Riots and Political Unrest

On February 13, 1990 the burned remains of Robert Ouko, a popular political figure in Kenya, were found on the grounds of his home.  The next several weeks were tense as more and more information about his death came to light.  The murder has never been solved and there is still alot of speculation about the circumstances surrounding his death.  For one thing, at least according to a report revealed in 2010, it was believed that his death actually happened at one of the residences belonging to the President of Kenya.  It was also believed that he was intent on revealing the names of several powerful people involved in fraud and corruption. Mr. Ouko was well respected outside Kenya, but apparently he made enemies inside his country.

In one way, the above bit of news is not so unusual in this world. Some people live with daily dangers than I cannot comprehend.  But I had never lived in a place where murder and conspiracy took place so close to the location I was living!  We had been in Nairobi for almost 5 months and were settling nicely into our new routine of looking for work and studying the Bible with new friends along the way.  The death of Robert Ouko caused a blip in that routine!

St. Andrews Towers, the apartment building where we were living at the time, was located at the bottom of the road that led to the campus of Nairobi University.  Several times while we lived in Kenya, beginning shortly after the Ouko death, students rioted in protest of political policies and one time even as a protest against food served in the dormitories.  Eventually we got used to the riots - if you can really get used to streams of students pouring down the road next to your house, shouting, surrounding cars and shaking them, throwing rocks and breaking windows and the sound of sirens as the police respond.  Tom got caught up in the riots trying to get home at least one time.  His eyes were stinging because even though he stayed at the edge of the crowds, the police were shooting tear gas to break things up and he walked right into it.  There were several days we had to stay in our apartment.  It wasn't always safe to go walking into town.

Those were scary times for me.  It wasn't so bad that I wanted to leave the country, but I don't think I really knew how to process all that I felt.  I remember praying alot and I know that I studied the scriptures over and over about trusting God and being content and at peace.  I think that I tried to look at it all as one big adventure. I was determined to be brave. And I also saw it as an opportunity to overcome temptations of fear.

Looking back, it makes me grateful that God always intervened and kept us safe.  When we arrived in Kenya the country appeared stable and its people seemed content.  Throughout the 1990s, however, Kenya went through some very turbulent times.  In spite of that, or perhaps because of everything that was happening around them, many Kenyans proved eager to study the Bible and learn more about what it meant to be a true disciple and follower of Jesus.  God really does work to the good in all situations!  

Lori ZieglerComment