Kenya IDPs: David Chege-Waweru: “I couldn’t leave my room for five days”

Posted on 25 January 2008. Filed under: Governance, Insecurity, Refugees/ IDPs |

Photo: IRIN
Post-election violence in Kenya has seen 250,000 people displaced and more than 600 killed

NAIROBI, 24 January 2008 (IRIN) – David Chege-Waweru, 35, was working as a field officer for the agro-forestry NGO Wang Ndonya Eternity Organisation in Migori, Nyanza Province, when he was forced to leave by post-election violence.

“Trouble started on 30 December. We were all listening to the radio [election results] when all of a sudden everybody started complaining, saying, ‘That’s not fair, it’s been rigged’. About 50 youths and 10 elders said they were going to attack Kikuyus.

“I thought the church would be the safest place to go. I thought I could talk to the pastor, a friend from Uganda, and ask if there was any chance of helping anyone not from that area, but he was more concerned about his own family’s safety.

“On my way back to my room from the church [in Migori] I came across a crowd and they forced me to put rocks in the road, then I had no choice because they were like – they know me – everybody was like, ‘Come let’s do this’.

“The crowd was getting bigger and bigger, demanding their ODM [Orange Democratic Movement] president, so I slowly emerged from the crowd to a nearby shamba [smallholding], then I met one of my neighbours, an old man, who was holding a big rock and a metal bar. He knew me by the name Chege. He said: ‘Mr Chege, get out of here, we’re heading for the Kikuyus’. I got scared and he tried to explain: ‘Look what Kibaki has done’. He never attacked me but that was a good enough threat.

“I couldn’t leave my room for five days, I couldn’t go out. My girlfriend brought me food and she made sure nobody saw her. She would throw in the plate [of food] and leave.

“The first two days my Luo friends kept knocking on the door, wanting to see me, but I kept quiet. On the third day I persuaded my girlfriend to talk to me. She agreed to come in the middle of the night. She told me what had been happening; they’d broken into all the shops and looted everything. She even told me her brother had looted a fridge full of Coca-Cola.

“I sent her to phone my brother in Nairobi to get him to send money for the bus fare, but there were no buses from Migori to Kisii and the banks were closed. Eventually my brother managed to send some money to a nearby Luhya shopkeeper via Mpesa [mobile phone money transfer service].

“With the money I got a decent meal and I decided to head for the border [with Tanzania] on foot [18km away]. The only way to move was very early in the morning or at night; there were so many checkpoints. All the Kikuyu people had been evacuated from Migori town to no-man’s land between Isbaniya and Sirare.

“Halfway there I met a friend with a motorbike. He agreed to take me to Kisii for 500 bob [Kenya shillings – about US$7] on condition that we leave my room at 4am. In Kisii I managed to get a bus to Nairobi. We waited in Keroka for three hours for a police escort which never came. Passengers complained so the driver agreed to leave without the escort. When we got to Narok, we heard that two buses behind us had been stoned, attacked.

“Eventually we made it to Nairobi, but now my worry is: Will I ever be able to go back there and work? I left all my documents, certificates, clothes and other belongings there.”

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One Response to “Kenya IDPs: David Chege-Waweru: “I couldn’t leave my room for five days””

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[…] Kiwiblog wrote an interesting post today on Kenya IDPs: David Chege-Waweru: âI couldnât leave my room for…Here’s a quick excerptPhoto: IRIN Post-election violence in Kenya has seen 250,000 people displaced and more than 600 killed NAIROBI, 24 January 2008 (IRIN) – David Chege- […]

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