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Mysterious killings in River Yala call for deeper probe, reflection

Ndanu falls in River Yala Gem, Siaya County where dead bodies are normally dumped in Sucks. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

My home county has been in the news over the last several weeks for bad reasons. The discovery of bodies in River Yala has put Siaya County in the limelight, but with nothing to be proud of.

The mystery of these apparent murders has left many speculating, especially because some bodies are of people from hundreds of kilometres away. One wonders why anybody would carry a living or dead body from so many kilometres away to kill or dump them at this specific river.

Whereas many fingers have been pointed at the police – and perhaps there are many reasons why such fingers might be rightly directed – the burning question remains as to why the police would choose River Yala. Why would public officers pick somebody from Voi and then travel with him or his body some almost 600 kilometres to River Yala? Why not take him to the ocean – only a few kilometres away, or to Tana River which is equally close?

These and many such questions persist as the outcome of investigations are eagerly awaited by Kenyans, and especially by the distraught families whose loved ones have been missing for a while. But as often happens in such circumstances, the inquisitive human mind has been formulating all kinds of permutations to help unravel the mystery around these deaths.

Unfortunately, most if not all remain mere conjectures – a figment of our fertile imaginations. It is to this growing maze of theories that my spiritual mind has recently thrown me.

In the not too distant past, we have received reports of very similar bizarre killings. Late last year, one Masten Wanjala, a 20-year-old man, confessed to killing more than ten boys over a five-year period. Wanjala is reported to have killed his first victim when he was just 16, a similar age to some of his victims. He confessed to drugging them and drinking their blood.

In a strange twist of fate, Wanjala met his own death through mob justice after escaping from police custody in unknown circumstances. But Wanjala is not the only self-confessed serial killer that has come to public limelight. Back in 2010, one Phillip Onyancha hit the headlines after confessing to murdering at least 17 women.

Onyancha claimed he had been acting on the instructions of a mysterious cult leader who, for some undisclosed reasons, had allegedly directed him to drink the blood of a hundred people. He had done 17 and was on track to fulfil his mission.

Though there have been several other serial killers, Onyancha confession introduced a spiritual angle to this bizarre practice – acting at the behest of a cult leader.

Another murderer who made similar claims was Geoffrey Matheri who like Onyancha confessed to sucking the blood of the women he killed. In his case he also ate their flesh as they watched. Strangely though, he claimed he would carry some of the blood to a bishop.

The implication is that some of the killings being witnessed in our country are cultic in nature. People caught up in cultic beliefs and practices could be misguiding deranged and desperate young men into these bizarre practices. Studies show that such practices are especially associated with the dark world of the occult.

Such beliefs transcend borders and are to be found in almost every nation of the world. Thus, ritual killings are an unfortunate practice that not only take the lives of innocent victims, but in many cases also aims at draining their blood or harvesting their body parts. Some pundits have considered ritual murder as a pandemic because of its perennial effects on the welfare of most communities.

Interestingly, the people who get easily lured into such practices lie at the opposite ends of the social continuum – the very poor and the very rich. The one does so to in an attempt to escape the reality of poverty, the other to fill the void that riches cannot seal.

No wonder the richest and wisest man that ever lived – King Solomon – declared life without God a hopeless vanity. It can drive one into reckless abandon. Thus, though there are yet no pointers to such rituals at the River Yala massacre, it might be an angle worth exploring.