Kenyan university shut over riots

May 18, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 18 – Chaos reigned at the University of Nairobi on Tuesday, even after the management declared the institution closed.

Rowdy students who had gathered at the main administration block after learning of the closure, continued to vandalise the school, destroying property of unknown value.

“We will not go, we are here to stay,” some of the student leaders shouted to a cheering crowd which responded with “comrade power!” – a slogan popular with university students whenever they are on the rampage.

They tore to pieces notices declaring the closure of the school, and marched to their hostels while chanting anti-university administration slogans.

The notice declaring the school’s closure which was signed by Vice Chancellor Prof George Magoha read in part “the Senate has held a meeting and agreed to close the university until further notice. The closure will affect all the modules.”

Others said they did not believe the circular was a true copy from the Vice Chancellor’s office.

“We cannot buy that idea, we know there are people who want to claim that the university has been closed so that we can move out and let them continue mismanaging our (student) union.  We are not going anywhere,” one student leader said and urged his colleagues to stay put and wait for an address from Vice Chancellor.

The university’s security officers had a hard time stopping the students from damaging property at the university’s administration offices.

Truckloads of anti-riot police patrolled the university precincts but before they could intervene, it dawned to the students that the institution had indeed been closed.

“This closure is going to affect us, we were not prepared to go home, they should have just left us to solve the mess,” Agnes Kanini, a third year student in Business Administration said.

Another student said:  You cannot give students one hour to vacate the campus, you need to give them three weeks or even a month, some of us come from very far and we need to get transport home and that cannot be found within an hour.”

The students’ frustration was visible as they carried their bags across city streets to get transport to their respective homes.

Most of them were not willing to grant interviews and instead said:  “You people (the media) are to blame for all this, you have exaggerated the situation.”

The students have been on the rampage since Friday when they held elections to elect new office bearers for the Students Organisation of Nairobi University (SONU) which ended in disarray.

Ballot boxes were snatched by hired goons in the middle of the night during the counting process, sparking chaos which continued up to Tuesday.

On learning that the elections had been bungled, the university administration announced it had disbanded the union for one year and named an interim committee which was to be headed by the former SONU Chairman who was defending his seat in Friday’s elections, but the chaos continued unabated.

Two vehicles are among property destroyed by the students at the weekend, before three of them were arrested and charged in court with incitement to violence.


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