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.

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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.

Kisumu woman raped, husband killed and home burnt

The witness is a 49 year old farmer and mother of 12 children of whom seven remain alive. She lives in Kisumu. This study demonstrates the desperate personal situation that some victims have found themselves in as a result of the Post Election Violence.

“I have lived in Kisumu throughout my married life. My neighbours were Luos and Kisiis, the majority of them being the Luos. Before the violence, we used to live well with our Kisii neighbours. We were good friends.

On 15 January, 2008, I went to the family shamba, but this time I was alone. I went there to get vegetables for the family. It was about 11 am in the morning. As soon as I started plucking the vegetables, on turning I saw 5 men coming towards me. They were young men, dressed in trousers and vests. The conspicuous thing about them is that they had ‘rastas’ – dreadlocks.’

They said to me ‘Ooh wewe ndio unasikia mzuri, unachuna mboga na sisi tunasikia mbaya? Sasa tumepata (oh you are the person feeling good … you are still plucking vegetables when we are feeling bad … now we have found you.) I was not able to tell their tribes because they were all speaking in Kiswahili and they all had dreadlocks.

One of the men held me on the waist, lifted me and threw me on the ground. Another man tore my panties and they started raping. One held my mouth so that I do not scream. I was trying to keep my legs together but one man held one of my legs while another held my other leg and kept my legs apart. There were no houses nearby. They raped me in turns. All the men raped me. Once they were done with me, they headed to a bush on the way to Nyalenda. The bushes are near River Nyamasaria.

I was not even able to pluck the vegetables that I had gone to cut. I just picked my basket and headed home. I was walking slowly. I was under a lot of pain; my hips were paining very much. I got to my house at around 4 pm. I told my husband, who was at home by then, of what had happened to me. I did not go to the hospital then because the roads were impassable. I still haven’t gone to the hospital to seek medical advice. I fear that since I have taken long before going to the hospital, the people at the hospital may never understand my predicament. I also did not report this to the police.

I still live in my house which was burnt before the rape, and I fear that should it be very windy, the wind is going to blow off the roof. I have not been able to repair my house and when it rains, water gets into my house. My husband passed away on 23 February 2008 at his place of work where he had been employed as a watchman. He was employed at the Wandiege Primary School.

On the night of 23 February, 2008, my husband was attacked by unknown people, killed and placed in a classroom. His body was picked by the police officers from Kondele Police station on 24 February 2008. They still have not done any investigation to ascertain who killed my husband.

I have been affected by post election violence. My life has changed since I was raped, my house was burnt and the death of my husband. I do not have a livelihood. My husband is dead and there is no income. I do not even know who will rebuild my house. I rely on people to help me. The clothes that my children wear, those that I wear, beddings have all come from people. Food has been a problem. I have to sell some vegetables to get some flour.”

Waki Report: Luo men forcibly circumcised

Dr Kariuki Gichuki, the current Medical Officer  of Health for Nakuru confirmed having received six cases of forced circumcision which he described as ‘traumatic circumcision.’

“… Usually circumcision, either you are in the hospital or in a traditional setting that is clean. The procedure is a boundary kind of surgical procedure but this one was a bit crude and not orderly.”

The doctor further referred to the cases as ones of ‘pilary amputation’ and explained that ‘usually, circumcision is the surgical removal of foreskin but in [a particular case] the 22 year old male had his whole penis actually cut’.

A married Luo woman with two children, originally from Huruma estate in Nairobi but displaced to an IDP camp testified in camera as follows:

“I heard many people outside saying that “even here there are some ODM people we want to circumcise”.They were many and were making a lot of noise. They pushed the door saying that ‘Kihii (Kikuyu for uncircumcised man) you are the ones troubling us! I saw my husband lying down. They opened his zip, lifted his penis and cut it with a panga. I managed to slip away and one alerted them and they said I should go away and that it is my husband they wanted to teach a lesson and circumcise.”

As a result of this attack her husband died due to the injuries sustained during this hideous incident.

In explaining the extent to which some victims suffered in the hands of such gangs, a woman, whose testimony has been referred to previously in camera said:

“I found that my brother’s penis had been cut and placed on his mouth, his testis were chopped off and placed on his hand. I found that blood was still pouring out of his body and he was kicking as he was dying. The following day, another workmate of mine informed me that my brother’s head had been chopped off and that dogs were eating his private parts. My brother was clobbered before he was mutilated. The people who did that to him were using spiked clubs. They had fixed nails on the club and as they hit his face, the nails would pluck flesh from his body”.

Your reaction on the Waki Report

The Commission of Inquiry on Post Election Violence (CIPEV) led by Justice Philip Waki released its report last Thursday.

The report puts most of the blame on President Mwai Kibaki and Kenya’s security forces for the deaths of over 1,000 people in violence that rocked the country between January and March this year.

There are those who believe the Waki report ignored the speeches and actions of politicians in the ODM party who were recorded championing ethnic supremacism.

We are asking our readers for their reaction to the Waki report. Please email your comments to nairobichronicle@live.com. Your comments will be included in a forthcoming article that will discuss the Waki report.

To read the report, please click on this link >>