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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 21:01 GMT
'We only have stones'
As fresh political violence erupts in Kenya, the BBC News website hears the views on the crisis of two ordinary Kenyans from different sides of the track.


Kenyan riot police walk towards a barricade set up by supporters of Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga in a road in the Kibera slum
Kenya's police have banned all public protests

I threw stones at the police. Many, many actually.

In return they fired live shots into the air as some started approaching us and then others began gassing us.

Even though there were so many of us the live bullets are still a worry. They should aim up but they don't - they aim right at us.

I was not frightened.

When you are faced with the reality of life, when it comes to this, you can't be afraid, not now.

Guns, shields and batons

What frightens me is that I'll die of hunger.

We should be allowed to express our feelings as citizens. We don't need the police to come and invade our lives and our basic needs.

They have arms and are all dressed up in combat gear wearing their red berets. I don't know a lot about guns but I think the ones they have are AK-47s. The ones who don't have guns, have shields. Some of them have batons.

A protester taunts a policeman in Kisumu on 16 January
Someone managed to set fire to a few tyres between us the crowd and the police. They were blazing

All we have is stones. They have power. No-one even listens to us.

Shots, smoke and gas

My anger is really being driven by what the government is saying. They are ignoring the plight of us poor and unemployed.

It was after midday when some protestors rolling tyres came to gather with us. In Kibera are a lot of old, broken-down cars are left. The protestors had taken them off from these discarded vehicles - they had not looted to get them.

We set them on fire in the middle of the road.

All the time singing and dancing and chanting in Swahili: 'No [opposition leader] Raila [Odinga], no peace! We want our own rights! No justice, no peace!'

The air around us was filled with gun shots, smoke and gas - black smoke from the tyres and whiteness from the tear gas.

My eyes were burning really badly and when my eyes got in contact with the gas, tears definitely came out. A lot of tears.


By now, we were on the main road heading out of Kibera. It is double-laned but there were so many of us that we covered the road and for quite a long stretch.

It is really unfortunate to see our beautiful homeland going through what its neighbours have gone through
Omari, Kenyan in US

At times the paramilitary police were less than 20m away and on either side of us... we were more or less surrounded.

This is when many of us began thinking it was wise not to confront them. We left out of fear.

Where I was, no-one was shot today. Many were hurt though, mostly during the times of no order and the stampedes.

I didn't like protesting. It is a frustration, anger. It is because of discrimination.

And it is not a recent thing - it is historical. This election was just a kindle.


Riot police patrolling Nairobi
Business is bad in Nairobi as the political crisis continues

I am in my office. I am working. I am carrying on with my life. It is my own personal protest.

I am protesting against my country's destruction for the sake of one person's desire to be in power.

I will not deny that I voted for Kibaki. I am a Kikuyu.

But I did not vote for him because he is a Kikuyu, but because I felt he had done a good job.

'Country divided'

As far as the election result goes, I don't think we will ever know the true number. And I don't think going back and recounting will solve the issue.

Both of them [President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga] stole votes - they are both guilty of that crime. It is just that one of them has a better propaganda machine than the other.

What I am trying to say is that we can't look back - we have to go forward.

The Kikuyu were targeted first but now the Kikuyu are retaliating. It is not right. And the saddest part of it all is that our country is now divided.

I guess you would consider me a middle-upper class Kenyan, and for people like me, our problem at the moment is the inconvenience.

We are not hungry. We are safe in our houses.

Hurting the people

It is the common man who is suffering because of this; because of the violence and the mass protests and the calls to disrupt business life.

And when businesses fail, it is the common man who is going to lose his job, he is the one who is going to be unsafe in the slums and his children will not be able to go to school.

Raila [Odinga] is actually hurting the very people that he is claiming to be fighting for.

The crisis has highlighted the poverty and the disillusionment among Kenyans but the solution is not to fight or turn against each other. This is a long-term problem that needs to be solved but it can't be sorted out when everyone is fighting.


Personally the situation is affecting me in many ways: I don't have as many customers coming in and so business is bad.

Paramilitary policeman putting out burning tyres
I send my staff home early. But still I worry until I see them again the next morning

As is security - I don't feel safe driving around. And I can't plan for anything. I can't arrange a meeting for tomorrow because no-one knows what will happen tomorrow.

It has affected friendships, especially here in Nairobi because our city is so cosmopolitan.

Friends of mine who are not Kikuyu... it never used to factor in our friendship but now it is making me wonder: what do they think of me? Maybe they no longer consider themselves to be a friend of mine?

It is awful.

And then I have my staff to worry about. How will they get home now that public transport is not running? Will they be safe walking? Will they get through the roadblocks? I send everyone home early. But still I worry until I see them again the next morning.

I am fed up with everything.

And I am not alone. There are a lot of us who are actually fed up with this.

Yes, we all know that a great wrong has been done but we just want our lives back to normal.

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