By Wahome Thuku
Kenya: A witness has exonerated Deputy President William Ruto from claims that he used the Kiswahili word madoadoa (spots) in Nandi Hills to incite members of the Kalenjin community to engage in violence ahead of the 2007 elections.
Witness 409 told the International Criminal Court that neither Ruto nor former Cabinet minister Henry Kosgey used the word in the five political rallies he attended.
However, the witness said the two leaders talked about clothes of different colours to refer to non-Kalenjins.
They used parables, which he understood to mean that non-Kalenjin living in Nandi Hills should be removed.
Madoadoa has featured in the case as one of the coded words used by Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang to refer to non-Kalenjins, who were to be targeted for attacks and eviction from the area.
“I did not hear Kosgey or Ruto use the word madoadoa. They used the example of clothes,” he said.
At one point, the proceedings were turned into a learning session as the witness, a non-Kalenjin speaker, engaged defence lawyer Katwa Kigen in different interpretations and use of the word suswek (grass).
He interpreted the word in Kiswahili as nyasi (grass) and magugu (weeds). He described magugu as a mixture of grasses, prompting Presiding Judge Eboe Osuji to intervene.
Osuji: If I have a garden of roses and one morning I find wild plants growing in it, what would you call that in Kiswahili?”
Witness: I would call that magugu.
Osuji: Do you understand suswek to mean magugu?
Osuji: Do you also know the word suswek to mean nyasi?
Osuji: Are you telling us that nyasi and magugu mean the same thing?
Witness: I didn’t say it means the same thing. Magugu is what grows in planted grass.
Osuji: What do you understand suswek to mean in the context in which the expression has been used here all along?
The witness claimed Ruto and Kosgey used five Kalenjin parables, which they repeated word for word in three rallies.
“The phrases were used seven years ago, and you are saying you can remember the exact words?” the lawyer asked as the witness responded in the affirmative.