By Wahome Thuku
ON 2ND January 2008 at 10am (exactly 11 years ago to the hour) 35 people were incinerated in a Church during one of the most heinous episodes of the PEV. Today we remember them among other victims of the 2007/08 PEV. We pray that never shall we forget them and never shall we go through what they went through.
AS recounted by Salim Abdalla Mohammed and published in the Daily Nation on September 18, 2013 ( yes five years later).
“I am a truck mechanic based in Mombasa. I get contracts from various truck owners.
“On January 1, 2008, I received a call from one Mombasa truck owner that his lorry had developed mechanical problems in Eldoret and wanted me to go there to repair it.
“Transport was not available because buses had been overbooked by travellers fearing for the worst due to the delayed presidential results. The truck owner bought an air ticket for me.
“When I arrived at Eldoret town, I could not reach the truck due to violence that had spread everywhere, so I slept in the township until the following day.
“At about 9 the following morning, I had reached the truck. I had hardly lifted its cabin when a group of eight rowdy people surrounded us.
“They asked what the lorry was doing there and when I told them it had developed a problem, they asked me where the driver was. He was taking tea from a nearby kibanda.
“When he noticed the group, he came to the lorry and the group asked for our identity cards, starting with me.
When they saw I was Luhya, they said, ‘This one is ODM and voted for us’. But trouble began when the driver, Mr Njuguna Karanja, produced his identity document.
“The eight armed people began yelling, attracting others. The driver was immediately set upon with pangas and swords.
“They left and after about five minutes a bigger group came and asked for 40 litres of diesel. They siphoned all of it.
“They dragged us to the Kiambaa church. There was a large group outside but several people rushed inside when they noticed more armed people approaching.
“Before long, they poured the diesel on bicycles parked outside.
“A man who seemed to be the leader of the group then arrived and set a piece of cloth on fire and threw it towards the bicycles and the church.
“The fire was slow to spread but eventually it engulfed the church and the voices inside grew fainter and fainter until they died down.”