Pokot leaders to sue UK for massacre of 100 morans
By Vincent Mabatuk
| April 28th 2016
Pokot leaders plan to sue the British government over the massacre of more than 100 Pokot morans in 1950.
Speaking at Koloa village in Tiaty, Baringo County, the leaders said they had already consulted their lawyers and would soon commence the legal battle.
West Pokot Governor Simon Kachapin, speaking on behalf of the leaders, said the killing was not justified, noting those targetted were innocent villagers and their families must be compensated fully.
Baringo County Assembly Speaker William Kamkat alleged that British citizens killed in the confrontation were compensated.
The lone survivor of the 1950 Koloa Massacre in Baringo County, gave a blow-by-blow account of how hundreds of Pokot men were brutally murdered by British police and their bodies buried in a mass grave.
Displaying a bullet scar above his right knee, 86-year-old Arumo Pulongor said he escaped death by a whisker after rolling into a fast flowing river and hid in the bush for days. He said more than 100 of his age mates died in the massacre.
The massacre happened on April 24, 1950, at Koloa, when a force of colonial police confronted Pokot messiah Lukas Pkech and his 300 spear-carrying followers.
It is not known whether Pkech’s men actually sparked off the confrontation by attacking the British force or whether District Officer Alan Stevens ordered his men to fire without provocation. What is clear is that by 2pm on the fateful day, Pkech and more than 100 of his followers had been shot dead. Four from the British side had also been killed.
Narrating the ordeal, Mzee Pulongor said their Pokot spiritual leader Pkech had told the community to revolt against Stevens.
“In his many secret teachings, Pkech told us bullets would change to water. He instructed us to drop our swords and grab the colonial administrator with bare hands and that’s when bullets started raining on us,” he said with eyes focussed on a huge white monument erected by the church in honour of the fallen community heroes.
Despite the bullets, his friends advanced and got hold of the colonial administrator and strangled him alongside four of his bodyguards.
Although the majority of those killed at Koloa battle ground were buried at the mass grave, Pkech body was sneaked away alongside those of colonial government civil servants.
“They told the community that Pkech’s body was interred at a cemetery in Nakuru but we are not sure of that. It’s true many years have passed on but we demand to be told where he was finally buried,” said another elder, Losikayang Pukogh.
Apart from promoting the late Musinde Muliro’s messages, with his specific anti-European messages, Pkech drew attention to himself and in April 1950 he and several associates were arrested, charged with belonging to an unlawful movement and sentenced to 30 months in jail.
Two years later, in early 1950, Pkech escaped from prison and returned to Baringo, where he resumed his preaching, promoting the worship of Wele, and prophesying that the Europeans would soon be driven out.
Others killed alondside Stevens included assistant Superintendent of Police George Taylor, Assistant Inspector of Police Robert Cameron, African policeman Kipkonge Kobirir.
With the deaths, the Dini ya Msambwa came to an end in the region. The local people were disarmed and forced to sell off livestock to pay compensation.
The locals paid 500 cows from each household and 200 cows from each chief for compensation for the four colonial officers killed. Survivors said there was also an additional fine of 600 cows from Loyamorok chief and 400 from his Tirioko counterpart.
The two chiefs were accused by the colonial government of allegedly collaborating with Pkech and failing to report about his activities.
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