Kenyans will be quick to condemn South Africans for the xenophobic attacks that are happening at the country fondly referred to as the rainbow nation at the moment. But these attacks are not any different from what happened during the 2007/2008 post election violence. They speak of the death of the African love that our Pan-African fore fathers once had for the continent.
This is part one of the cruel deaths that took place during the Post Election Violence (PEV) which resonates with the South African xenophobic attacks. It is recorded in the report of the Commission for the Investigation of the Post Election Violence (CIPEV) otherwise known as the Waki Commission.
It’s the death of one Eric Ouma whose penis was chopped and placed in his mouth as he was drying. I blog on why his death touches me and why it’s important to remember the PEV crimes as we condemn xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
I do not know who Eric Ouma was or who his people are. I did not have any information about him or his whereabouts during his days on earth. But how he was killed during the post election violence (PEV) is an issue I may consider to write a thesis about in the coming days, God willing.
The first time I heard about Ouma was when I read about his death in Naivasha in the report that was compiled by the Waki Commission. Note that in formal terms the commission is known as the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence (CIPEV).
So in the CIPEV report the account about Ouma’s death is recorded in pages 120-121. It was told to the commission by his sister Judith on 25th July, 2008.
Judith told the commission that Ouma was killed on January 28th, 2008. That morning some people had informed him that Judith and her husband had been killed. Apparently Judith had a shop and on hearing that they had been killed, her brother rushed to the shop to check on them. The three used to live at Karagita, in the outskirts of Naivasha.
Judith told the commission that her brother had been mistaken for her husband as he was peeping to see if indeed they had been killed. If only he had known in advance that they had already fled.
“My brother was clobbered to death before he was mutilated,” she said.
“The people who did that to him were using spiked clubs. They had fixed nails on the club and as they hit his face the nails would pluck flesh from his body,” so her account goes.
But he did not die on the spot. He died slowly. Out of the pain caused by ethnic animosity.
“I found blood was still pouring out of his body and he was kicking as he was dying,”
recounted Judith of her brother’s image when she arrived at his death scene.
She said the security officers who were there refused to assist her take the body to the mortuary.
“The police told me to get away from them, that I should not disturb them, that if I insisted I would end up like my brother and that it was not their work. I didn’t have anything to do.”
She was only able to get assistance 48 hours later. By then Ouma’s body was decomposing and dogs were feasting on him.
“He was smelling badly. His body had insects that had started to eat him due to rotting.”
Something else that tells you that Ouma died a painful death is the account by Judith that he had his manhood mutilated.
“I found that his penis had been cut and placed in his mouth; his testis were chopped off and placed in his hand.”
Personally, this part always touches me. So Ouma’s killers made a cigar out of his penis and made him smoke it?
As Judith concluded her account she told of how Ouma’s death kept on haunting his first born son, Ochieng aged 5, and who was present when his father was being murdered.
“He has since gone mad. He keeps on saying, “baba wanakata kichwa yako, wana kata kitu chako…Dad they are chopping off your head, they are chopping off your thing (penis).”
Ouma may be dead, but the effects of the PEV will be with us for quite some time as we heal the wounds of the likes of Ochieng, his son, who witnessed the violence.
His death also is the irony of the relative haven of peace that Kenya was known to be prior to the 2007 PEV. This is because Ouma was residing in an estate called “makao ya amani.” Translated that will be “the peace estate” or still “the haven.”
We may need to paraphrase the question of how he was snatched from that ‘haven’ to the question of whether indeed we have managed to reconstruct it (the haven) to a place where he would feel safe should he come back to life, today.