By Jeckonia Otieno
The overhead sun casts heat over the plain where the Tana River meanders its way into the Indian Ocean. The vast area is dry due to deficient rainfall.
Just as the river’s course changes many times during the rainy season in the flood plain without warning, the fragile peace among the communities coexisting in the delta has also turned out to be unpredictable and with distressing eventualities.
A man grazing his cattle near the river has a worried look — he is not sure what tomorrow will bring.
Ngonyo is one of the areas which have been seriously affected by the clashes that rocked the Tana Delta leading to the death of more than 100 people. It is the village near the bank of the river where those displaced from Kikomo have come to seek refuge.
When the clashes broke out, residents of Ngonyo hurriedly took off leaving a ghost village. But it did not stay desolate for long as residents escaping from other volatile areas such as Kikomo came in and occupied the space left by those fleeing.
Says Abdullahi Jalicha: “We were also escaping but when we got here we realised that there were no people so we decided to call this place home because it would be safer than where we came from.”
When there is conflict, some things in life don’t wait. One of the displaced women tells The Standard that she saw five women deliver as they escaped from Kikomo. It was a miracle, she says, because in giving life, the women had to contend with lack of medics, attackers and wild animals.
But all was well, as the women and their newborns arrived in Ngonyo safely.
But the huts are fewer than the people camped here. Some have constructed makeshift tents but still there are men who spend the night out as they leave the women and children to share the few available shelters.
They spend the night by the fire just in case there is any danger of attack.
But there is a problem. With a curfew in place that requires everyone to be indoors when it strikes 6pm, the people are confused since there are no houses.