The rain is back. It’s falling fast and heavy, pattering down the plastic sheets, dripping down into the streets. Flowing down the cardboard roof and into the footpaths.
When the rain stops the mud and cold begin.
Politicians were here yesterday. But only for a few hours. Future County Assemblymen, Women’s Reps, Senators, Members of Parliament, even one or two future governors.They demand we register to vote: “Do the right thing”
They are flush with joy. There is jubilation that cords of friendship have been bound. They’ve left now; I’m left holding tattered cords of my rainswept life.
They registered us for relief. They registered us for compensation. A prosecutor came to see us and registered our plight and made promises. Now, They’ve asked us to register to vote. “Hurry up” they say. “Beat the deadline” they add. “Don’t wait till it’s too late” they warn.
We ask again and again for the means to renew our lives. “Be patient” they say. “It’s only been five years,” they remind us, “We’re working as fast as we can.”
We’ve been in makeshift camps, temporary camps, transit camps, resettlement camps, closed camps, ‘camp-like’ situations and no camps. We fill the streets of Eldoret, Limuru and Kericho.
Now we’ve been integrated into host communites. Integrated into the landscape. Submerged in the mud, hidden in the background. Out on the streets, stripped of the status of IDPs, we became street urchins; our kids became street kids. Their kids will be street kids’ kids. Are they still displaced or now at home in with the homeless? Can one be an IDP from birth? Does displacement begin at conception?
What remains is relief organisations playing the chord of pity. A magical chord that releases funds that feed more alphabet soup groups that tweak that chord one more time. Until old pity is deluged by a new tune of indifference
To be displaced isn’t just being in a camp. Its the street. The stranger’s house. The ancestral home as alien as Mars. It is traumatic amputation from a life. It is living with a ghost limb that itches every day in a place you can’t scratch.
Many resettled after the violence ended. So the rest of us are a lighter burden on the conscience. Buried, smothered quietly in plain sight.
Outside, the rain hasn’t stopped. It runs down the plastic sheet. Into the street. It churns the footpaths into sticky mud. I cannot pass until the rain stops. I can’t move forward and I can’t go back.