Riot in Kenya

An African Emergency Response Plan

Medical epidemics, riots and escape and evasion are just a few of the topics a good Emergency Response Plan should cover, particularly when it comes to individuals travelling or staying in Africa.

Riots are unpredictable and chaotic, often occurring suddenly and without warning.

On December 2007  riots erupted all over Kenya, after Mwai Kibaki narrowly defeated his rival Raili Odinga, in one of the most fiercely fought elections in Kenyan history.

Conflict has existed between the two majority Kenyan ethnic groups inhabiting the region, namely the Luo and the Kikuyu.   Mwai Kibaki is Kikuyu and Raili Odinga a Luo, meaning the election took on a tribal dimension.

Approximately 15 minutes after Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the election, thousands of angry Luo’s went on a rampage throughout Kenya.  Armed with sticks, machetes and traditional weapons, many of the rioters went house to house, beating Kikuyu tribesmen to death.  The police clashed with the rioters using teargas, batons and rubber bullets, but could not contain the chaos that had engulfed the nation.  As the police were proving to be ineffective, the Army was deployed, and live ammunition used to stop the rioters.

“‘The government was determined to hold onto power,’ said the ambassador, who did not want to be identified because he said he feared reprisals from the Kenyan government.” -New York Times

The above example may seem excessively extreme and violent by Western Standards. In Africa however, unusually violent riots are in some places a frequent occurrence.   To enhance your chance of surviving a riot, you need an effective Emergency Response Plan that has been designed specifically for the region you are traveling or staying.

A Western Emergency Response Plan for riots, may include tips such as keeping the numbers of law enforcement departments on speed dial, so you can call them for assistance.   Many African law enforcement departments aren’t trained in the use of force continuum, and as with what happened in Kenya, are known to at times use aggressive methods to cope with riots.  Many African law enforcement departments have at times used  pistols, shotguns and machine guns to stop rioters, which makes some African riots more like war zones.

One of the ways to prepare yourself for the dangers you may face in Africa, is to become familiar with the fire arms most often used in Africa.  This is why the H.E.A.T Course includes weapon familiarization using pistols, shotguns and machine guns.  The more comfortable you are with firearms, the less likely you are to panic or freeze if bullets start flying.  An Emergency Response Plan should thus include prior familiarization with pistols, shotguns and machine guns.

If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself amongst rioters in Africa, your Emergency Response Plan, should include avoiding points of contact.  These areas are where rioters and law enforcement are likely to clash.  If you are indoors, stay indoors and take the necessary steps to protect yourself, only leaving when it is safe to do so, or when it is absolutely necessary.  As tear gas is a commonly used method of subduing rioters, one needs to become familiar with some useful teargas countermeasures, such as those covered in the H.E.A.T Course and Manual.

In Africa for any Emergency Response Plan to be effective it must be match the region you will be traveling to or staying in.

To protect yourself and your loved ones, you need an effective Emergency Response Plan in place.  Most Emergency Response Plans are designed for hostile environments found in Western Nations, and therefore contain topics more appropriate for a Euro-centric context.  The H.E.A.T Course however covers topics that take into account some of the hostile situations one might encounter when traveling or staying in Africa.

Some of the topics covered in the H.E.A.T Course.
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Escape and Evasion
  • African Cultural Sensitivity
  • Streetwise Self-defence
  • Practical Survival Skills
  • Survival Kits

The topics covered in the H.E.A.T course are great for creating an emergency response plan.