Sense of fear and loss still palpable in desolate village

A police and KPR officers inspecting burnt houses at Mukutani trading center after suspected Pokot bandits attacked the village killing 9 people,injuring three and burning several houses on March 2017.Photo:Kipsang Joseph/Standard

Chills run down our spines as we approach Mukutani centre in Baringo County. The silence is loud. Trees stand tall as Mathenge shrubs invade the lonely roads that lead to the deserted village which once hosted more than 700 families.

Schools have become home for security officers who were deployed to ensure sanity in the volatile area that claimed more than 15 lives in the last one year.

The shopping centre is isolated with only a few people going about their business. Unsure of their security, they are suspicious of any unfamiliar faces that approach. With only a few families in the once hostile area, life has never been the same.

“Tension is still high among the few people that still live here. Only few families were left behind after the clashes last year,” said John Lotudo, a resident.

The 56-year-old village elder says social services have been hard to come by after most service providers fled the area. At Mukutani dispensary, maternity wards have become home to rats and cockroaches that feed on the record books.

“There are no doctors or nurses to provide services for people and mothers are forced to give birth in the bushes,” said the elder.

At a nearby church compound, a mass grave stands tall. It is the final resting point for the 15 people killed in the clashes.

Victims from the Njemps community were buried in a mass grave before their family members abandoned their homes to safer areas. Approximately 500 families abandoned their homes in the area and settled in Eldume IDP camp in Marigat after a series of banditry attacks.