Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Kenya's Elections

Yesterday I drove to my local elementary school, picked up a ballot, cast my votes for governor, state senator and a couple of millage issues, got my, “I voted” sticker and drove home.  I took my children with me, as I always do, to show them how the process works.  I never once feared for our safety.

That’s not how many Kenyans will feel today as they head to the polls.

Three years ago after an election in Kenya, 1,000 people were killed in tribal violence.  Thousands of people were forced from their homes and placed in camps for internally displaced persons (IDP).  Scores who sought refuge in the IDP camps are still there, three years later.  And today, as they vote on a new constitution, many fear more hostility will result.

An IDP camp in the Rift Valley
(photo by Angela Freed)
I don’t pretend to grasp the full implications of what’s going on.  Dan, my friend who lives there, gave us a bit of run-down of what’s going on, but the issues are complex.  Imagine starting America today, not with a group of people from the same basic background but with folks from over 50 tribes, each with their own language and unique heritage and concerns. 

It seemed a bit crazy to me – I mean, hasn’t Kenya been around forever?  Yes, Dan said, but only in the last 40 years has it gained its independence.  (I obviously don’t know my Kenyan history.) They held their first presidential elections two years before Sean was born.  I know I joke about how old he is, but he’s not that old.  And I had to remember that Jamestown was settled in 1607, but it took another 180 years before we adopted our Constitution.

I realize by the time you read this the polls in Kenya will be closed.  But election results, like lots of things in Kenya, don’t come in quickly, so there is still time to pray for a peaceful resolution.  And time to pray for Dan, Nancy, their children and all the other missionaries working in Kenya who may find themselves in danger for the sake of the Kingdom.