By David Ngaruri Kenney
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Extra resources for Asylum Denied: A Refugee's Struggle for Safety in America
32 / The Farmers’ Boycott As his aides handed the commissioner a microphone, he said quietly to me, “I am impressed. ” Then he turned to address the farmers. He told them that President Moi had originally wanted him to go to Murang’a, but after hearing about the march, the president had asked him to speak to the farmers in Kerugoya, to tell us to go home and listen to his address on the radio. As I heard Commissioner Tiliitei speak these words, I feared that he was invoking his administrative power to order us to go home and that he would have the organizers arrested if we did not comply.
I started to feel very comfortable with Americans. When I made my weekly reports to the police, they asked about the Americans, but they didn’t try to stop us from associating. One evening, as I was preparing to milk a cow on my farm, one of the local elders approached the gate with two more white people. They were looking for Phil’s house, and the elder knew that I had been hanging out with him. I invited them to have dinner with me and the twins while they waited for Phil to return from a trip to Nairobi.
I surprised myself by blurting out that farming tea under the KTDA’s rules made us no better than slaves. We were limited to tea farming and could not do what we wanted with our property. Suddenly, everyone started to listen to me because of my strong language. As the crowd became more attentive, I grew more impassioned. I argued that if we could not change the KTDA policies, we would live as poorly as our parents had lived. I suggested that on the following day we should organize a march to the nearby KTDA tea-processing factory and that we should use peaceful means, such as a mass boycott, to prevent the factory from operating until the KTDA met our demands.
Asylum Denied: A Refugee's Struggle for Safety in America by David Ngaruri Kenney