22 June 2009

O Day!

Our good friend, Katie O’Dea, who has been in Nigeria for the past five months has arrived in Kenya today.  She will be joining us out here in Malava for the remainder of the year and will be working at an orphanage in Kakamega.  Sue is in Nairobi to greet here and they will be making their way back to Malava on Thursday after a short orientation.

In the middle of the day, the St Julie Centre was met with a loud blast.  Angela emerged from the therapy room and announced, “It’s Osama!”  I was playing with Johnstone at the time, having a pass with the soccer ball and was alarmingly unmoved by the explosion.  Angela went out to examine what happened and I looked out the window to see people going about their business.  Five minutes later, she returned saying, “one of those birds with big mouths crashed into the centre.”  The offender was a hornbill.  Alas, he was gone by the time I went to look.  For some reason, the sound did not even give me cause to flinch.  God forbid, if something catastrophic had occurred, I would have endured it while playing soccer.

Sylvia is six.  She has downs syndrome.  She speaks, but I am unable to understand a single word she utters.  I am unable to understand English child-speak, Swahili I have no chance.  She was playing with a plastic volley ball and I was teasing her by poking the ball.  Un-amused by my antics, she cried out an unintelligible Swahili phrase.  Neto was kind enough to translate saying, “she said she is going to beat you.”  My first threat from a child came via Sylvia this morning.  She warmed up to me by the end of the day, but that was not without a great scream when I picked up the ball as it rolled away from her in an attempt to provide help.

***I will denote this section with stars because it may be worth skipping if you do not want to hear my semi-rant based on Republican Senators statements concerning Iran***

"If America stands for democracy and all of these demonstrations are going on in Tehran and other cities over there, and people don't think that we really care, then obviously they're going to question, 'do we really believe in our principles?'" Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa

"I'd like to see the president be stronger than he has been, although I appreciate the comments that he made yesterday.  I think we ought to have America lead."  Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz

"The president of the United States is supposed to lead the free world, not follow it. He's been timid and passive more than I would like." Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C

From the AP article HERE

For some reason, a few of our senators are stuck in a dangerous and outdated mentality concerning foreign policy.  Democracy is the battle cry for some who always seem to view IR with horse blinders.  Why has there been a call for invasion/action in Iran but nothing was said concerning Kenya?  This nation erupted into complete violence due to stolen elections and the US was nowhere to be found.  The list continues as violence escalates in Somalia, a coup took place in Madagascar just a few months ago and an election was stolen in Zimbabwe.  ‘Democracy’ has been absent from all occasions and various outcomes have resulted.  Kenya saw violence before a weak power sharing agreement.  Zimbabwe took a year for an agreement to be met, in the mean time its currency saw Post WWI Germany hyperinflation and a cholera outbreak.  Madagascar has remained much the same, with minor sanctions. 

Living in Kenya has given me the perspective of how US actions can severely affect the way that we are viewed as a nation and as people.  I have spoken with Kenyans who have praised and condemned our actions in Iraq.  Many are still excited to see a Kenyan as our president, but harbor prejudices about Americans.  The affect upon myself has been minimal, I have not been cast out because I am American.  However, the actions of our government are seen as a direct reflection on the American public.  We celebrate democracy so much that the international community believes each American takes part in every decision by the government.

Then statements are cast in vague manners about “leading” and not “following.”  Who are we following Senator McCain?  Is not diplomacy a form of action and leadership.  Does ‘leading’ mean leading the country into war?  If that is the case I believe the past two elections have been a referendum on the ‘Bush Doctrine.’  I have digressed from my reason for commenting.  It is dangerous to have vocal commentaries for selective instances while using generalizations.  What is it about Iran that makes it more dire than Darfur?  Kenya has alarmist MP’s who call for war over a small island that is filled with whore houses and bars.  The newspapers are filled with these comments and the people scoff at such declarations.  Kenya is the prime example of the boy-who-cried-wolf-syndrome.  They have no faith in their government because it deals backhandedly and speaks in fear. 

We lived through identical governance post 9/11 until this year.  However, there are still some in congress who are clinging on to the idea that it is best to remain alarmist.  Speak in generalities, is the mantra.  Use any of the following: democracy, national security, terrorists, Osama Bin Laden, nuclear weapons, 9/11, enhanced interrogation (torture for all who do not speak Cheney), bomb, freedom, democracy a bit more and finish with something like “God bless America.”  Fear-mongering has jaded the Kenyan public and it indifference will infect Americans.

***End of general thoughts.  My thoughts are not entirely collected at the moment, but I could not pass on saying something.