An eager young democrat sharpens his voting credentials.
News that a Kikuyu – the tribe to which Kibaki belongs – had been lynched by one of Raila’s Luo tribesmen brought hundreds of angry youths into the streets of Dagoretti.
As we drove slowly through the crowd, our vehicle was hijacked for a joyride by rioters looking for a victim.
On Sunday, scores of exhausted reporters gathered at the Kenya International Conference Center to hear what Electoral Commission chairman Samuel Kivuitu finally had to say.
Rumours had flown all day that Mr. Kivuitu, smiling in the middle, would announce Kibaki’s victory. By now it was clear that this would produce a violent reaction, and journalists conjectured that his announcement would immediately be followed by a declaration of emergency rule.
But Raila Odinga, closest to the camera, interrupted the press conference by producing an electoral official who declared he’d witnessed fraud on a grand scale. Thus discredited, Mr. Kivuitu retired to a private room to announce Kibaki’s victory in peace and quiet. The announcement was broadcast on the state TV station, KBC, which had already been widely condemned for its pro-Kibaki bias.
By the time Kibaki was being sworn in at State House, fireballs were erupting over the slums as furious residents torched homes, businesses, gas stations, and anything else they could put a match to. Here in Kibera, some of them were having a conspicuously good time.
“No Raila, no peace,” was the universal chant.
At this point I was regretting my decision to gauge the mood of the people.
Deeper into Kibera where the fires hadn’t yet reached, wary residents armed themselves and prepared for the worst.
Chris Ojow, a colleague who grew up in Kibera, was my guide throughout the night. When gunshots started crackling in the direction we’d come from, he found us a safe route out of Kibera that ended at Whispers Pub.
The following day, the extent of the damage became visible. Reports started pouring in that every city, town and village in the country had been torn apart by violence.
Raila Odinga tried to hold a rally in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, at which he intended to declare himself president. But riot police sealed off not just the park, but the entire downtown core, frustrating the attempt.