Eyewitnesses Describe Situation in Eldoret and Kibera

Believe me, the death count that you are reading in the newspaper, actually it is over ten times this. The attack has been undertaken all around Eldoret. All around. All the farms, all the villages. If one time, it would be possible to have a death count, we are not talking of hundreds, we are talking of thousands.

A blog called 8 months in Kenya that has been following the situation closely in Kenya, recently put up two interviews with a Kikuyu businessman in Eldoret and a Luo resident of Kibera which reveals the human cost of what is happening right now in Kenya better than anything I have read anywhere else to date.

For those who exhibit complacency about what is happening in Eldoret and elsewhere with statements like “it’s not yet genocide” these interviews are necessary reading. We should respect the experience of people who are describing what they have seen and investigate who is instigating this violence and ACT to stop it now.

That’s not going to happen when people are unwilling to call genocide ethnic cleansing by its name. How many people have to die before we can officially call it genocide ethnic cleansing? It was precisely this quibbling that prevented the UN and US from naming what was taking place in Rwanda and then acting in time to prevent the situation from worsening, in the full glare of the media I million people were killed.

I have read eyewitness accounts which are saying that the people doing the killing are strangers, not known to anyone in the area while in other reports in the media people in Eldoret and Kibera know who is doing it. In an earlier Telegraph article a Kikuyu student in Eldoret says the Kalenjin camped outside her university ” have lists with the names of the people they want dead. They have already killed many. If we are not evacuated, God knows what will happen tomorrow.” Kenyans on the ground need to contact the police in Eldoret to make sure the students at the East African University of Baratonse are protected.

The first interview is with a Kikuyu businessman named Patrick whose family have been living in Eldoret for over 60 years and who were forced to flee the area.

What was the situation when you left?

The situation in Eldoret is pathetic. It is systematic annihalation of tribe, in my opinion. It actually took God to make it to the airport. Along the way, we were attacked by the Kalenkin warriors but through God’s grace and because we had requested a police escort, we barely made it through. But in the convoy that we were in, we almost lost one car. But through God’s grace, we made it to the airport. It’s been hell. I can say that.

When did you know you had to leave?

Actually, we knew that we would have wanted to have stayed because we were born and bred in Eldoret. My parents moved into Eldoret way back in 1940. So we don’t know anywhere else as home, apart from that place.

But when we realized that this had moved from the ODM, PNU conflict to something much deeper, and that the presidential elections had been used as an excuse for something else to be implemented, [for] the Kalenjins to get rid of the Kikuyus, that’s when we realized that we had to move out. That was the day before yesterday.

How did you leave?

We had to request our friends in Nairobi to come to our aid by chartering a plane because we could not access money and we didn’t have the kind of money that is needed to charter a plane. Our friends here in Nairobi came together and raised the money.

“It’s whoever gets out, gets out.”

Who have you left behind?

Our family is quite large. What I managed to do is to get my immediate family, my wife and my children but I have left my cousins, I have left my brothers. I am trying to communicated with my brothers to see if they can join us. But the situation is so bad that we can not say that we have to move as the whole clan. We are several hundred. We have lost several members in the conflict.

We have another small batch of relatives at the airport. They might make it today or tomorrow. We don’t know. We are still working on getting the ones who are in town because you can not get to the airport without escort. It’s an enormous challenge that we don’t’ know how far we can go because the resources needed to charter this plane are enormous. It costs between 170,000 to 320,000 Kenya shillings to charter a 19-seater.

I told you that my family is expansive. I lost two of my relatives in an area, very young boys. But what was even more disheartening, was my grandmother. She has a farm in Burnt Forest. When the clashes began, they left their homes and they went to a school, the whole village. The school was surrounded by the warriors. Any second, they could have attacked the school and finished them. We cried to the police and the police did send some policemen. The warriors still insisted that they wanted to kill these people. The police brokered a deal. [The people had to walk 20 KM to the nearest town, without getting anything from their homes.] Those villagers are trapped in a small town. We can’t get them food and we can’t get them to Eldoret town. They can’t come out.

“We really fear that there might be a massacre in Eldoret in the next few days.”

Patrick’s wife Ruth chimes in…

There is great fear in Eldoret town because people are being pushed into one central place, at the police station and at the church. What we have seen is that they are coming now and burning the churches at the outskirts. So far, we know that three churches have been burned and they have blocked all the exits out of town such that you can not get out of Eldoret town. So there is that great fear: why are we being pushed to the center for town? What is the intention?

What we have seen in the outskirts, the violence is so much. There is no precedent for it. In 1992, in 1997, it was not this fierce [during past land clashes]. So there is that great fear among the Kikuyu community in Eldoret. Why are we being put in one central place and we can not get out? So we really fear that there might be a massacre in Eldoret in the next few days.
Nation_cover

You are holding quite a picture on the cover of that paper…? [As we were talking, Patrick was holding a copy of today’s paper in his hand. On the cover was a photo of a woman wailing outside the burnt shell of the church in Eldoret where a group of sheltering Kikuyus were killed.]

This is a very sad moment. When I made it to Nairobi and I was able to get this paper. One of my families live next to this church that was burned. Over 70 children and women were killed in this church [Media and official reports of the numbers vary widely]. It’s barely a kilometer from where some of my relatives live. It means that some of my relatives, I don’t know, maybe some were caught up in there. But so far we believe they are not caught up there.

This is a very good example of what we are talking about. We know that historically, people have warred. They have always tribe versus tribe, for many reasons, some petty, some reasonable. But we know that the house of God is a place that, across the world, people respect. According to the African culture, children and women are not killed. We also know that the Kalenjin warriors, according to their culture, because we have lived with them, they don’t kill women or children.

So when it comes to a point whereby they go to a house of God where children and women are taking refuge and they kill them there, this is taking the conflict to another level that we believe is not the presidential race.

How surprised are you by what’s happened?

I am shocked. I know the Kalenjin, they are warlike. We know, we live with them, that they have those regiments, they have warriors. But we know that they are also very peace-loving people, we know that we have inter-married with them. This is why it is very shocking that it has gone to this level.

When there was this conflict that the presidential race was unfair, rigging had taken place, we definitely expected some outcry. We definitely expected some people marching. It’s not the first time. In Kenya’s we’ve had land clashed, 1992, 1997. It’s not like it’s something that is new to us. But the level that this has been taking…

Believe me, the death count that you are reading in the newspaper, actually it is over ten times this. The attack has been undertaken all around Eldoret. All around. All the farms, all the villages. If one time, it would be possible to have a death count, we are not talking of hundreds, we are talking of thousands.

What long-term effect do you think this conflict might have in Eldoret and in the country as a whole?

We know what has happened in other countries. We know what has happened in Bosnia, what has happened in Rwanda. Let’s not lie to ourselves that maybe there will not be retaliation.

In Rwanda, when the Hutus killed the Tutsis, it was fun until the tables turned and the Tutsis started killing the Hutus. We all know how many millions have died there. The reality is that, definitely, even if it is not me, there are people who are pained. You never know, it might take ten years, and an opportunity will occur for them to revenge. You never know, anything will trigger it.

Right now, the Kikuyus might be killed and everybody is excited and it’s fine and it cools down. And even Kibaki can say he has given up the seat and it is fine, it cools down. But an opportunity one time will present itself and this will not be forgotten.

What needs to happen to build peace?

We are peace-loving country and God-fearing. It is said that over 80 percent of Kenyans are Christians. Even one of the things that came up in the campaign period was the issue of whether the leaders were Christians. Raila said he is a staunch Christian. President Kibaki said he is a staunch Catholic Christian. But I am asking, where are these pastors? Where are these pastors in Eldoret, Kalenjin pastors? Where is this Christianity?

I am shocked that pastors that had been preaching for us to be god-fearing, they are not coming out to condemn this. They are quiet as the work is being done. And when maybe everybody is down, they will come to bury us and say a very good prayer.

Because in my opinion, there is an opportunity for the church to rise above politics and take its position. How come this Christianity is not playing a role here? Why can’t I hear a Kalenjin bishop or a Kalenjin father or a Kalenjin pastor or a Kalenjin Imam, for that matter, coming out and saying”No, our religion forbids killing women and children.” If it’s men, it’s another issue. You can claim they are combatants. And in any war, combatants die. But I don’t believe Christianity or Islam would agree for children and women to be killed in the house of God.

So peace-building, the church has to begin. Right now we don’t trust the political leadership. I want to confess and say, I have not seen Kibaki coming out to speak strongly about it. I want to tell you, I think Raila has said he is not concerned unless Kibaki resigns. The person who is the leader in our area, he is just quiet.

So before the politicians can even sit, I would like to see the church coming out and putting their feet down. That is the first thing.

The second thing, as we are speaking, you might get a report that the war has cooled down. But we have thousands of people camped at the police station and church compounds and they are starving to death. So as much as they were not pierced by the arrows at their farms, they are dying slowly.

If nothing is done for that, you will be lying to people, saying that there is peace.

When there are two warring parties, it always takes a third party to come in and give reason. What we are observing is the international community being silent. We know that the international community is knowing what is happening. They are taking it lightly. We know the same mistake was done in Rwanda, whereby the Rwandese started killing eachother, they cried out to the international community. The international community ignored them until up to a million Rwandans were dead.

The same story is being repeated in Eldoret. This is genocide being done in Eldoret.

Edwin is an 18-year-old Luo man living with his mother and two sisters in Kibera. They live in one of the poorest and oldest neighborhoods in the 700-thousand person slum.

What has been happening for the past couple of days?

After the elections, that place was very, very much disrupted, places burned, looted. Olympic shopping center, it is all down. Burned and everything taken. They started entering the estates now. No people are living there now.

Where is everybody staying?

They are starting to look at where they can get peace. Down in the slums, all people are forced out or else your house is burned. They just tell you, “You are the ones who voted Kibaki in, you are now enjoying. So, instead of enjoying and we are crying, you also, you will cry.” So they burn your house.

Yesterday things were calm, but shops were still closed. One supermarket is open but [they are only allowing two people in at a time]. Yesterday, we went to look if we could get something to eat there. But all the vegetables were finished and we were only allowed to take two packets of flour, at most. Sugar, you are only allowed to take one packet, two kilograms.

Where are you staying right now?

We are just staying down there, at the slums, Soweto. But when people are out, we have to be out. No matter the cold or whatever because that is the only way to secure your home and your properties. You have to light fire outside your house and sit out.

How are you getting by?

The last two days, after elections, we had to live with just water because there was no food. We weren’t prepared for the chaos. Yesterday we managed to get two packets of flour and people were selling vegetables. And yet, it was expensive. It brings a lot of problems.

What do you think the next few days will bring?

It’s good when people are left to go on with that rally and sort everything out. If the government stops it, it will be much more [chaos] than this. People were just quiet because of what the opposition leader said, people should be calm because they will meet on Thursday. But again yesterday the government spokesman said that they won’t be allowed in Uhuru Park. That will bring chaos here, if they are not allowed, the anger will continue. People might live like refugees in their own countries.

What have you heard about rapes and violence in Kibera?

Rapes are many because some people are taking advantage of opportunities that now people are scattered. In our area, two girls were raped. One was in a critical condition and had to be rushed to the hospital.

Some Kikuyus are being thrown out of their houses down there. People are grabbing those houses. In the process of grabbing the houses, people find themselves fighting for that also. It is one house and almost ten people want to grab that house, so they fight themselves again.

That rape case, it’s hard. Because at night, people are out, you don’t know what is going on. Lights were off. We were in blackout. It’s dark. In the morning, you find somebody was killed, two girls were raped, Even mothers, even old grandmothers, just raped.

How surprised are you by what is going on?

I’ve never seen or experienced such kind of thing. I’ve seen elections, but this one is terrible.

How much is this about politics and how much is this about tribalism?

Politics, this one, it is tribal. People expected that there will be a change and people wanted really a change. Considering what the president said last term… it’s a five-year term and nothing was achieved except free primary education. So as we talk politically, this thing is politically oriented. People wanted a change this time yet they didn’t get it.

When we talk about tribes… I don’t think so. In Eldoret, there’s another tribe. In Nyanza, there’s another. In Coast, there is another tribe. You find all places, people are fighting. So you can’t say that this tribe doesn’t like this tribe or whatever.

But down here in Kibera, Kikuyus don’t have a chance, truly speaking. Kikuyus are just thrown out, their things grabbed. Whether they have kids, they don’t care, they just throw you out.

You are a young man, you are probably going to be living in Kenya for the rest of your life. What concern do you have that people’s behaviour now might hurt the future of the country and your future with it?

How people are behaving and how I have seen things down there, it will take about three months now if people want to be back to normal. To build up that estate again, it will take people at least a year. Everything is destroyed.

But in the future, this thing is going to effect Kenya. Children are going to be left orphans, fatherless because of how people are fighting.

This thing, also, politically, is going to effect Kenya. Now politicians, instead of coming up with something that will help, they are trying to build on their own interest. They don’t want to see that Kenyans’s lives are at stake.

Who needs to make peace?

I would like the government, if they know that they won it fairly, they should prove it, re-tally the election. Even dialog will not help, because people wanted a change. Dialog between the President and the Opposition Leader won’t help. It’s not their Kenya. Kenya is not two people, the Opposition Leader and the President. They should re-tally. And if everything is OK, and people see that this is a fair election, not a rigged election, the situation will calm down.


Addendum:
What is the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs doing? Contact their E.A. offices in Kenya on +254207622119 and ask them to act as observers and help Kenyans now.

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3 Responses to “Eyewitnesses Describe Situation in Eldoret and Kibera”


  1. 1 ku January 5, 2008 at 5:17 am

    These attacks were planned months before the election. The opposition decdided since their leader Raila had no record on which to run that they would preach an anti-kikuyu message all over the country to detract from his lack of record and previous unpopular associations with communisim. To win at all costs they would bring the issue of majimboism so as to attract the coast people and the kalenjins in the Rift Valley. The message of hate towards the kikuyus has been heard loud and clear. It is not us who had the hate it is them, but they twist it to make it look like it is us. An american asked me yesterday what the deal was with wealth and why remarks were being made about kikuyus having all the wealth. I told him this: Give a kikuyu and a luo a million shillings each to do with as they please. On average the kikuyu will buy land and start a small business before long that million has multiplied. The luo, in general will go out and buy a car, nice furniture and some fancy electronics. As soon as he steps outside the shop where he purchased them they begin to depreciate in value. I asked the american to tell me in 5 years who he thinks will be better off? It doesn’t take a scientist folks, life is all about choices! When people make the wrong choices before long they find scapegoats! It is extremely difficult to do a truthful analysis of self but that dawn is upon us.

  2. 2 Justice Must Prevail January 24, 2008 at 3:37 am

    This is a statement from People Foundation, Inc, California. Over the last couple of days, we have seen Hon. Raila Odinga come to terms with the escalating lose of human lives in our country, and has consistently softened his stand towards a peaceful resolution to the current crisis. One thing that has aroused our curiosity is the posture that William Ruto has taken in the whole reconciliation process. We got concerned and embarked on a quick investigative research to unearth what is driving Ruto not to explore peaceful resolution to the social-political crisis going on in our country. Let the truth be known that William Ruto is the man sponsoring the genocide operations going in Rift Valley through the Karamajong Guerilla Fighters, a militia with operations similar to the old known militia “the Shiftas” that fought Moi in the 1980s. Reliable sources indicate that Karamojong Guerrilla Fighters arrived in city of Eldoret where they mercilessly massacred hundreds of innocent people including women and children. Recently Ruto was reported to be out of Nairobi, and could not attend the meeting between Raila and Kalonzo. We have established that Ruto was in Eldoret meeting with the Karamojong Guerilla Fighters. Ruto knew that the only way ODM could have access to adequate firepower (KEG) was to engage the Karamojong Guerilla Fighter who are obviously known to possess insurmountable quantities of AK-47, Automatic Rifles and other sophisticated small arms. It is important to highlight the fact that Karamojong communities are cousins with the Luos, and therefore, it is the same militia that is killing people in Nyanza. It is therefore imperative for the government of the day to take decisive and conclusive action against William Ruto, and the perpetrators of genocide. We cannot afford to see one more live lost. We are also asking Hon Raila Odinga to disassociate himself with William Ruto and speak for peace and return of the nation to normalcy. Who knows whether the judicial process could over turn the ECK decision, and see a re-run of the presidential elections? Karamoja, the nomadic pastoralists of Northern Uganda and Kenya have traditionally raided each other’s livestock, an activity that flows naturally from their cultural frameworks for life. During the raiding season, the raid is typically followed counter-raid with considerable loss of life. Ever since they became neighbors, raiding has gone on intermittently, not only between Karamojong and Pokot, but also between them and Jie, Dodoso, Turkana, Samburu, Marakwet, Sapiny ot Sabawot, and Bukusu. Before 1970s, Karamoja was peaceful, pastoral and traditional, but the years according to Mirzeler & Young (2000) ushered in the new era of guns. The proliferation of automatic rifles (Leggett, 2000) has unequivocally infected the Karamojong culture with ills of modern AK-47 raids, which currently pose the single greatest risk to the security of the northern region. Mirzeler & Young (2000) write that there are over 40,000 AK-47 in Karamojong community, while Gray (2000) estimates that there are over 100,000 automatic rifles in Karamoja. Firearms are not novelties for the Karamojong, they have enculturated them with very little fuss, just like other Iron implements, all of which are acquired from foreigners. The Karamojongs have possessed firearms since 1870 when the colonial government licensed some, and there have always been at least a few illicit firearms. The community started acquiring sophisticated guns in large quantities in the 1970s following the routing of President Idi Amin’s army in Uganda by an alliance of Tanzanian People’s Defense Force and Uganda exiles (Mburu, 2000). One known major source was the Moroto barracks which the fleeing Ugandan dictator abandoned intact thus allowing the Karamojong to help themselves to unlimited quantities of rifles, small arms and ammunitions. William Ruto, knowing very well that in the context of the Turkana and Karamojong people that the current governments in Kenya and Uganda are part of the insecurity problem, has incited the Karamojongs and other communities to violence, and secretly engaged the Karamojong Guerilla Fighters to inflict fear and suffering among the people in protest of the outcome of the just concluded general elections. To this end, Ruto should be apprehended as an underworld warlord who incites ethnic communities to arm and commit genocide like what recently happened in the church campus in Eldoret, For those who think the government should not act decisively and conclusively with William Ruto should read (Romans 13:4) .. for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.

    People Foundation, Inc,
    Social Transformation
    Advocacy Group 775 River
    Oaks Parkway
    San Jose, CA 95136

  3. 3 athenaeum January 24, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    I take issue with the your assertion “It is important to highlight the fact that Karamojong communities are cousins with the Luos, and therefore, it is the same militia that is killing people in Nyanza.” They are not. GSU are killing people in Nyanza and the Karamajong are no more cousins of the Luo than the Kikuyu. These claims can only heat up the situation. This violence is politically instigated and was designed to stir up Kalenjin grievances over land.

    The man we want is Ruto.

    My personal opinion on this is that Odinga made a huge tactical error by bringing on board Ruto. Odinga will pay for it by not getting the coveted State House but I want to see Ruto behind bars.

    This is an inter-elite battle which has opened the way for revolts from below but there are no leaders for the people who are killing each other in the slums of Nairobi.

    Odinga has shown himself to be a poor tactician, not only by siding with Ruto but with many of the decisions he has made since Kibaki was declared president.

    While Kibaki has shown himself to have something of the dictator about him.

    It is unfortunate that these two men did not think about a) what rigging the election would do to the country and b) how their grand-standing would take Kenya into the abyss. It was clear to everyone but them! I trust neither of them.


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