Fake colleges and painful losses for students

A couple of years ago, hundreds of people about to graduate after long-distance courses with a foreign university were suddenly told that their degrees were only good for toilet paper.

There were protests from the graduands. Many had called parties to celebrate their achievement. The Commission for Higher Education dismissed their efforts saying their degrees would not be recognized in Kenya. Inspite of the scandal, thousands of Kenyans continue to lose their hard-earned cash to unscrupulous individuals pretending to offer academic programmes.

Kenyans are among the most ambitious people in Africa. Their quest for prosperity has landed them in all the corners of the world. The desire for self-improvement is pushing many people into acquiring higher academic qualifications as the job market gets very competitive. As a matter of fact, without a minimum of diploma in Kenya’s job market, your chances of material success are greatly diminished unless you make it big in business.

A decade ago, anyone with an undergraduate degree was assured of a job. Today, jobs that were done by first degree holders now demand a Masters. Companies that employed high school leavers in the 1980s now insist on a degree before they even look at you. Computerization has eliminated many of the jobs that low-skilled personnel hope to get.

Education is financially expensive and the desire for academic qualifications has given rise to shady colleges. Unfortunately, by the time its discovered that papers from these colleges are worthless, its usually after heavy financial losses in the form of fees.

The classes offered by these colleges are sub-standard at best. Students have to share computers and there isn’t enough exposure to gain the ICT skills necessary in today’s labour market. Lecturers are employed informally; in some cases, lecturers are students in other colleges!

There are journalism schools that do not have a single camera or a regular publication for students to practice. Library facilities are a joke, if at all they exist.

With these characteristics, its hardly surprising that some Kenyans opt to buy degrees from forgery experts. There really is no difference between buying a fake degree and attending shoddy colleges. The result is a culture of incompetence across Kenya’s public and corporate sector.

In workplaces across the country, will be found employees who don’t care about their jobs. Customer service is nothing to speak about. Bosses with questionable qualifications break every rule in the Human Resource Management book. All these are caused by unqualified people doing jobs they cannot handle and the growth of unregulated colleges is largely to blame.

But where is the government as Kenyans continue pumping billions of shillings into bogus academic papers?

According to the Business Daily, the Commission for Higher Education (CHE) lacks the ability to monitor colleges. This has seen the Commission revert to a wait and see attitude, relying mostly on complaints from students, parents and the general public.

The CHE is a state body with the responsibility of overseeing the establishment and accreditation of private universities and tertiary institutions. CHE has already raised a red flag over a deluge of complaints from parents and students who had paid millions of shillings to shady colleges. CHE secretary Prof Everett Standa says the Commission has finalized a national audit on all institutions.

Kenya’s public universities are stretched to the limit by student numbers, hence there is huge unsatisfied demand for education in alternative facilities. Private universities exist but their fees are so high as to put them out of reach for the majority. A typical bachelors degree in a private university costs about Kshs600,000 (US$8,000) in a country with 60% poverty rate and 40% unemployment.

With inadequate government funding, public universities are adopting many of the tactics of bogus colleges in order to survive. The result is rising enrollment with no regard to academic facilities. Lecturers are overworked as they try to maximize their income by teaching as many classes as possible.

At the University of Nairobi, which has the greatest number of private students, three-hour lectures have been cut down to two hours though the length of each semester remains the same. That means fewer contact hours between teachers and students.

The CHE has been criticized for over-reacting when its too late. Like other organs of the Kenyan government, the CHE only re-surfaces when conducting “crackdowns” that disrupt the innocent more than they punish the guilty. Sustained vigilance is cheaper and more effective in the long-term than occasional, high profile closures of genuine academic institutions.

What then can the average Kenyan do to make sure they acquire academic qualifications at the right place? Its important to deal with institutions directly and not to trust intermediaries unless recommended by that particular education institution.

For instance, if you wish to do a correspondence course with Oxford University, or Harvard or UNISA (University of South Africa), get in touch with them directly. If they recommend use of a third party, then its probably legitimate. Do not fall for media advertisements by people claiming to be accredited to this or that university. Most of the time, such links are extremely shaky. Just because somebody claims to have the support of a prestigious university does not mean its true. And just because somebody attended a famous college does not make them recruiter-in-chief.

Its important to insist on colleges that offer examinations from reputable bodies, such as the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) and the Kenya Accountants and Secretaries National Examinations Board (KASNEB). Examinations from KNEC and KASNEB are recognized internationally. Back street colleges do not offer credible examinations and you may find it difficult convincing employers as to your academic achievements.

Do not join shady colleges for the sake of helping a friend who owns the college. It is your future at stake. If you must join such a college, insist on everything following the correct procedure, including the setting of examinations by national bodies like KNEC and KASNEB. Otherwise, your friendship will come to an end when you realize you wasted your money on toilet paper qualifications.

My high school headmaster used to tell us during the chilly morning assemblies that there is no shortcut to education. You read: you pass. You don’t read: you fail.

Its that simple.

Giant cabinet fails over Waki Report

Kenya’s giant 42-member cabinet failed this week to discuss a judicial report implicating its members in violence that killed 1,500 people.

A Cabinet meeting called by President Mwai Kibaki on Thursday was widely expected to decide a government position regarding the report. Currently, the coalition parties – Kibaki’s PNU, Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM and the Vice President’s ODM-K – are split on what to do about Judge Philip Waki’s recommendations.

The Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence (CIPEV) was formed as part of the peace agreement between Kibaki and Raila following disputed elections in December 2007. Violence between their supporters resulted in 1,500 dead and close to half a million homeless.

CIPEV has implicated at least six close allies of the President and Prime Minister in the violence, which involved lynchings, hackings, gang rapes and mutilation.

The suspected ethnic warlords in the cabinet have denounced the Waki Report. So strong was the backlash in ODM that a split was imminent after party leader Prime Minister Raila Odinga, supported prosecution for planners of violence. In this, the Prime Minister was seen as pre-occupied with the Naivasha violence where people from his Luo ethnic group were attacked. Apparently, Raila did not realize that in calling for prosecution for Naivasha violence, he would inevitably open the door for ODM supporters elsewhere to face justice over crimes against humanity.

ODM Members of Parliament openly defied their leader as they closed ranks to protect their own. Meanwhile, PNU initially dismissed the report for recommending trials for supporters of President Kibaki. The Waki Report says that a meeting was held at State House to plot the Naivasha attacks but PNU and Kibaki deny such a meeting took place. As PNU puts it, the chaos at Naivasha and Nakuru was retaliation by the Kikuyu for similar violence targetting their kinsfolk in ODM strongholds.

As so many of Kenya’s politicians are implicated in the post election violence, its beginning to appear that a government-led prosecution will be difficult to commence. In effect, the government would be prosecuting itself.

However, the Waki Report has a self-activating mechanism: Should the Kenyan government fail to act by December, the task of prosecuting Kenya’s cruel and corrupt leaders will automatically fall under the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. Already, media reports quote the ICC’s chief prosecutor saying he is ready for the work.

Many of the displaced are yet to return to their former homes as ethnic tension persists in the countryside. Its not only the victims of violence that want justice. There are fears that without punishment for inciters of ethnic cleansing, worse troubles are in store for the country. The next General Election is due in 2012 and presidential campaigns have already began along ethnic lines.

Kenya’s politicians are reportedly having sleepless nights as they await what is described as the “Hague Express.”

Kenyan politicians will face trial

By the Daily Nation

As Kenyan politicians resist moves to pay taxes, the International Criminal Court has warned that it will take over the cases of the names contained in a secret envelope handed to Kofi Annan.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said if Kenya failed to try the suspects of post-election violence, then the court will move in to start investigations and prosecute those involved.

If the Government starts the implementation process from tomorrow, it has up to February 28 to enact the laws and form a local tribunal. However, if it fails to start the process, the envelope will automatically be handed over to the ICC on March 1 – the end of the 135-day timetable contained in the Waki report.

More on this story from the Daily Nation >>

Raila, Kalonzo reject Waki Report

BY Michael Mumo and Bernard Momanyi (Capital FM)

The Waki report on post-poll violence got further bashing on Thursday, after Prime Minister Raila Odinga beat a hasty retreat and led 75 Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) MPs in rejecting it.

Mr Odinga, who has been vocal in pressing for the full implementation of the report, chaired a four-and a-half hour ODM parliamentary group meeting which declared that the report had “incurable errors, defects and fundamental constitutional contradictions.”

The Prime Minister sat to the right of the Parliamentary Group Secretary Ababu Namwamba as he read out the statement. Mr Namwamba said contents of the secret envelope that was handed over to the chief mediator of the Kenya peace talks former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan could not be subjected to legal proceedings or investigation within or outside Kenya.

“ODM being part of the coalition government will resist and stop any rendition or surrender of Kenya citizens to a tribunal outside its territory as the national jurisdiction and national systems have not collapsed.”

The position taken by ODM came barely hours after the American and German Ambassadors urged President Kibaki and Mr Odinga to implement the Waki report in full as a way of ending the culture of impunity in Kenya.

But speaking elsewhere, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka appeared to take the same route as ODM, saying report should not be implemented in full since it would open up wounds that had started to heal.

Mr Musyoka said it was regrettable that several people were killed during the post-election violence but warned that if careers of politicians implicated in the violence were destroyed it would be detrimental to the healing process in the country.

More on this story from Capital FM news >>

Rejection by Kenya’s government of the Waki Report on post election violence is likely to cause discontent among a public eager to see justice amidst rising ethnic tension sparked by a fractious ruling elite.

The Commission of inquiry into Post Election Violence implicated senior politicians allied to President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in ethnic clashes that killed over 1,000 Kenyans early this year. The violence was a result of disputed elections between Kibaki and Raila. International mediation efforts led by Koffi Annan brokered a coalition between the two in March. However, blame over the violence continues.

The Commission was chaired by judge Philip Waki who recommended the prosecution before an international tribunal of all politicians linked with ethnic incitement and financing of the clashes.

Prominent careers in political toilet

The Waki Report on post election violence has consigned the careers of Kenya’s top politicians into the toilet of collective memory among the citizens of the republic.

Indeed, the post election violence that killed at least 1,000 Kenyans and made half a million refugees in their own country has irredeemably tainted Kenya’s top political leadership.

Citizens across the republic are pondering in groups how they could have allowed themselves to be manipulated by a conniving class of political hypocrites who are now engorging themselves on the country’s meagre riches, while belching out incredible statements of forgiveness.

For the past five years, Kenyans were fed an endless diet of ethnic hatred by politicians unable to see far beyond their distended bellies. Ethnic groups were incited against each other, and made to believe that their poverty and misery was caused by the opposing side. Come the elections of 2007, five years of instigation erupted into an orgy of violence.

State authority collapsed in most parts of the country, especially the Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza provinces. Government offices were looted, police officers killed and infrastructure blown up. Thousands of people were attacked, raped and killed as property went up in flames. The blame for the near collapse of Kenya falls on the political classes, whose selfishness has astounded the international community.

Now, the chickens are finally coming home to roost for Kenya’s cruel and corrupt leaders thanks to the Waki Report on post election violence. Of course, the political players would rather turn the Waki Report into toilet paper, but it is they who are going down the political sewer tubes, hopefully, for good.

As the Waki Report explains, President Mwai Kibaki cannot escape blame for the sorry state of affairs Kenya finds itself entangled in. His weak leadership allowed the rise of demagogues across the ethnic divide who exploited the resultant vacuum to raise hateful temperatures. Kibaki’s behavior can be described as negligent at best and incompetent at worst.

In the future, Kenyans will remember Kibaki more for his weak leadership than for anything else. Kibaki spent his first term in office trying to make the economy grow, which it did briefly in 2006 – 2007. However, all that growth was destroyed within the first three months of 2008, in effect negating all of his handiwork.

Kenyans will recall Kibaki as a leader who failed to unite the people, who allowed corruption to fester during his term of office, and who allowed impunity to rule. The deaths of 1,000 people in ethnic clashes will forever blot all recollection of his memory. The callous killings of 500 Kikuyu youths for alleged Mungiki membership will not be forgotten any time soon. If anything, the only reason the Kikuyu voted for Kibaki was because there did not exist a viable alternative.

And the reason why that alternative did not exist was because Prime Minister Raila Odinga was making bellicose statements that only added to ethnic incitement in the country. Moving across Kenya describing the Kikuyu as “adui” or enemy is not exactly the hallmark of a statesman. Raila and his ODM party made the Kikuyu a scapegoat for all of Kenya’s problems.

The violence of 2008 was largely the consequence of such loose, irresponsible talk. Though Kenyans are credited for having short memories, its highly unlikely that Raila can comfortably win the country’s presidency because of his recent past. Hardly surprising then, that his lieutenants are proposing that the president be elected by parliament. Its easier to convince 222 legislators to vote for you than to campaign for votes among 18 million voters. For that, Raila’s place in the political toilet is guaranteed.

It is impossible for the likes of Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Najib Balala and Musalia Mudavadi to make it into the presidency. Their reputations have irredeemably been scorched through their links to violence. Even though they may not have engaged in actual acts of violence against other Kenyans, the fact that they did little to stop it implies guilt by association. Instead of stopping violence in their constituencies, they kept quiet. Mudavadi even went for holiday at the coast.

Kenyans should realize that the path towards achieving justice for the victims of violence will not be easy. The guilty parties have in their control vast wealth and power which they will use to frustrate prosecution. In any case, the Attorney General is one of their own and he has already described the Waki Report as lacking in evidence.

Faced with the prospects of international prosecution, the Kenyan ruling elite is banding together while calling for a “homegrown” solution. Political entities named in the Waki Report should not be allowed to continue with their endless proselytizing at the expense of innocent lives among the majority poor.

Just a few months ago, clarion calls of, “No justice, No peace” rent the air as the political elites exploited ordinary citizens in the battle for state control – and the rewards that go with it. At the time, intellectual mercenaries-for-hire wrote acres of newspaper columns trying to explain that the absence of war was not peace.

Now, the same same intellectuals are trying to justify the inexcusable, claiming that prosecuting the masterminds of post election violence will disrupt peace and spark off fresh chaos. If these academics could not value peace early this year, why is peace suddenly so important to them now? For behaving like characters of loose morals who will do anything for small money, these pseudo intellectuals have earned their place in the national toilet.

Amidst the recriminations of Kenya’s zero leadership, who will be the winner? For once, the ordinary Kenyan has seen that the political class do not care about the people’s interests. The exposure of the rotting carcass of Kenya’s leaders is good news for those hoping for a leadership revolution in the country.

A new class of fresh, untainted and committed persons is sorely needed to lead the people into an epoch of unity and prosperity for all. The Waki Report should be the starting point for the much-needed political purge. Yes, it will be painful but what is the alternative?

Kenya set to get truth commission

Kenya’s parliament has approved a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to probe human rights violations and historical injustices.

Those found guilty of genocide and other human rights violations will not be eligible for amnesty. The move comes amidst debate on how to deal with those implicated in the violence that broke out after the disputed elections of December 2007.

More on this story from the BBC >>

Giant cabinet in panic over ethnic clashes

Kenya’s giant cabinet is paralyzed in panic as a judicial report on ethnic clashes implicates key allies of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Judge Waki declined to name the politicians in his report but the suspects are widely known, both within the republic and in the diaspora.

Last week’s release of the report on post election violence by Justice Philip Waki has created panic among Kenya’s political elite, long accustomed to exploiting ethnic differences to maintain a tenacious hold on political and economic resources in the country.

Top politicians in Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM party were found to have incited ethnic hatred mostly against President Kibaki’s supporters from the Kikuyu, Kisii, Meru and Kamba tribes. Though ODM says the violence after the December polls were a spontaneous reaction to a rigged process, the Waki Commission discovered that politicians actually paid criminal gangs to kill, rape and loot.

There was a graduated scale of payment for killing a man, woman, pregnant woman, boy and girl child. There was also a reward scale for destroying property – mud houses attracted the least pay. At the Kenya coast, a well-known politician payed youths Kshs300 (US$4) per day to wreck havoc on highways, shops and bars.

On President Kibaki’s side, it is established that top Kikuyu politicians and businesspeople met to plot revenge attacks against the Kalenjin, Luo and Luhya. By late January 2008, the politicians apparently felt that the government was not acting to stop ethnic clashes. The Mungiki group was contacted and its youths used to attack and kill people from pro-ODM tribes in the towns of Naivasha and Nakuru.

Judge Waki declined to name the politicians in his report but the possible list of suspects is widely known among the Kenyan public, both in the republic and in the diaspora. Topping the list is Agriculture Minister William Ruto, a key ally of the Prime Minister. Others include Henry Kosgey, William ole Ntimama and Najib Balala.

On President Kibaki’s side are such personalities as Uhuru Kenyatta, Njenga Karume and Jayne Kihara.

Not surprisingly, neither Kibaki nor Raila want to lose their key supporters. With ethnic politics still very intense, any move against the guilty individuals is likely to stoke resentment from their respective tribes. Inspite of the grievousness of the crimes witnessed early this year, each tribe believes it was fighting a just cause.

Last week, during a peace rally in Nakuru, Kibaki astounded many by calling on the victims of ethnic clashes to “forgive and forget.” Later, while in a Kenyatta Day address broadcast nationally, the president emphasized on forgiveness. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Raila Odinga is against the prosecution of ethnic warlords. According to the Standard daily, Raila said: “Leave retribution to the Lord. We do not want to revenge against anybody, we want to build and construct our society.”

What is not in dispute is the fact that politicians incited inter ethnic animosity during last year’s presidential and parliamentary campaigns. Rather than campaign on pertinent issues touching on development, infrastructure, healthcare and jobs, politicians played the ethnic card to whip up emotions among the voting public.

The Luo and Kalenjin were told that they were poor because President Mwai Kibaki is a Kikuyu. The Luhya ethnic group was urged to support ODM because one of their sons – Musalia Mudavadi – would be made Vice President.

President Kibaki’s supporters warned the Kikuyu never to vote for Raila because his Luo tribe does not practice circumcision. The Kikuyu were repeatedly told that, should ODM form the government, all their land and property would be taken over by Luo, Kalenjin and Mijikenda without compensation.

ODM made rigging claims against Kibaki but was unable to prove the allegations before the Waki Inquiry. As a result of the claims several dozen police officers were lynched by ODM supporters during the election, setting the stage for a near-collapse of state authority in consequent violence.

Ethnic incitement raised the stakes in the election so high that violence was going to erupt regardless of who the actual winner was.

As Kenya’s people struggle to rebuild their lives, the hope for justice is what keeps the hundreds of thousands of victims going. They quietly pray for the day when they shall face the people that killed their loved ones, raped and burnt homes.

To the vast majority of Kenyans, calls by the country’s leadership for leniency are a sordid indictment of the state of their country’s politics. Short of divine intervention, there’s very little that Kenya’s struggling citizens can do about it.

Land not the cause of clashes – Ruto

Controversial ODM Member of Parliament, William Ruto, told the Waki Commission of Inquiry that land ownership is not responsible for rampant ethnic clashes in the Rift Valley province.

Ruto told the Commission, “The issue of the post election violence is not land, let nobody cheat you. Kikuyus always sit on the land and the only problem is at the end of 5 years. It is all politics. Land is just an excuse.”

The legislator, whose clout among the Kalenjin ethnic group has grown in the past year, noted that “our politics acquires ethnic dimensions” and communities support parties where “their leaders are at the front and that is one thing we have to change.”

Ruto defended his people from accusations of warlike behaviour, remarking that “there is no DNA for people to fight.”

Mr Ruto is quoted in a report released on 16th October by the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence. The Commission was headed by High Court judge, Philip Waki. Last Friday, the report was handed to President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and mediator, Koffi Annan.

Meanwhile, Judge Waki gave Koffi Annan an enclosed envelope containing names of ten prominent individuals believed to have instigated and sponsored the violence. At least 1,000 people died between December 2007 and March 2008 in an orgy of looting, rape, murder and arson. Hundreds of thousands were made homeless with most still living in camps as ethnic tension persists.

As Member of Parliament for Eldoret North, Ruto is blamed for post election violence in the Uasin Gishu area, where the town of Eldoret lies. Ruto has denied the allegations. In January alone, more than a third of Eldoret’s population fled into camps after attacks by Kalenjin warriors. Most of the victims were from the Kikuyu, Kisii, Luhya and Kamba ethnic groups.

The warriors usually accuse migrant tribes of taking over what they refer as Kalenjin ancestral land and dominating commercial activities. However, Ruto’s statements to the Waki Commission indicate that the motives for the violence are tied to political rivalry.

In his testimony to the Commission, Ruto blamed Kalenjin attacks against the Kikuyu on “a combination of factors”, including the history of violence since 1992. According to Ruto, inter ethnic friction is higher in Uasin Gishu than any other area because of the cosmopolitan makeup of the district.

Ruto dismissed the land issue as a factor in the 2007 violence. He told the Commission, “The issue of the post election violence is not land … It is all politics. Land is just an excuse.”

Ruto finally said that the 2007 election was very polarized and, “the people in the Rift Valley believe that Kibaki oppressed them in the last 5 years. They voted more against Kibaki’s presidency than for Raila’s presidency.”

Ruto is a key backer of Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Gang rape as a political weapon – Waki Report

One of the well known and regrettable tragedies of major conflicts and breakdowns of law and order is sexual violence. This has happened around the world.

Youths armed with crude weapons during political and ethnic clashes in Kenya. Picture by AFP.

Youths armed with crude weapons during political and ethnic clashes in Kenya. Picture by AFP.

Sadly enough, it also was a consequence of the 2007 post election violence in Kenya. Below, the Nairobi Chronicle presents accounts by victims of sexual violence as contained in the Waki Report. Please be warned that the stories you are about to read may contain graphic and disturbing description.

Raped as husband is killed – Waki Report

Kisumu woman raped, husband killed and home burnt

Waki Report: Luo men forcibly circumcised

We have strived to bring stories from different parts of Kenya in order to demonstrate that all Kenyans suffered at the hands of a cruel, corrupt political elite that cares nothing for the welfare of its own people. The question is: for how long shall Kenyans put up with this?

Raped as husband is killed – Waki Report

On 1 January 2008, 36 year old Elizabeth W. and her husband were attacked in their house in Eldama Ravine by a group of Kalenjin, some of whom she knew. She was gang raped while her husband was being hacked to death and her shop looted. Following is an extract of her testimony:

They cut my husband on the neck with a panga and that made him fall to the ground. After that they were cutting every part of his body. One said that if I escaped from the knife and arrows, I would die of AIDS.

On 1 January 2008 we were still fearful. We didn’t open our business. I worked at the Eldama Ravine shopping centre at Mama Faith’s Shop. We owned the shop. It was just next to my house – they are joined together. But I stayed at home that day because I was scared. We left the shop locked up.

At about 3pm that day, people came to my home. At the time there was only my husband and me at home. My children had gone to visit their grandparents in Nyandarua. There were more than ten people who came. They were all men. They were dressed in coats and they had smeared mud on their faces so you could not recognize them. The mud was different colors on their faces – white, black and red patches all over their faces. They were armed. They had arrows, pangas and rungus.

The first I knew they were there was when I heard talking and noises outside. They were speaking in Kalenjin. They said “we have come to finish you”. The door was not locked so they just came inside. My husband and I were in the sitting room. We were sitting down but stood up when the men came in. When they came in I started pleading with them because of what I had heard them saying outside. I told them why were they doing this when we had lived with them.

They ordered me to shut up and said that the Kikuyu had migrated to the area and taken up their (the Kalenjin’s) property. They said I should keep quiet or they were going to kill me. So I just kept quiet. That is when they started attacking my husband. They were cutting him with pangas and piercing him with arrows. They were struggling with my husband and trying to get him to the ground. The men were crowding on him – it might have been most of them attacking my husband. I was scared. They cut my husband on the neck with a panga and that made him fall to the ground. It was a serious blow. After that they were cutting every part of his body..

After my husband was cut, but before he died, one of the men came towards me and asked me what I wanted to be done to me. I asked them not to kill me. One said we need to know what she is like, now that she never talks to us. There was another group of men who were looting my shop. I could see them from the door – it was still open. They were going past carrying property from my shop,such as sugar, cooking fat and other goods.

I was wearing trousers with buttons at the waist. The men tore at my trousers trying to get them open and the buttons came off. There were about four of them there doing this to me at that time. They lifted me up and put me on the ground. They were arguing among themselves who was going to be first. Then one said that if I escaped from the knife and arrows, I would die of AIDS.

Some of them held my legs and some held my hands while they raped me. When this was happening my husband and I were both still in the sitting room, but by now I was not watching my husband but pleading my own case. The last time I had looked, it was like he was dead. He wasn’t moving.

One man raped me and then the second one and the third. They put their penises in my vagina. It was either the second or the third man who said they were not able to get in me properly so they cut me. I think it was the panga they were carrying that they used. They cut my vagina. When I had my children, the Doctor told me I had a narrow opening. Both my children were born by caesarean. They continued raping me. It was when the fourth man was raping me that I went unconscious ?

I next remember – and it is vague – that a Kalenjin friend of ours called Joseph was there and he was pleading with the men. He was asking them for him to be allowed to take the body of my husband and take me to hospital. The men started quarrelling with him and told him that he was in partnership with us. They threatened to kill him.

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