For many Minnesotans, perhaps, Kenya is just another African country coming apart at the seams (See post on Kenya blogs). Imagine how we would feel, however, if we were a half a planet away from the United States, watching images of a massacre in a Lutheran church because a president rigged an election, and on the last phone call home, your mother told you she was out of food.
That’s what it’s like today to be a Kenyan in Minnesota.
About 100 of them gathered amidst the disinterest of most reporters at the Capitol today to sing their home country’s national anthem and do whatever they could to ask for the international community’s help to make the bloodshed stop.
“This is Kenya; this isn’t some godforsaken country,” pleaded Siyad Abdullahi, the rally’s organizer.
Behind the politics of it all, however, is a personal struggle.
“We cry every night,” said Hercules Otieno, who held up a blank sign to protest the news blackout from Kenya. (Listen – mp3)
Peter Kengere (above right) says his son returned to Kenya for a funeral, and now he can’t get out. (Listen – mp3)
Edwins Omodi (above left) has his mother, brother, and sisters in Kenya. “An African family is a big family,” he said. (Listen – mp3)
Nehphat Oliech’s family hasn’t had anything to eat for three days. “We don’t even think in terms of tribes,” he said. “We think of Kenyans.” (Listen – mp3)
Another gentleman, he identified himself as Reverend Clemons, has been keeping in touch via text messages. (Listen – mp3)
“Talk to me next,” many people said to me at the Capitol, though the temperature was near zero. And while each had family back in Kenya, they were most interested in expressing their worry for the future of democracy.
Later, in the warmth of the Capitol rotunda, they sang their country’s national anthem, which sounded very much like a dirge. (Listen – mp3)