Saturday, January 19, 2008
Behind The Scenes: What Really Happen In The Rift
Here is what our special informant on the ground could accurately gather about what really happened during the post-election violence in Kisumu, Migori and North rift. A story of heartache, headache, collusion, conspiracy and death.
Basically in Eldoret and environs, including burnt forest. The so called Karamajong warriors are correctly identified. Since the karamajong and Pokot are actually the same tribe but to safe guard themselves from retaliation the Pokot called their Ugandan neighbours (brothers) to do the dirty work. They were being paid by a combination of people closely linked to top brass politicians.
Their reputation and ruthlessness is legendary (ask the Samburu) and as such in one incident only 7 warriors raided a town in Nandi and all the police barricaded themselves in the police station with rifles facing out and let the warriors torch houses and kill to their abandon.
They warriors were (are) under instruction to kill all Kikuyu and Kisii torch their business and take away or give away their belongings. The unwritten agreement is that No Kikuyu or Kisii will live or work in Uasin Gishu at all. Not one.
One lady I know personally who lives right in a high class surburb in Eldoret was visited by the warriors. Fortunately she and her family were away. Her guards (maasai) and fierce dogs managed to keep the raiders at bay. That's how serious the situation was. Had she been found at home they would have killed her. She lectures at a nearby university.
It is clear that word had got around in North rift that an ODM government was going to finally address the injustice the Kalenjin feel has been visited on them since Kenyatta's days when a lot of their ancestral land was allocated to Kikuyu's and Kisii's. During Moi's time they thought that Moi would address the issue but Moi looking for his own survival actually allocated more land to Kikuyu and Kalenjin elite.
ODM's majimbo stance (never mind that ODM had intended to effect a constitutional and staggered move to majimbo) was misinterpreted by grassroots as a Government move (ODM Government) to reverse this and find other land for non indigenous people to settle or have them return to their own ancestral land. As it became clear in the run up to the election that it would be to close to call word went round that if ODM failed (and elections were rigged, that's the only way they believed or had been convinced that ODM could fail) then they would take matters into their own hands. So those who claim that the killings in North rift were not spontaneous but orchestrated are right. It was planned from way before the elections.
A respected Nandi elder had this experience. He went to Kisumu on 29 December morning from Nandi to buy spares for his tractor. He says he did not expect things to get out of hand. This is what he witnessed. On arrival at the Kisumu/Kakamega junction he met the first roadblock manned by youth demanding 200 bob from each car. Of course one had to act like a total ODM supporter to get through besides the money.
Firstly. The rape (looting) of Kisumu town began on Saturday morning from 9pm. Way before results were in contention. Other sources say that tensions due to suspicion of rigging caused by the delay in the announcement of the results triggered this early violence.
The interesting thing is that this was going on for whole day until 5pm when the government finally realized the severity of the situation and flew in GSU troops to restore order. People just waited for shops to open then all hell broke loose.
Folks went straight for supermarkets and petrol stations, liquor stores, electronics and shoe shops. There was major collusion from the police force. Once shops were open and being looted, police at times mingled with the looters and carried goods to their own landrovers. In other incidents the police would arrest people carrying looted goods and load them into landrovers. Then as they drive they would ask, 'unataka kuenda stationi' of course people would decline and they would stop the vehicle and order them out. Of course the goods would remain with the police.
Kisumu is devastated far more seriously than even the media have shown. A week ago prices of foodstuffs had shot up to double and even triple their old prices. There is a shortage of water and food and some face the real possibility of starvation as Kisumu is a net importer of foodstuffs from Kakamega and North rift which have been interrupted by the fighting.
Recently Kisumu businessmen have been seen in Eldoret buying maize and other wholesale foodstuffs to take back to Kisumu.
The man who had gone to purchase the tractor spares then tried to leave Kisumu but the police told him it was too dangerous to travel. This man moved on to Bureti. He was stopped at Awasi. Again youth extorted money from him. He noted that just outside Kisumu the two petrol stations adjacent to the Nakumatt mega were burnt and looted. One belonged to a Kikuyu and the other to a Kisii.
In Bureti he heard rumours that a contingent of AP's were on the way to Migori with stuffed ballot boxes. This is what raised the hackes of Migori residents and they waited in ambush. This rumour is what led to the killing of the AP's. Meanwhile KASS radio were asking people to go to the aid of their brothers who were being killed in Migori (the AP's were stationed in Bureti and most were Kalenjin).
With hindsite the man says that the rumour was started by KTN when Njoroge Mwaura said in a news broadcast that buses had been seen driving from Nairobi with AP's and ballot boxes (City Hoppa and KBS). Later KTN called government spokesman who clarified that due to a shortage of transport the buses had been hired to take AP's to different parts of the country to enhance security operations. Well the damage was done. One AP in Migori even pleaded with crowd saying that if they could find a single ballot paper he would resign there and then.
The man traveled back to Nandi. From Kisumu to Chemelil there were a number of roadblocks but he noticed now that it was the enterprising Kenyans making a living. Especially towards Nandi, those who live along the roadside were getting a few youths and setting up their own road blocks basically family affairs (trust Kenyans) then extorting money from motorists. The mzee of the house would sit a distance away and watching his sons and nephews work.
Meanwhile other "enterprising" Nandis took advantage to set Moi's Nandi tea farm on fire. They just spread a rumour that Moi was actually there and the crowds did the rest. They then moved in to pick up the spoilts and loot the place. Same thing happened to former president Moi's Kipkabus farm
Back in Eldoret it was the Luos who were doing the looting after hearing what was going on in Kisumu. Eldoret has a huge resident Luo community. The Kalenjin themselves are not so interested in household goods. They were busier in the outlying areas burning and looting Kikuyu and Kisii owned properties. Their pride was any livestock they could find. In Uasin Gishu there was feasting for days as they said they should kill and eat as much of the livestock as possible so there would be no evidence.
Meanwhile in upper North Rift the Samburu were having it rough. They supported ODM while the Pokot (who now have 2 ministers) were PNU. The Pokot have started their raids again. Their youth have also found a new trick. Believe it or not. My man witnessed it, they have discovered a way of changing permanently the colour of a stolen cow.
They dig a pit and fill it with still-warm ash. The cows are forced into the pit and kept there for a whole day only being fed water. When released, voila, the colour has changed and even if washed it remains a grey shade. So those who come to check for stolen cattle will see a familiar head but different colour.
Posted by Chris at 10:10 PM