Mid-afternoon, and black smoke trails above the grey tenements. Broken glass, burned tyres, rubble and makeshift barricades block roads. Charred spars mark where a stall once stood, incinerated in confused clashes overnight. Police, armed with batons and assault rifles, cluster around their trucks. Angry men shout slogans and wave fists. The morning has seen much violence: teenagers throwing rocks, police firing teargas. During the night, Mathare, a sprawling slum in Nairobi, has echoed to the sound of gunfire and police helicopters. There have been many casualties, some fatal. Now there is a pause. The police are waiting. So too are the youths they have pursued through the narrow lanes for almost 18 hours – since the Kenyan election commission declared Uhuru Kenyatta, in power since 2013, had won the presidential polls held on Tuesday by a substantial margin.
Down a side lane, a family is grieving. At 10.30am eight-year-old Stephanie Mora was hit by a bullet as she stood by a balcony on the fourth floor of a crumbling tenement overlooking a market in Mathare North. Smeared blood and a pockmark in the wall show where she was standing. She died almost immediately. Her parents threaded their way through the chaos to take her body to the mortuary. “She was an innocent child,” said Dennis Ojolo, 30, the dead girl’s uncle.
Police in Nairobi say they only use live ammunition “to scare”, not to target the stone-throwers who they describe as “looters” intent on exploiting the political situation for criminal gain.
Stephanie was like likely hit by a stray bullet. This makes little difference to her family and neighbours. “They wanted to kill us, to crush us. That is why they came here,” said Solomon Oloch, 18.