After months of political push and pull that resulted in death and suffering across the political divide, Kenyans are slowly picking up the pieces. As the political class moves chess pieces hoping to check mate their rivals with every play, those who bore the brunt of the chaos that momentarily rocked parts of the country painfully trudge along.
The injured are nursing wounds, with some admitted to hospital days after the swearing in of President Uhuru Kenyatta. Reports of women dragged from their houses and raped cut through an uneasy calm that has slowly descended in areas that witnessed the worst of the violence. Uncertainty still looms especially in slums. “We wonder how people will recover from the things they witnessed here. It was scary,” says Joseph Ochieng’, chairman of Mathare 4A vigilante group in Nairobi.
His message is reinforced by the vacant houses in Mathare and Kibera whose owners fled when the gun shots, chants, and cries for blood got too loud. The soot from tyres that youths used to light bonfires is beginning to fade; but the memories of their experiences, just like the pungent, acrid smell of burning tyres and teargas, remain.
Slowly, society is weaving itself together again. Slowly, tenants are returning to their once abandoned houses. Slowly, the toll from the orgy of violence is sinking in. Slowly, mothers are starting to think of life without their sons, and wives of life without their husbands and daughters of a fatherless existence.
Sunday Standard visited some victims of the violence and takes count of the toll of bad politics.
Stephen Masese Mbuluka (Lost his nephew)
Masese was watching news at home last Friday when he heard a loud knock on his door.
“Your boy has been shot! Come outside immediately,” said one of the men who were standing by his door. It was slightly past 5.00 pm.
He could not understand. His 17 year old nephew Stephen Masese was visiting from Machakos for December holiday. The form three student, an orphan who he had taken care of since childhood had left home in the morning to visit his grandmother who stays a few kilometres away.
“I ran out, and found him felled by a bullet. He was still lying in a pool of his blood when I got to there,” says Mbuluka.
He was breathing. His eyes partly open, struggling to talk. Mbuluka tried calling for help, but the area was completely impassable.
“No ambulance could come because of the tear gas and gun shots,” says Beth Muania, Masese’s aunt.
By the time he was wheeled into hospital, he was taking his last breaths.
“He was too young to die. He did not even vote. He should not have died,” says Mbuluka.
Boniface Atito (lost his brother)
When the call came, Boniface Atito who works in a city hotel immediately knew something was not right. He says he got the chills when the caller asked him if he had checked on his 22 year old brother Fannuel[MAO1] Amule in Mathare North. It was 10.00 pm, a few hours after Uhuru Kenyatta had been declared president in August.
He rushed to his brother’s house, and it is then that reality hit. Fannuel was dead. In the chaos, he was knocked two bullets on the head, killing him instantly. A few meters away, Fannuel’s door remained ajar, radio still on, playing his favourite music.
A bullet was still lodged on his head, indicating an end of his career as an entrepreneur who made reed chairs and sold in exhibitions.
Fannuel’s sudden death came a few weeks after their sister succumbed to illness.
“Nobody should ever go through that kind of pain,” says Atito.
Politicians came, condemned the brutality and promised to help. Then they left, and never returned. Their family had to bear the expenses that came with the sudden death.
“We lost a creative and hardworking man, who often talked of starting a family soon,” says Atito.
Collins Odhiambo (Slashed and injured)
Collins Odhiambo was returning home from work when he met armed youth engaging in protests. As soon as he alighted from the bash, they attacked, demanding for money.
“They were saying I cannot be working when young people are fighting the ‘battle of liberation’, says the upcoming gospel artist.
He tried running. One of the men grabbed him and passed a panga along his chest. Another slashed his arm while others emptied his pockets. By the time they were done with him, he was lying helpless on the ground, profusely bleeding.
He considers himself lucky, saying there are many people who were maimed as they returned from work. He also tells of scary tales where people lost limbs, property and some had to flee when youths turned rowdy in Mathare.
“I still feel pain whenever I try breathing. I just hope it is nothing serious. I have no money to go and have it checked,” says Odhiambo.
Jalon Onyango (Escaped with bullet wound)
Jalon, a small scale trader at Gikomba watched as a crowd escorting Raila Odinga on his return from USA surged towards his shop. The police barricaded the area, giving a sense of security.
Gun shots started when the crowd got overwhelmingly close. The crowd dispersed, some heading to his directions. More gunshots, and one caught Jalon on the back of his neck, through to his collar bone.
“I fell. I remember thinking, this is it…I am dead. I told God to spare my life,” says the father of three.
He got lucky. The bullet missed his lung by inches. His friend Odhom Omondi who was standing next to him died.
He sits in his one roomed house, uncertain of what the future holds. He has never returned to Gikomba, and is not sure he will continue with the business.
“There is no hope. I still struggle to walk, and nobody knows when I will completely heal,” he says.