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Diaspora Kenyans Hold Weekly Vigils in Washington, DC


The political crisis in Kenya has prompted Kenyans living in the Washington, DC, area to come together for weekend vigils. Kenya erupted in violence after disputed presidential elections two months ago.

At a recent candlelight vigil, they gathered on the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial. The symbolic nature of the venue was not lost on those attending the gathering.

A young woman named Faith Muigai, who lives in the nearby city of Baltimore, said the event [was] "dedicated to those we have lost as well as a symbolic affirmation of our unity as a people." Muigai is a Kenyan community organizer. She said, "We also needed to come together and mourn for all our relatives who have lost their lives in this craziness."

She says Kenyans in the Diaspora wield political influence and cannot afford to be complacent: "We as Kenyans are seeking to dialogue, because dialogue here can influence what is going on at home."

For years Kenya was known as a peaceful country on a continent riddled with conflict. The country has had its share of civil tensions, but those attending the vigil say they did not expect to see violence erupt. Muigai says Kenyans will "overcome the crisis and use the experience to grow as a nation."

The tensions at home between Kenyans of different ethnic groups have also affected the Diaspora. Muigai said, "The negativity and bitterness is seeping in here; therefore we need nip it in the bud before it boils over." She says the weekly vigils are a means of doing just that.

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