Mombasa Writers Conference 

Conflict In Context - Field Notes


Off to an interesting start this morning: I’m in Mombasa participating in a writers conference focusing on political violence. The group consists of poets, journalists, anthropologists, historians…I was in the front in a van with some from the group en route to Swahili cultural center when a matatu (ad hoc bus) passed by and shouted to me “fucking mzungu” (white person). One of the writers got the plate number and the driver pursued the matatu and mentioned reporting the rude behavior to the #police. (In similar circumstances if I’m alone I usually try to stand up for myself by speaking Swahili) But when we pulled up in front of the van (pictured) three guys including our driver shouted, “how can you treat a guest this way?” You can see the #matatu driver pleading forgiveness. The artistes then got out and pulled the driver out of his can and began slapping and kicking him. I realized I was left alone in an idling vehicle. I was mortified. By this time a crowd had gathered and in Swahili begged them to stop, worrying that bystanders might join in on the vigilante episode – and get out of hand. None was listening, so I rolled up the window and tried locking my already locked door. The fight went on for another few minutes behind the van out of my eyesight but they finally let him go. The driver pulled up alongside my window apparently unhurt and told me he was truly sorry – and sped away. NOTE: This is not a common occurrence. I have lived in East Africa now for two decades and a first. #racism #resentment #historicalinjustices #violence #Swahili #racism #resentment #historicalinjustices #violence #Swahili​

(Text & photo originally an Instagram post @margotkiser) 



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