Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Getting Back On Track After The Chaos

For those of us who were either too young or were not yet born by 1982, what happened after last year's general elections was the closest we have seen of anarchy in Kenya. For close to 3 weeks we could not leave our houses. And due to the live media ban, there was no local news either. We watched our country on CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera and could not believe what was happening.

The whole thing made me realize just how much we take things for granted. By the end of the second week of fighting, some of my food supplies were finished. All the nearby shops and kiosks were turned upside down and looted. I could have given anything to have some green colour on my plate. I missed the simplicity of walking to mama mboga’s and getting my regular fix of green vegetables. In normal circumstances you may want something but you don’t have the money. This was reversed during the clashes. I had cash for a bunch of kale and other vegetables but there were none around. Such irony.

It was just after the Christmas celebrations and one thing I had in plenty was beef and goat meat which was meant for the New Year celebrations that never were. At some point we ate meat for 4 days straight lunch and dinner. By the fifth day, I did not even want to see a live goat walking or hear a meeeeh from the neighboring compound. I was done with meat. Luckily things had cooled down and the market was open though with very few traders. A head of cabbage was going for Kshs.500 bob! A small bunch of kale which could not feed 2 people was going for Kshs.50 bob.

To compound my woes, a loved one was admitted in hospital on the other side of town. She had started feeling unwell a few days earlier and we tried to medicate at home. On the eve of the New Year, when political tension was probably at it’s worst, it became apparent that we had to reach a hospital. It was 3.00 in the night. The nearest hospital we visited was closed due to the chaos and the only other option was across town. From home all the way to the hospital about 5 Kilometers away, there was no other vehicle on the road. Very different from past New Year’s eves when the town, pubs and restaurants are so packed.

At the hospital there was an option to either treat and discharge or admit. We opted for admission without a second thought. It was too risky to go back home with her not knowing whether the medication would work. There was a shortage of staff due to the transport crunch but still the hospital was much safer. The next day and the next the clashes were so bad I could not make it to hospital to see my patient. That was a good 2 days with not visitors for her. But she soon got better and came home.

With all the nearby shops looted to the last sweet, the only place to go shopping was Nakumatt. But the queues there meant being out of the house for a minimum of 4-5 hours and I was not about to risk that. In those days, you never knew whether the 1 or 4 Oclock news could trigger more fighting. So it was back home empty handed. Luckily we had the basics like sugar, tea, coffee, maize meal, wheat flour and rice. There was no milk and vegetables were scarce.

Those were tough times but all that is over now and we thank God for that.


Anonymous said...

Al Jazeera was not in existence in 1982...

Anonymous said...

Excuse my age-addled brain, for a moment I thought you were writing about the events in Kenya in 1982. Otherwise, interesting article...

Shiko-Msa said...

Excused anon. I've made a small correction to make it clearer.

Acolyte said...

It's always good when someone remembers since we have collective short memories when it comes to such matters.

Mcheku said...

I concur with the anonymous reader this is a great article. I remember those dark days and am thankful its over. The only thing I can say about its ending is Amen!

Anonymous said...

It's not ... age-addled .... The paragraph is poorly-composed. It correctly /still/ doesn't jive

Anonymous said...


those were indeed trying times

on a light note

its either Kshs.50 or 50 bob,

just like you can't have $ 5 bucks

sorry... not bashing you... just passing thru' ....

niaje mcheku?


BP ONE said...

Shiko….. Those were dark days…..really dark days...I pray that it does not visit us again, our political leaders seem never to learn from History. I think we have no much option but to pray hard with our hearts
God of all creation,
Bless this land and nation.
Justice be our shield and defender,
May we dwell in unity
Peace and liberty.
Plenty be found within our borders.

Shiko-Msa said...

Amen to that BP.

Kirima said...

I hope lessons have been learnt and that we never have to experience that ever again.