Kenyans never cease to amaze me. Following the sudden demise of renowned Human Rights activist Ken Wafula, the fact that his wife is one MIRIAM NJOKI has stirred more curiosity and interest, especially on social media, than his death! Is this a case of your name betraying you? But once a man who ruffled so many feathers like Ken Wafula dies, speculations abound.
One can understand where this is coming from. In the recent past, we have witnessed cases where women were hauled before courts of law after being accused of either personally killing their spouses or conspiring to have them killed. I am not sure whether it’s by coincidence or by design, but most of the recently accused women come from the same community. But should we condemn a whole community based on acts of a few individual cases?
Tribal prejudices have become a cancer that’s consuming this country at a very frightening rate. Perhaps it’s time for us to ask this question: When did this fallacy of generalisation start eating into our very souls? It’s too obvious that our politicians love it when things remain this way since it makes it easy for them to use us as cheap bargaining chips when sharing power and government largesse at the national level.
The fact that he died after a short illness whereby he developed breathing problems raises eyebrows and elicits more questions than answers. Just like in most cases where people died under unclear circumstances, HBP and diabetes have been blamed for his sudden death.
In 2014, William Ruto’s lead lawyer at the ICC Mr Karim Khan sensationally claimed that Mr Wafula was involved in coaching prosecution witnesses, to testify against six Kenyans who were facing charges of crimes against humanity at the Hague. Among the accused were the then Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto
Mr Wafula has, on many occasions, declared in public that his life was in danger. Not long ago, when the ICC cases were still ongoing, the vocal Human Rights activist claimed in the media that some unknown people were after his life. This came after a key witness in the ICC cases, a Mr Meshack Yebei, mysteriously went missing and was found dead in Tsavo National Park several days later. The person behind the elimination of the key witnesses must have not only been very powerful but also very determined to tie all loose ends in order to leave no trace behind.
This became quite evident when an attempt was made on the life of Yebei’s widow; a hapless mother of three, all aged below seven years by then. It was an utterly horrendous attack. I know it because I was by then living in the same compound with the lady in Eldoret. She was just two weeks old in our compound, having moved from another neighbourhood on discovering that suspicious characters were constantly trailing her car.
It happened in the ungodly wee hours of the night, precisely a few minutes after 2.00am. Those goons attacked with military precision, after jumping over a 10 feet high concrete perimeter wall whose top was well covered with laser wire all around. We would later discover that they had cut out a two-meter space of laser wire from the section of the wall through which they jumped. This they did without the new guard at the gate noticing anything unusual. The man was doing his first night at that gate and looked quite puzzled like the rest of us after the incident.
In an operation that lasted for under 10 minutes, they had gained entry into the house of Mrs Yebei, which was the last in our line of two-bedroom ground apartments. Up to date, I have never understood how they managed to open the heavy metallic door and forced their way into the lady’s bedroom.
I might have been the last person to go to bed that fateful night because I had a deadline to beat. Hence I was working on my computer late into the night. Since my house was the last and nearest to their point of entry from the neighbouring compound, they might have waited for me to put my lights off as they had to pass right outside my house. I was in bed for barely five minutes before I heard a scuffle which was later followed by a guttural scream, the kind that comes from an animal that’s being strangled.
At first, I thought one of my neighbours was beating his wife at that ungodly hour. After a short hesitation, I came out of bed and peeped through the window. I realized that some of my neighbours were also peeping out of their windows. On establishing where the scream had come from, we all started streaming out of the houses. I will never forget the picture of that lady lying in a pool of blood outside her house with a gaping wound across her forehead.
Those despicable beasts must have thought that she was already dead when they fled. Maybe the plan was to carry her away with them but when she resisted and screamed, they mercilessly maimed her and left her for the dead, probably thinking that she wouldn’t make it through the night. Funny enough, nobody saw the shadowy figures stealthily slip in and out of the compound. All this time, the woman’s children were fast asleep in their room. The horror on their faces when they were finally pulled out of that room and saw the bloody face of their mother wrenched my heart.
That incident gave me a firsthand experience of the blatant impunity in this country. It left me seething with anger at whoever could have been behind the cold-blood murder attempt. I was also very mad at a system that can’t protect a vulnerable widow even after she had severally reported to the authorities that suspicious individuals were trailing her car.
I have never understood what could prompt fully grown men to stalk a woman (a widow in this case), just like predators silently stalk their prey, and attempt to cut her life short in the most horrific way! The lady later revealed that her attackers might have been about four to six men.
But perhaps what annoyed me to the core and left me shaking with anger is the fact that those three innocent kids could have become orphans just like that! They were the same age as my children with whom they had already struck a rapport as friends as they used to play together in the compound.
How heartless can human beings get? The fact that the attackers never took anything from the lady, other than her phone, made it crystal clear that they were only after her life. Their brief was to finish her off probably because of some sensitive information in her possession. She later claimed that they asked her to show them where her phone and documents were.
Though the media came calling the following day, most of the tenants never wanted to talk to the press after realizing that it was the late Yebei’s wife who was attacked. People in the neighbourhood talked in hushed tones about a powerful figure in government as the person behind the brazen attempt on the widow’s life. Only the compound caretaker granted the media a short interview. The case was given a fleeting mention in that day’s 7.00pm and 9.00pm news, after which nobody followed it up.
Though Mrs Yebei was rushed to a hospital where she thankfully recovered after a couple of weeks, I guess she must be living as a fugitive in her own country up to date. What puzzled me most is when I heard, from our caretaker, that the landlord had ordered for the lady to vacate her house as soon as she left the hospital because she was bringing bad luck (Nuksi) to his property! And indeed she moved out immediately after she left the hospital.To where? I don’t know.
In that neighbourhood, the rumour mills were busy with various spins about the incident. Some of the locals insinuated that the lady had connived with her husband’s killers after which she refused to keep her end of the bargain in sharing the spoils. So those people were now after her life. Some pointed fingers at a very powerful Kenyan politician who happens to come from the same county, and you could hear them say that “Amekula watu wengi kapisaa!” loosely translated to, he has killed so many people.
What amazed me is the way the police treated that case. They came and casually picked the padlock to the lady’s house (which was intact), the laser wire that the goons cut from the perimeter wall and a jacket that they left behind probably in their hurry to leave or as a decoy to mislead the police. One of the policemen was even overheard saying that, “huyu mama ni mjinga. Hakufunga mlango!” At that point, I realized that no meaningful investigations were going to take place.
However, all signs pointed to a systematic elimination of all prosecution witnesses in the Kenyan ICC cases. Remember the cases were never completely terminated, meaning they could be revived any time in future. Therefore, Ken Wafula had every reason to fear for his life since he had been accused of having coached key prosecution witnesses in the Uhuruto cases before the ICC.
Kenyans have every right to speculate too and ask all the tough questions when a Human Rights activist dies. These people are an endangered species, especially in any shit-hole country, since they oftentimes risk limb and life to speak for the voiceless. The relationship between Civil Society and the powers that be is always frosty. We have heard powerful individuals in government openly refer to Civil Society as “Evil Society 😈“
However, I have sadly noticed that in most cases, women suffer double tragedy every time their husbands die under mysterious circumstances. On one hand, they’ll be grieving and wondering how they will single-handedly raise their children, while on the other hand, they have to ward off nasty allegations that they had a hand in their husbands’ deaths.
So, if a few ladies from a certain community connived to have their husbands sent to their maker prematurely, does it mean that all ladies from that community are guilty of this offence? Our tribal prejudices are our biggest undoing since we’ve refused to learn how to treat fellow citizens as individual humans. It’s easier to lump them together as a community for purely political reasons! who bewitched us?
It’s sad that we are so hopelessly stuck in our tribal cocoons, courtesy of our shitty politics, that we’ve become too judgemental along tribal lines. I am no judge, but those who have been too quick to cast aspersions on Njoki, whom they hardly know, are informed by the fact that she originates from the mountain region. Never mind that the lady is reportedly eight months pregnant and most likely devastated by her husband’s death!
Therefore, Kenyans on social media should kindly leave Njoki out of their speculations on the cause her husband’s death for the time being. If your only evidence against her is her name, you better shut up. We must agree that not all Njokis are conspirators and killers. Or are they?
Gilbert Kenya is a graduate of Political Science and Communications (Double Major) from The University of Nairobi. He is a passionate website content developer, SEO writer, copywriter, and copy editor.
An avid reader and prolific writer, on various topical issues, Gilbert is convinced that writing is his raison d'etre. We are all here for a reason, aren't we?
The scribe also considers himself a global citizen, who strongly believes in human justice and dignity for all.
A certified aficionado of both local and global politics, alongside diverse literary genres, this writer believes that there is always enough to go around for all of us - but only if we become deliberate about it.
As the good old book of wisdom - the Bible - quips; what will it profit you to gain the entire world, but lose your soul in the process?
All the things we do, good or bad, have a strange way of going around and finding their way back to us.
Kenya's favourite maxim is: "LIVE AND LET LIVE." While at it, LAUGH and LOVE, even more, you are not here forever!
When not immersed in writing, Gilbert enjoys spending time in the company of his lovely wife, Betty, and their two beautiful children, Ray and Ivy, in the great "City in the Sun" - Nairobi, Kenya.
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