Bloodshed in Kenya 'We Will Kill Everyone!'
Five weeks after manipulated presidential elections, Kenya is on the brink of civil war. Tribal violence is raging -- without mercy, sense or discretion -- throughout the land. As negotiations stall, merciless tribal violence is raging, leaving the country littered with bodies.
A man belonging to the Luo tribe carries a panga in front of a burning tire barricade during ethnic clashes in the Western Kenyan town of Kisumu.
The situation doesn't look any better along the road to Eldoret, which lies 130 kilometers (81 miles) away. For the few still willing to risk the journey to the mountain town, the route has become a perilous obstacle course. Piles
Two drivers working for the Mololine bus company aren't as lucky. As they drive through a wooded area about 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside of Nakuru, they are suddenly attacked by 20 to 30 young fighters from the Kalenjin ethnic group, who assail the buses with stones and arrows. They only barely manage to escape -- and with great effort, driving at full speed over stone barriers and past burning tires.
An Escalating Vortex of Violence
One by one, Kenya's cities are being drawn into an escalating vortex of violence. The death toll has already shot well above 1,000. In Nairobi, unknown assailants murdered Mugabe Were, a member of parliament from defeated presidential candidate Odinga's opposition party. Three-hundred-thousand people are currently fleeing the violence throughout Kenya. The economic damages have been beyond calculation for a long time now. According to the umbrella organization of Kenyan trade unions, half a million people have lost their jobs. Meanwhile, tourists are staying away from the country's main tourist centers on the coast and in the national parks.
Awakening Older Rivalries
A man from the Kalenjin tribe in Cheptiret speaks on his cell phone while brandishing a bow and arrows.
The Kikuyus, who make up more than 20 percent of the population, were already the country's most prosperous ethnic group at the time. Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first president, took steps to ensure their economic well-being. Since then, the Kikuyus have dominated Kenyan politics and business. They began settling in the Rift Valley in the 1960s. These settlement activities have infuriated the Kalenjin, who feel that they are being cheated out of their land for a second time.
News of the rigged election had hardly become known before the hunt for Kikuyus began in the region surrounding Eldoret. About 30 women and children were burned alive after having taken refuge in a church. The massacre prompted many Kikuyus to swear revenge, and armed Kikuyu militias soon appeared in the Rift Valley. It was the beginning of a deadly conflict that has since spread throughout Kenya. Large parts of the country have already spun out of control. Gangs have set up roadblocks everywhere, dragging members of rival ethnic groups from their cars and killing them.
In Timboroa, a town north of Nakuru, the ruins of torched houses are still smoldering. Sarah Waithera Wamuli feels her way gingerly through red-hot embers. This is where her house stood just yesterday. A mob of 200 people surrounded the house in the middle of the night, shouting: "Get out! We're going to kill you now!" Wamuli grabbed her six children and ran outside. The building went up in flames a short time later. Four neighbors died in the attack.
Many Tries at Peace, Many Failures
All current efforts to resolve the conflicts have so far been unsuccessful. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the first to leave Kenya empty-handed. He was followed by President John Kufuor of Ghana, who is also the current chairman of the African Union, and even former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's efforts to mediate have been relatively unsuccessful.
Annan managed to bring together Kibaki and his challenger Odinga for a meeting. But the two rivals had barely shaken hands before Kibaki, seemingly unimpressed by the event, declared himself the country's "properly elected president." A fresh round of negotiations began on Tuesday, and Annan warned it would be much tougher.
It's another 63 kilometers (39 miles) to Eldoret. Trucks are backed up for miles before the town of Burnt Forest. "They beat three drivers to death," says a trucker. Nearby, the bodies of two dead villagers lie on the ground. They were not killed by militias but by the police, when a special unit stormed into town earlier in the day. The two dead men, John Ekai and his son Daniel, failed to get away quickly enough.
Refugees prepare to abandon the Rift Valley.
No one in the raging mob seems to care that the refugees living in makeshift tents a few hundred meters down the road are mostly women and children. "It doesn't make any difference to us," Yego says. "We don't distinguish between civilians, police officers or militias anymore. Every Kikuyu is our enemy."
No Place to Run, No Place to Hide
Twenty-five kilometers (16 miles) away from Eldoret, in the town of Cheptiret, a truck is burning in the road. The body of the driver lies on the roadside about 100 meters from his truck. He had attempted to flee. The large stones used to beat him to death lie on the ground near his body.
A group of Kalenjin is gathered around the corpse, chanting a fighting song. "We are only protecting ourselves," says Reverend Daniel Rugut. "We have heard that Kikuyu gangs are on their way here to kill us."
Suddenly his words are interrupted as two army attack helicopters approach at a low altitude. As their machine guns open fire and bullets whip across the road, the pastor barely makes it to safety. He hides beneath a truck and prays.
Slain opposition leader David Too.
A few hundred Kikuyu refugees from the surrounding area have been camped out near the police station in the city's downtown for weeks. The police busy themselves with setting up additional machine-gun posts and roadblocks in anticipation of reprisals from the angry mob.
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan