THE TELEVISION CARRIED SCENES that were at once horrific and startlingly familiar; violence raging in an African state – a fire, a mob and dusty streets. Kenya, long perceived to be a safe and democratic nation, had exploded overnight after political unrest frothed into a rampage that culminated in the burning of a church containing 50 souls. The country was spiraling out of control.
I watched on my couch, next to an ornately decorated artificial Christmas tree, and thought for a moment about how far away it all seemed, how surreal. But something felt odd, and I kept asking myself: Do I know someone in Kenya?
Moments later it clicked that my friend Lauren had plans to travel from Niger to Nairobi sometime in December – she would be spending some time there before slowly making her way to South Africa. Her plans were loose, and she would be getting from place to place by buses and hitched rides. I couldn’t help fearing for her safety, as I later read that roads across the country had been blocked by thugs.
And I thought about how strange it was that there in my living room, tucked away while in some distant corner of the world people were mourning the unspeakably terrible loss of family and friends, I was in at least one way linked to the tragedy. Though my moments of silent concern were remote from the anguish felt on the ground in Kenya, here was a moment of interdependence manifested; the flames of that fire had licked and lashed out into the world, and ripples passed over the airwaves.
Lauren if you read this, drop me a line.