A Phone Call from Kenya > by Izzy Brown

This piece was contributed by Izzy Brown of Australian hip hop group Combat Wombat. In 2007 Izzy travelled to Kenya to collaborate with hip hop artists Sinpare from Kenya, travelling through the country and recording work with various musicians, as well shooting a documentary about her experiences there. Following recent dramatic event in Kenya, Izzy contacted her friend Mwana Mulla to ask about what was happening. The following is a direct transcription of the phone call, which describes the feeling of danger and uncertainty on the streets of Nairobe.

On 27th of December 2007, following the announcement of the National election results, there have been riots, killing, raping and looting in Kenya. Mwana Milla is a 22 year old Kikuyu man who has lived in the ghetto of Kamgemi in Nairobi his entire life. Mwana Milla managed to achieve a year 10 education, he worked to send him self to school, one year working for one year of school. and now works as a cleaner in a fast food restaurant for less then $2 a day. English is his third language. He sees a better future for his country and people. He is an artist, poet and an intellectual and through a contact in Australia has been able to talk on his mobile phone and bring some personal perspective to the current situation in his homeland; one that is not being accurately reported by the media for the scope and intensity of the atrocities currently being perpetrated on the innocent people of this once relatively peaceful country.
This is what he said on the 3rd of January 2008 at 2am in the morning, eastern Australian time.

 
"I'm walking home, there is a curfew right now, you can not be out after 8 o'clock.
The crowds they are burning effigies of the former president, the people they are so afraid.
 
I don't know, can we talk about something else. I have not seen my sister. I don't know where she is, I have not seen her in a while.
 
The craziest thing happened yesterday a friend and I were going to a posh part of town called West Lands, when we were coming back something crazy happened, cars everywhere with smashed windows and stuff, tyres all over the highway. They blocked the road, we had to leave the car and run towards home. The Police on one side and the rioters on the other, the angry mob are throwing stones at the policemen and the policemen are throwing tear gas and rubber bullets. We were just caught in the cross fire. You see the car that we are in, the windows where smashed down, then we ran and ran and no matter how hard we ran, we were so small, coz I was running for my life, they were running against my life. We got to the police, this was the first time in my life that I have found a peaceful policeman , I saw a human being in the eyes of a riot policeman, they asked us 4 identification and then these guys just let us go. In the past things were so crazy that the police would just beat everybody up.
 
I am trying to explain how things have been the past few days. Today I am able to walk. I am walking round my hood Kamgemi, I feel hope that I am getting back the peace and freedom that I had. With the start of the fighting and curfews it took away our freedom of locomotion. This is my country I don't speak like a tribe; I am just a human being with rights. When they take away my rights I feel less than human, and I can't go out there and riot, I think those guys that are protesting you ask them and most of them don't even know. Hello, are you still there?"
 
"Yeah, I'm here, I'm listening"
 
"Right now I just want to go. I'm feeling so uneasy. I am walking home right now; I am 1km from home. Right now it's so crazy."
 
"Hello…….crrrr….Hello"
 
"They [the media] have actually censored so many parts, so they don't show how things are really like. If you were here you could see the situation with your own eyes. All the bodies. I feel there is something we need to do; us Kenyan's. We need to stop putting so much faith in personalities.
 
The politicians are sitting up there in their posh places, sipping on some liquor, champagne or something, celebrating for winning the election. And some are in mourning but for those who are working on the ground and the riot police, the sad thing is that they are going around looting houses, but they are attacking the poor; they are raping the women and children. Now I think we have so many cases at the Women's Hospital, which is the only place they deal with rape victims, it is over flowing.
I think if they are going to protest to create chaos, why are they doing it here, in the ghetto?
 
It is genocide in the making.
 
We are asking what democracy is; democracy is a fucked up word. It does not seem to be what it means. The people who use it to create a situation like today don't even know the meaning. I never thought I'd get to see such a thing with my very own eyes. I am afraid for my life and for my children if this continues tomorrow and the day after. I don't know what will become of us.
 
I have a dream to change our society, but if it continues like this my life will be contained and controlled by military life, whereby my life is determined by another man's bullet or the enemy's machete.  I thought Kenya was a peaceful country but the hatred is building up. The problem with us in Kenya is that the politics they use is tribal politics. They are using this tribal politics to win votes. We look around at the chaos and the killing that is happening; the ones to be killed are the Kikuyu. This tribe is throughout the country; they want to eject them. There is a place in the riff valley; I lost one of my grand father's there, they stabbed him to death; these are from the tribal clash I have been talking about. I feel something has to be done, not from the outside, but from the inside. Not necessarily by the government or by the people, but us all. We have the power to make peace. But you tell that to the people who are fighting and they will stab you.  They will do anything, but they don't even know what they are fighting for. Maybe this hate that has been growing for so long, now they have somewhere to direct it.  If like they were waiting to be provoked. So much rage, so much hate in the eyes of the people who are doing this. I don't want to stand as a Kikuyu, or someone who believes in this political party, I want to stand here as a human being. It does not give you the right to kill just because I belong to the tribe of the president. The president does not give a fuck about me, he does not know me. He would not even fell a pinch if they kill me. Let them go to his house so they can make a point with him, cause right now this is just tribal war whereby people like us will be forced to protect ourselves, but we are all one people. I believe I would fight for my country but now I don't know what I believe anymore. Am I talking gibberish?"
 
"No, you're coming through loud and clear."
 
"You know every time you kill somebody, stab somebody, in the name of a political party, it lacerates my heart, for what, bit by bit you will not have a heart any more. I could protest, but what would I be protesting about? Burning people's houses, to be caught in an internal refugee camp, for example in Kibera [the third largest ghetto in the world], they cut the phone lines, they cut the electricity, they sabotaged almost everything, they even burnt the market. One man was arrested, while trying to burn down electricity lines, he was asked why he was doing this, he said there is nothing else to do. He believe he is at a point where he had no choice, its life or death because wherever he is from there is no water, no food, no form of communication. They see all these posh things, like McDonald's and then you see people so desperate that they protest against something but they have no idea what the outcome is, they are feed so much lies they are blind about new leadership and revolution, they just follow. They don't have anything else to believe in. They will do anything just to add meaning in their lives. This capitalism has strained so many things, it has divided the people.
 
I tell you something funny, the Vice president stood up and the only thing he talked about was that the Shilling [Kenyan Shilling] is going down; it was all about money to him. He did not even talk about the people who are dying. Who are homeless and the people who are hungry, it was all about economics and protecting property. We have this constitution but people don't want to follow it no more. We will have to grow so much to entertain the idea of democracy. We need to add value to life, so that we can value other people's lives, so much evolution, I don't know.
 
I feel so lonely, even though I am around people who love me. I feel so desperate; I still have so much to live for. I am on the roof now to get better reception. I can see smoke, could of smoke in a certain place……..Oh my God, I think it is a house that they are burning. It's in a suburb called Kawwanyware, I can see it from here from in Kamyemi. I can see it its really sad, someone's property is being burned, it's not a white man's property, or a rich man's property, its mine and someone else's, someone else who live like me. Just a fellow human being like me. It's frustrating knowing that your home can be gone like that. From here I cant here the screams but I know somebody is screaming there. A big fire is happening, the smoke is big clouds now, I hope they don't come this way.
 
I have just an iron pole to protect myself with. I am hoping they want come tonight. According to rumors they are coming this way. I am exhibiting, what do you call it, fear. I am really scared. I am not really scared to die; I just don't want to kill somebody."
 
"Are you all Kikuyus at your house?"
 
"No we are mixed, Luo and Kikuyu, but you know when they come they will not even ask before they kill……………."
 
The line cut out
 
Today is the 4th of January and as this conversation is being transcribed from the tape recorded last night. We have just managed to establish contact with Mwana Milla and he is still alive…
 
On 27th of December 2007, following the announcement of the National election results, there have been riots, killing, raping and looting in Kenya. Mwana Milla is a 22 year old Kikuyu man who has lived in the ghetto of Kamgemi in Nairobi his entire life. Mwana Milla managed to achieve a year 10 education, he worked to send him self to school, one year working for one year of school. and now works as a cleaner in a fast food restaurant for less then $2 a day. English is his third language. He sees a better future for his country and people. He is an artist, poet and an intellectual and through a contact in Australia has been able to talk on his mobile phone and bring some personal perspective to the current situation in his homeland; one that is not being accurately reported by the media for the scope and intensity of the atrocities currently being perpetrated on the innocent people of this once relatively peaceful country.
This is what he said on the 3rd of January 2008 at 2am in the morning, eastern Australian time.
 
 
"I'm walking home, there is a curfew right now, you can not be out after 8 o'clock.
The crowds they are burning effigies of the former president, the people they are so afraid.
 
I don't know, can we talk about something else. I have not seen my sister. I don't know where she is, I have not seen her in a while.
 
The craziest thing happened yesterday a friend and I were going to a posh part of town called West Lands, when we were coming back something crazy happened, cars everywhere with smashed windows and stuff, tyres all over the highway. They blocked the road, we had to leave the car and run towards home. The Police on one side and the rioters on the other, the angry mob are throwing stones at the policemen and the policemen are throwing tear gas and rubber bullets. We were just caught in the cross fire. You see the car that we are in, the windows where smashed down, then we ran and ran and no matter how hard we ran, we were so small, coz I was running for my life, they were running against my life. We got to the police, this was the first time in my life that I have found a peaceful policeman , I saw a human being in the eyes of a riot policeman, they asked us 4 identification and then these guys just let us go. In the past things were so crazy that the police would just beat everybody up.
 
I am trying to explain how things have been the past few days. Today I am able to walk. I am walking round my hood Kamgemi, I feel hope that I am getting back the peace and freedom that I had. With the start of the fighting and curfews it took away our freedom of locomotion. This is my country I don't speak like a tribe; I am just a human being with rights. When they take away my rights I feel less than human, and I can't go out there and riot, I think those guys that are protesting you ask them and most of them don't even know. Hello, are you still there?"
 
"Yeah, I'm here, I'm listening"
 
"Right now I just want to go. I'm feeling so uneasy. I am walking home right now; I am 1km from home. Right now it's so crazy."
 
"Hello…….crrrr….Hello"
 
"They [the media] have actually censored so many parts, so they don't show how things are really like. If you were here you could see the situation with your own eyes. All the bodies. I feel there is something we need to do; us Kenyan's. We need to stop putting so much faith in personalities.
 
The politicians are sitting up there in their posh places, sipping on some liquor, champagne or something, celebrating for winning the election. And some are in mourning but for those who are working on the ground and the riot police, the sad thing is that they are going around looting houses, but they are attacking the poor; they are raping the women and children. Now I think we have so many cases at the Women's Hospital, which is the only place they deal with rape victims, it is over flowing.
I think if they are going to protest to create chaos, why are they doing it here, in the ghetto?
 
It is genocide in the making.
 
We are asking what democracy is; democracy is a fucked up word. It does not seem to be what it means. The people who use it to create a situation like today don't even know the meaning. I never thought I'd get to see such a thing with my very own eyes. I am afraid for my life and for my children if this continues tomorrow and the day after. I don't know what will become of us.
 
I have a dream to change our society, but if it continues like this my life will be contained and controlled by military life, whereby my life is determined by another man's bullet or the enemy's machete.  I thought Kenya was a peaceful country but the hatred is building up. The problem with us in Kenya is that the politics they use is tribal politics. They are using this tribal politics to win votes. We look around at the chaos and the killing that is happening; the ones to be killed are the Kikuyu. This tribe is throughout the country; they want to eject them. There is a place in the riff valley; I lost one of my grand father's there, they stabbed him to death; these are from the tribal clash I have been talking about. I feel something has to be done, not from the outside, but from the inside. Not necessarily by the government or by the people, but us all. We have the power to make peace. But you tell that to the people who are fighting and they will stab you.  They will do anything, but they don't even know what they are fighting for. Maybe this hate that has been growing for so long, now they have somewhere to direct it.  If like they were waiting to be provoked. So much rage, so much hate in the eyes of the people who are doing this. I don't want to stand as a Kikuyu, or someone who believes in this political party, I want to stand here as a human being. It does not give you the right to kill just because I belong to the tribe of the president. The president does not give a fuck about me, he does not know me. He would not even fell a pinch if they kill me. Let them go to his house so they can make a point with him, cause right now this is just tribal war whereby people like us will be forced to protect ourselves, but we are all one people. I believe I would fight for my country but now I don't know what I believe anymore. Am I talking gibberish?"
 
"No, you're coming through loud and clear."
 
"You know every time you kill somebody, stab somebody, in the name of a political party, it lacerates my heart, for what, bit by bit you will not have a heart any more. I could protest, but what would I be protesting about? Burning people's houses, to be caught in an internal refugee camp, for example in Kibera [the third largest ghetto in the world], they cut the phone lines, they cut the electricity, they sabotaged almost everything, they even burnt the market. One man was arrested, while trying to burn down electricity lines, he was asked why he was doing this, he said there is nothing else to do. He believe he is at a point where he had no choice, its life or death because wherever he is from there is no water, no food, no form of communication. They see all these posh things, like McDonald's and then you see people so desperate that they protest against something but they have no idea what the outcome is, they are feed so much lies they are blind about new leadership and revolution, they just follow. They don't have anything else to believe in. They will do anything just to add meaning in their lives. This capitalism has strained so many things, it has divided the people.
 
I tell you something funny, the Vice president stood up and the only thing he talked about was that the Shilling [Kenyan Shilling] is going down; it was all about money to him. He did not even talk about the people who are dying. Who are homeless and the people who are hungry, it was all about economics and protecting property. We have this constitution but people don't want to follow it no more. We will have to grow so much to entertain the idea of democracy. We need to add value to life, so that we can value other people's lives, so much evolution, I don't know.
 
I feel so lonely, even though I am around people who love me. I feel so desperate; I still have so much to live for. I am on the roof now to get better reception. I can see smoke, could of smoke in a certain place……..Oh my God, I think it is a house that they are burning. It's in a suburb called Kawwanyware, I can see it from here from in Kamyemi. I can see it its really sad, someone's property is being burned, it's not a white man's property, or a rich man's property, its mine and someone else's, someone else who live like me. Just a fellow human being like me. It's frustrating knowing that your home can be gone like that. From here I cant here the screams but I know somebody is screaming there. A big fire is happening, the smoke is big clouds now, I hope they don't come this way.
 
I have just an iron pole to protect myself with. I am hoping they want come tonight. According to rumors they are coming this way. I am exhibiting, what do you call it, fear. I am really scared. I am not really scared to die; I just don't want to kill somebody."
 
"Are you all Kikuyus at your house?"
 
"No we are mixed, Luo and Kikuyu, but you know when they come they will not even ask before they kill……………."
 
The line cut out
 
Today is the 4th of January and as this conversation is being transcribed from the tape recorded last night. We have just managed to establish contact with Mwana Milla and he is still alive…
 

For more information contact Izzy by email at hmmmdodgy(a)hotmail.com
or check out www.myspace.com/izzylabrat for updates..

Peace.