March 5, 2013


Today feels simultaneously like the day after and like the day before.  But I suppose that's entirely appropriate.  It is, after all, March 5 in Kenya.

For months people have been talking about preparations for the March 4 elections: stocking up on food and water or making plans to leave the country.  Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, U.S.A... folks planned working-vacation emigrations all over the world.  Almost all of my American colleagues who were in Nairobi have left.

I'm still here.  And I've learned that I am terrible at stocking a bunker in case of social strife.  If there's a real lock-down situation, I'll probably regret not buying more canned vegetables and frozen foods.  But I don't like canned foods, and I don't want to be stuck with cupboards of them when everything remains peaceful.  I did my best to bulk-up my kitchen reserves last week (I risked a few post-apocalyptic bread isles) though I'm not sure my bounty is really emergency-ready.

Poor solitary loaves... picked last, just like an unfortunate high school gym class

Interestingly, there was also a run on mini-Toblerones of both light and dark varieties

Things I have that would be helpful in an emergency:
- Bottled water
- 1 can of lentil soup
- 2 cans of chick peas
- A few nuts (raw almonds and honey-coated cashews)
- A bit of dried fruit (apricots and pineapples)
- A half box of cereal
- Some frozen beet salad I made a few weeks ago

Things that would be helpful as long as there is still water and/or electricity to cook them:
- Rice
- Dried lentils
- Dried kidney beans
- 1/2 bag of pasta
- 11 eggs
- 5 frozen empanadas I made a few weeks ago

Things that are not at all helpful in a lock-down:
- Fresh fruit and produce (tomatoes, kale, mango, papaya, lime)
- Bread
- Ingredients for baking cookies
- 12 different kinds of tea (yes 12)
- Emergency chocolate
- Refrigerated leftovers from dinner last weekend
- 2 bottles of wine

I wasn't kidding.

So everyone was waiting for March 4, and now it's March 5 and we're all still waiting.  Waiting for the results to be tallied; waiting to find out if the invalid votes will be counted in the denominator (which will influence the percentages that influence the likelihood of a run-off); waiting to see if the supporters of the losing candidate will accept the results or will take to the streets like 2007.

It's a day of eerie silence.  There's no public holiday, but the roads are deserted and many people have stayed home from work.  Occasionally, I vary faintly hear something that sounds like chanting.  One of my co-workers likened it to the rapture-- those of us out and about are the unfortunate minority left behind.  To me, it feels like the calm before the storm, where the storm may or may not blow out to sea and leave everyone alone, safe and dry.

At first, there wasn't much international coverage of these elections, and then when the coverage came, it was predominantly negative.  Many Kenyans were upset at the media for one-sided portrayals of violence with which the majority of people disavow.  Then, in true form, they got moxie (mock-sy) on their Face-Twitter-nets.

Now, today, we just wait for tomorrow.

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