Never Forget- The Timeline
I have a strange fatigue in my bones and a heaviness in my heart. Filing this column has taken me the better part of two days. Somehow, every January and February since 2008 finds me in the same place, praying and wondering. A certain churning in my belly makes me recall the time-line that got us to this day, where once again we will be glued to an instrument of information that will deliver the news from The Hague.
In case you have forgotten (I don’t know how, unless you had a serious knock on the head) I wish to remind you why we will be glued to our radios and television screens later on today.
Dec 27 2007 – We went to the polling station to elect our various MPs, councilors and of course cast the all important vote for President. The mood was upbeat, as we waited in line to cast our votes. We left the polling stations proudly displaying our finger smeared with ink showing that we had spoken.
Dec 28 2007 – We’re at work to release election results to the public after conferring with ECK who were sat at KICC. The day ends without a clear outcome of the elections.
Dec 29 2007 10:00am – We’re back at work. The sms screen is alive. Texts confirm what we had heard before. We can’t air those details, so on the news updates, we go with the words “heightened tension” in parts of Nairobi and Kisumu.
11:00am – Looks like the “heightened tension” is getting out of hand. By mid-day, the reports that come into the newsroom are imaginable. There’s talk of gangs and killings and burning homes – but we stick to the script – “heightened tension”.
12:30pm – Reality begins to dawn. There’s concern that soon the international news networks will start to show the footage from the “tension” areas – Kenyans will find out. All the while Kivuitu is acting like a court jester at KICC.
01:00pm – The reports are coming in faster; the “tension” seems to be have taken on a new dimension. We’re told NTV will begin airing footage of the “tension” and we watch our screens and wait. Kivuitu still doing slap-stick comedy.
02:00pm –The images of a Kenya I don’t know and can’t recognise are on most TV channels (not all). We are still hoping it will die-down and we will all come back to our senses. Election results from ECK are barely coming through. Paul Ilado is at KICC and seems shocked and even a little bemused that Kivuitu doesn’t either know or care that the country is in flames – literally.
Later that afternoon, Kivuitu says no more results will be released that day and tells everyone to go home.
Dec 30 2007:11am - We have been at work and in studio for about two hours now, still nothing promising from ECK. Nothing coming from KICC makes sense. The rumours of “stealing” the election are rife and the heightened tension mutates into something else.
11:15am- Raila Odinga addresses the press and asks ECK to release the verdict of the presidential election. He also asks Kenyans to follow the rule of law and maintain peace across the country.
11:30am- According to KTN, security has been beefed up in Kisumu town in reaction to yesterday's violence. Footage shows a ghost town.
01:51 pm -(from Ramah Nyang’s updates to studio, that I have to this very day)
Raila has asked that the entire presidential vote count is repeated nationwide. He also says that he does not trust the ECK audit conducted last night, and urged ECK to display everything to the whole country via the media. Transparency, Raila says, will ensure that Kenya does not end up in chaos. He accused ECK of being influenced by the Kibaki government.
02:23 pm -Ruto addresses the press in reaction to last night's agreement with ECK. He says that there has been no documentation for a number of constituencies (48) to establish that the computer generated reports are real numbers. Ruto goes on to demonstrate that the constituency numbers (on the 16a form) are different from those reported by ECK. It’s the first time in my life that I had ever heard of form 16a.
03:23pm- Reports come in on the drama in Juja. Juja-- total votes 85,000 for parliamentary votes, however, there are 100,000 votes for the presidential. Ruto says, "it is difficult to believe that 15,000 people walked away without voting for their member of parliament."
ODM presidential numbers: Raila 4,215,437, Kibaki 3,748,261
03:30pm - More noise from politicians from both PNU and ODM. Radull’s news flash to me says “Kibwana has asked ODM to take it to court”.
04:21pm -Kivuitu finally shows up to the press conference at KICC. He begins by saying that he has received the results of four constituencies: Molo, Turkana Central, Kajiado North... . As he reads the results, there is lot of noise from the audience (the camera moves to the ODM section.) As we watch, security is brought in and people are kicked out. It is quite chaotic in there.
04:30pm – Unable to speak, get a word in between arguments and counter-arguments from Karua, Kombo, Kivutha, Kimunya and Ruto …eventually, Kivuitu and the rest of the commissioners walk out amid tight security.
Report from Paul Ilado at KICC says it looks like he has gone into another room where he will continue the meeting.
04:48pm – My hands are shaking, stomach is turning, can’t leave the studio.
05:00pm- Raila addresses the nation and international community. The people of Kenya have spoken. Do not cheat Kenyans. The figures that the commission has given are fraudulent.
Ruto: It is important for all to realise that we are not joking. We made a statement about doctored results. Here is a document signed by the returning officer, who is in the room and is willing to testify. The commission is unwilling to listen to its own people.
05:06pm - Soon after the ODM press conference, there is a power blackout at the KICC. The shock is almost too much to bear. I can’t find Ilado for a few minutes. Then he calls. Tells me that Kivuitu will announce the winner, but only KBC will screen it. We switch channels in studio...
05:22pm- Cardinal Njue: calls for peace and asks Kenyans not to lose hope. He especially appealed to the youth (he keeps referring to the violence in Kisumu) to refrain from violence and looting.
05:37pm – The GSU is seen escorting members of the press and observers out of KICC. According to KTN, preparations are underway to announce the presidential results. There is no indication if the press or observers will be present for this announcement.
05:55pm- Or there about. Live On Citizen TV from Statehouse. Kibaki is sworn in as President and Kenya Burns. Kenya bleeds.
What unfolded that night and for the next two months is the reason we will be glued to our TV screens and radio all of today. That’s what we need to focus on – this time-line. We can’t for a minute lose sight of why we are here today.
Kenya burnt, children were killed, women were raped, hundreds of thousands lost everything and another similar number remain homeless - today. My prayer and my plea is that we focus on the real events and the real outcomes and not get drawn into the stupidity, selfishness and myopia of a few greedy, self important, clearly panicky politicians.
Yes, I appreciate that misery loves company, but let they who are miserable from today’s pronouncements huddle together, we shouldn’t let ourselves get drawn into their madness. After all, we didn’t benefit from the spoils either. Looking back over the last few years, they have had a fabulous life and a jolly good ride complete with parties and new rides and helicopters to boot. The healing must begin and if it takes some very bitter medicine, then so be it. God be with each and everyone of us and God Bless Kenya.