Sunday, June 28, 2009
Drums Of War: Terrible Stuff Most Kenyans Don’t Know About
The Somali situation is very much in the news but many Kenyans have no idea that we have been at war with the Somalis before—and it was for a long time. There was heavy loss of life in that war (the numbers are still a closely guarded state secret) and in my book the Somalis won that war… easily. Indeed even Kenyans who were old enough to understand stuff in the 50s and 60s are hardly aware of how serious the Shifta war was. It lasted from 1964 to around 1968. Some people say significant skirmishes continued well into the 70s.
This is the war that the Kenyan government never wanted to acknowledge. At best it was always downplayed when the government did grudgingly agree that something was going on in Northern and North Eastern Kenya. Those Kenyans who knew that there was indeed a war going on were those who were touched by it like in the story I am about to tell.
But before I tell you my fascinating story about the “war that never was,” let me say that those who have been reading this blog for a long time are well aware of the fact that I have been shouting myself hoarse here warning about the time bomb that are the Somalis and that explosive part of Nairobi called Eastleigh which for all intents and purposes is really part of Mogadishu. If you doubt this then I also need to tell you that proven intelligence sources have indicated that dreaded Somali pirates come to Eastleigh to relax and enjoy their money from piracy activities while preparing to launch their next “mission.” You can find anything, and I mean anything in Eastleigh. From a US passport that will get you into America without any problem to some for the latest assault weapons. To be honest I don’t mind those quality suits that would ordinarily cost about Kshs 15,000 in parts of Nairobi but go for a paltry Kshs 1,500 in Eastleigh.
But let me get on with my story.
Mutunga (his real name) was a police constable and driver to a senior high ranking policeman in Isiolo. The year was 1967 and the Shifta war (which was mostly a guerilla war) was ongoing. Mutunga was driving his superior one lovely sunny afternoon when suddenly without any warning the police Landrover they were in was lifted high in the sky. They had hit a landmine. When the vehicle landed on the ground again with a thud Mutunga’s boss was badly injured with a suspected punctured lung. Mutunga himself was much worse off. Being at the front of the Landrover he had taken the full brunt of the mine. All the bones in his leg had been shattered and were almost powder. He was obviously in great pain.
Frantic efforts were made to radio Nairobi for an aircraft to airlift him for urgent medical attention in the city. The police officer running the operation got Mutunga’s boss to a hospital in Meru where the doctors grimly said that had he arrived moments later he would have almost certainly died because his lungs had stuck together after the explosion meaning that as he breathed there was no movement in his lungs. The police officer breathed a sigh of relief at the fact that one officer had been saved even as he battled to save Mutunga’s life. He finally convinced a “mzungu” pilot to land his small aircraft in the Isiolo airstrip after running police lorries across it several times up to the moment the aircraft started it’s final approach to ensure that there were no mines.
My source says that he will not forget that moment in the aircraft when he bid Mutunga goodbye giving him a bottle of water to sip (thirst is a sign of enormous internal bleeding). The brave policeman was still answering “Yes sir” as loudly as he could even as he lay there dying with his badly broken body. Radio contact was maintained as the aircraft flew back to Nairobi with its’ sole passenger. A humble police officer who had never been on an aircraft before. In those days aircrafts could not land at Wilson Airport at night because there was no electricity there yet. So as the aircraft approached Embakassi Airport the pilot heard some strange noise at the back of his aircraft. He did not need to look back to know that Mutunga had died minutes away from medical attention. The information was radioed back to Isiolo and the sad news was passed on to his colleagues. The Shifta war had claimed the precious life of yet another Kenyan.
Opinion is divided as to how that war finally petered off. Some say that President Kenyatta got the help of Tanzania president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who acted as a go-between and talked to the then Somali president Siad Barre of Somalia to “cool off.” Others say that the war just run out of steam as other priorities emerged for Somalis. Whatever happened the fact is that to this day the Somali flag has 5 stars on it and yet there are only 4 provinces in the country (at least there were at that time). The fifth province is 6 districts in Kenya namely Isiolo, Garissa, Moyale, Wajir, Marsabit (I forget the sixth). What I am saying is that the Somalis already have what appears to be a good enough reason to be at war with Kenya.
Incidentally the Tanzanians are very serious about their security. A few years ago some factions in Somalia invaded a remote part of that vast country. The response from Dar was immediate and decisive. The army was sent in and the problem was solved albeit with major loss to human life.
I personally witnessed a Somali man being refused entry into Tanzania at the Namanga border about 2 years ago. His papers were in order but immigration officials exercised their prerogative to deny entry.
Contrast that to Nairobi’s response. When a Kenyan immigration officer sees a Somali, they see money and a fat bribe. Tanzanian immigration officers are also corrupt but they know the sharp distinction between corruption that endangers national security and corruption that does not. Again former President Moi’s reason for allowing the influx of Somalis into the country was because the foreign exchange they brought in kept the country going at a difficult time. President Kibaki had a chance to tackle the problem but his response like in everything else has been inconsistent, disjointed, indecisive and devoid of any long term strategy. During Kibaki’s tenure, flights out of Wilson Airport to Somalia have been grounded at least twice for short periods of time. The border with Somalia has also been closed once only to be reopened. Army patrols on the same stretch of our porous borders started way too late.
Yet even a primary school child would have seen a long time ago that Somalis are a serious threat to our national security. For instance all the guns used in crime and murder in the country (save the ones belonging to policemen) come in from Somalia. You can be sure that political assassins are bound to use the same the hardware. The taxman also gets deprived of billions of shillings in taxes by the Somalis in Eastleigh. I am told that these days people import stuff from Dubai and receive it at Eastleigh. Yep Eastleigh is becoming an increasingly large inland port in Kenya.
The bottom line is that now it is way too late to do much about the Somalia issue except wait for what is inevitably coming to us.
People are talking about Kenyan soldiers launching offensives to protect the border. It’s fun talking about war and how tough the Kenya army is, but the truth is that this is laughable because if full scale war ever broke out, Somalis have a base to comfortably operate from and launch their attacks from that is right at the heart of Nairobi. I am talking about Eastleigh of course. How do you even begin to divide the Kenyan Somalis from the Somalia Somalis? And we should all know by now that the Somalis are masters of guerilla warfare (ask American Marines) so they will quickly neutralize Kenyans’ alleged massive military hardware and personnel to nought—just like they did in the 60s when they did not have an Eastleigh to operate from.
Will the last person leaving Kenya please remember to kill the lights.
DVD movies available in Kenya that Kumekucha has been watching
Posted by Chris at 3:21 AM