelmingly positive experience.  People are extremely excited about getting their hands on these.  What a sharp distinction from Canada - I can imagine handing out pocket Charters to random people on the street, and hoping that they at least recycle them. At the same time, access to this information is so much more readily available to Canadians - internet access in Nairobi is of a high standard, but not in any of the other places I have been to since.

As a town, Narok is a pleasant, bustling little hub in the middle of the Great Rift Valley.  It has a steady stream of 'Mzungu Caravans', as it is a popular launching point for people that pay the money to go on a game drive in the maasai mara.  I'll have to wait until next time to see that, though.

On the ride back, I did get a chance to snap the "World's smallest Church" (although Google is telling me that this is not true).  Regardless, it is tiny.  It seats 2, uncomfortably.

It was built by Italian prisoners during World War 2.  The road they built is pretty good too.

Otherwise, here are some more thoughts on a few things I have notice over here:

  • The International Criminal Court Confirmation Hearings grind on.  Every second of the hearing is being captured on TV.  This is strange for many different reasons. most notably the ICC processes are quite different than normal Criminal Courts, which means that, for me, I'm not always entirely sure what is going on (and to be honest, sometimes the lawyers themselves seem unsure).  I can only imagine what the average Kenyan is getting from these broadcasts.  In fact, it is quite apparent that some of the Defendants are using the whole process for political gain (i.e. to enhance their presidential candidacy).  The ramifications for this confirmation hearing are MASSIVE.  If you don't know what 2008 PEV means, then learn about it here.  The 6 accused that are facing ICC charges are supposedly the 'most responsible' for a conflict that traces some of its roots all the way back to Kenya's independence.  However, the 2008 PEV was on a scale that has never been seen in Kenya's history - over 1,000 killed, over 600,000 internally displaced.  That second number is so big it is unfathomable.  And 'internally displaced' is a nice way of saying 'forcibly evicted from their own property'.  From my small experience with the TJRC hearings, there were countless abuses suffered by men, women and children arising out of the 2007 elections.  So, the question I have is, if any or all of the 6 are found guilty, is justice done?  It seems like this is a serious question for the majority of Kenyans.

    That's a picture of an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) Camp, above, where tens of thousands of people lived.
  • Kenyan statistics - the country is roughly the size of Texas and the population is between 34-40 million, depending on what Google seems to think is more relevant.  That means more people than live in Canada are packed into Texas.  And, honestly, when driving through Kenya, parts of it seem as empty as driving through the Prairies.  It is a fascinating landscape, especially in the Great Rift region.
  • Partially, one of the reasons I am focused on the 'African situation' in this post, if you can call it that, is because I'm reading this book.  It is a fantastic book.  If you're interested in Africa, you wonder about what you can do to help, or get involved, please read this book first.  As they say, pesa nyingi, shida nyingi.

Thanks for keeping up to date on my goings-on over here.  I have it on good authority that I will be joining a soccer team here in short order.  Stay posted for that!  Plus, I'll be getting better in no time.  Baadaye!

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