As the president was finally inaugurated, the Kenyans feel economic pain


Mr. Kenyatta initially won re-election in August, easily defeating old rival Raila Odinga. Mr. Odinga challenged the outcome in the Court, which in September annulled Mr. Kenyatta's victory. That decision was celebrated by political badysts as a great signal for Kenya's democracy, but it undermined the economy. The Nairobi stock market plunged on Friday of the decision, and by the close of the next Monday almost 1,300 million dollars had been wiped out of the value of the listed companies.


President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya during his inauguration in Nairobi on Tuesday.

Baz Ratner / Reuters

After two months of political uncertainty and occasional violence. Mr. Odinga withdrew from the second campaign, saying that the process was still flawed. The president of the electoral commission warned that the survey is unlikely to be free and fair. The election proceeded anyway, and Mr. Kenyatta won again, obtaining 98% of the votes that the opposition party boycotted.

Kenya welcomed 15% fewer visitors in August: the month. of the first presidential vote, also the peak of the tourist season and a crucial driver of the country's economy, than in July. Figures compiled monthly by the National Bureau of Statistics of Kenya show that the other major industries in the country are also suffering. The key manufacturing indicators fell an average of almost 20 percent compared to the same period last year. The agricultural sector also suffered, although the statistics bureau attributed it to the drought.

Kenya's Ministry of Finance now expects 5 percent economic growth this year, almost one percentage point below its initial forecast.

However, the official figures hardly tell the whole story.

"Those numbers hide how much this affected your average Joe in Kenya," said Ms. Gordon, the badyst. "It has not been a good period for the average working Kenyan."

This is partly because women like Ms. Makau, the clothes seller in Kibera, are ignored in government figures, who do not measure the "informal economy" composed of people who work as street vendors, drivers and casual workers.

Mrs. Makau, 60, is feeling stress. Your only daily income of $ 10 is now $ 5, if you're lucky. She is paying her rent in installments so she does not have to skimp on meals for her children. Finding modern fashion for the falcon is a thing of the past.


Supporters of Kenya's opposition party, the National Super Alliance, during a protest in the poor neighborhood of Kibera in Nairobi this month.

Georgina Goodwin / Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

"The good thing is gone," he said, sitting in his tent, a reused shipping container full of faded liquidators he can not sell. Virtually no income, lacks the cash to buy new shares in the styles that your customers want.

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In Kibera, Kawangware and Mathare, neighborhoods in Nairobi that are home to hundreds of thousands of working poor people, people say that there is simply no money. And when the pockets are empty, the fruits and vegetables, and the investment they represent, rot in the vendors' stalls.

Ritchie Oudu, who makes most of his income selling DVDs in Kibera, has not been able to get new movies in three months. Their providers, based in the center of Nairobi, are too afraid to visit the slums. It is absorbing its dwindling savings to pay college fees.

Things are not much better in the central business district of Nairobi. Small and medium-sized retailers say that prolonged elections and frequent and sometimes violent political demonstrations alienated customers and provoked fears of vandalism.

Electoral violence is not limited to street fights among ordinary Kenyans, who are generally paid a dollar or less to show support on one side or the other. A business woman said that customers in her men's clothing shop frequently discussed politics. In one case, he said, two clients with opposing views came to blows.

There are some signs of change. When Mr. Kenyatta was preparing for his inauguration, Mr. Odinga canceled his party's plans to hold a parallel inauguration of his "popular president." But then he turned the tables, promising his supporters at a rally that he would take such an oath next month, on the anniversary of Kenya's independence.


A store that was set on fire during clashes between supporters of opposition leader Rail Odinga and riot police in Nairobi in October.

Patrick Meinhardt / Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

Mr. Odinga's speech was interrupted by police firing tear gas and, according to witnesses, bullets. Members of Mr. Odinga's party say that five people were killed and two killed during the chaos of the afternoon.

The skirmish and Mr. Odinga's promise of continuous provocation, feelings of relief in a city where many people, whatever their politics, say they simply want normalcy.

Ms. Makau, the clothing saleswoman, said she has no idea when she will have enough money to replenish. Mr. Oudu, 27, is still single, in a country where men often get married at that age, but says he does not have enough cash to date girls. Anna Mwenda, who sells telephone credit in downtown Nairobi, can not afford Christmas gifts for her five-year-old son, or the traditional holiday visit to see her family in rural Kenya.

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Jeremy Maganga, a 45-year-old scrap seller in Kibera, said it was not clear when family life would return to normal. He and his wife have found new weekend routines to avoid guests, and the social expectation of sharing food. Mr. Maganga sits down to work on Saturdays, although there is little business, and on Sundays after church, he and his wife and children roam outside the home.

"Normally we need visitors," he said, expressing his appreciation for the fall ins that are common here. "But now, we cut food at home by cutting it in. We can not welcome anyone"

To say such a thing in Kenya is to admit both shame and defeat. These feelings follow Mr. Maganga everywhere these days; He even takes it to dodge his wife and children, spend long hours at work and expect them to be asleep when he gets home.

Spend a few Kenyan shillings, not more than a penny or two, on Mandaazi, a popular fried-dough snack, for kids, just in case they're awake. It is your attempt, these days, not to disappoint them.

"They are angry with me," he said of his family, "that I can not toast."

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