I have lived within the Nandi community for many years. One day some Nandi members in Potopoto claimed the pieces of land and the plots were theirs and all Luos who lived within the area should vacate. We would wake up in the morning and get anonymous letters threatening us to leave or else we would face the consequences. We, therefore, reported the matter to the District Commissioner, he assured us and said we shouldn’t be worried as he would look into it.
One week later a meeting was held and both parties from Luo and Nandi community came and we discussed the issues oblivious that something deeper was being planned despite the meetings we held. By this time I was a representative at the Youth Bunge (Parliament) representing an area called Marama. The mentality at Marama was that the area was mostly occupied by Luhya and Luo communities, at the same time one of the cartel members claimed he owned the entire Marama area. I being a member at the Youth Bunge (Parliament) was against the issue of deforestation, so I stopped those I came across that were cutting down trees. I told them "The trees you are cutting down will have a negative impact on the community as we will no longer be able to get enough rains and the soil would not hold together without the trees, therefore, we could be at risk of landslides and earthquakes".
Little did I know that whatever warning I gave them would come to pass and in less than a week, there was a heavy storm that led to ten houses getting demolished and swept off. This left most mothers and children homeless with nowhere to sleep or rest. I, therefore, decided to become a good samaritan and offer a helping hand to some of the mothers to seek refuge at my house as others sought refuge from friends and relatives within the area. The catastrophic message reached the area chief and he came with a group of policemen to stop those who were still cutting down trees. The moment I saw the chief approaching I rushed to say hi to him but that did not go well as those who saw us thought I was snitching on those who were cutting trees and that I had rung the chief asking him to come over and arrest those who were involved.
Just like that, young men started gathering and barricaded the road with huge rocks so that the trees that the chief had taken away would not pass the barricade using a lorry. With rumours quickly spreading that I had called the police on the villagers cutting down the trees, the local Nnandi community started chanting, "These Luos must vacate!!" as they targeted me and other Luo neighbours to move away from our homes. At that particular moment, one of the young men started hauling abuses towards me and even as I walked away he persisted as he followed me. The issue got out of hand and within no time the chief's compound was full with youthful men chanting that I have to be evacuated, even those I knew as my friends were part of the gathering that was chanting about my evacuation at the chief's compound.
By that time I had a small baby who was outside the house and the villagers started throwing stones at my house breaking all the window glasses. Luckily for me, a friend was outside the house who rushed and grabbed my daughter due to her motherly instincts. On seeing what was happening, the other Luos rushed and locked themselves in the house so did I. By that time I could hear some familiar voices I knew saying "let's break the back door, that is where she keeps her things". Although my house was well equipped with steel doors, I could clearly feel that my death was just seconds away. Luckily for us, calls had been made to the Police OCS office and within no time the OCS had arrived with his troop in three land rovers.
I had to be escorted outside my house with the company of police so that no harm could come to me. We were therefore taken to the police station and my house was locked by the cartel who claimed that he owned the house. I, therefore, moved to Kopere with my child and the only thing I managed to carry with me were our clothes. I lived in Kopere for two months without setting foot in Potopoto. This gave me a hard time as all my businesses and work were entirely in Potopoto and its environs. I am glad that the whole issue came to an end, and eventually, I could even interact with people from Potopoto makes me glad once more. I am also happy that APT has helped me overcome my trauma through the numerous workshops I have attended and my heart is longer burdened by the events that took place. I have chosen peace, peace with those who wronged me and peace with myself to let all that go. My gratitude goes to Amani People's Theatre.
-Community Member and Animator, APT.