By Paul Gitau
A three-month-old baby, Asman Dahman, innocently lies at a manyatta in Riketa village in Tana Delta District.
Dahman cries to be breast-fed. The infant stretches his hands looking for something to eat in vain. Little does Dahman know that his mother, Safo Bocha, is no more. The infant’s father, Derman Guyo, and five other siblings were all killed by raiders who attacked the village, killing more than 52 other people and injuring others.
When we visited him in the neighbouring Dide Waride village where survivors of the massacre are hosted, Dahman is now depending on Hoshe Nyangu, an elderly woman who is a stranger to him but sucks her unyielding breasts at least to console him to fall asleep.
Dahman is among ten children orphaned after raiders butchered their parents. Wednesday, August 22, will never be erased in the minds of survivors of the Riketa massacre.
My interview with victims was on several occasions forced to end prematurely after they were overwhelmed by emotions on recalling the bizarre incident.
Abubakar Hanti had spent the night at the cattle shed watching over his animals due to insecurity but at around 5am, everything changed.
“I saw about 300 people armed with rifles, pangas and other crude weapons surround the area,” he recalls. Hanti could not raise alarm fearing for his life and hid at the cattle shed.
One group armed with guns surrounded the village while the rest torched houses. “Those who attempted to flee from the burning houses were slashed to death,” he recalls amid sobs.
Amid the confusion, he escaped and hid in the nearby mathenge bush. Rukia Gwiyo, a Standard Six pupil at Riketa Primary School says she had just woken up and was washing her face: “I heard gun shots and screams from neighboring homes.”
Upon moving out of their house, she saw men slashing to death anyone they came across.
“It happened so fast that I could not even alert my parents who were sleeping in a separate house, as the attackers had already moved very close,” she recalls.