When Elections costs life!

AbigayleMutua
Posted June 10, 2017 from Kenya

Sorry madam! That is the wrong name for this place! To live here, you name must be the right name! This is what I vividly remember the man holding a machete saying to me! I was down on the ground, holding my friend Recca on my laps, watching her helplessly as she was bleeding to death! No one could help me, help her, help us because she had the wrong name! Who had the right to decide whether a name was right or wrong!? Who had the right to decide where a certain name could belong or not belong? I painstakingly held her for 2 whole hours appealing to passersby to help me take my friend to the hospital but none would even look at her! In fact they turned on me for being a friend to a person of her name! I watched her helplessly as life left her body, and as she breathed her last. I have never known a more intense feeling of anguish like that one; watching my best friend die in my arms BECAUSE OF A NAME!!

Even as I share this story, the pain of my friend’s death is as raw as if it happened yesterday. I have battled with this pain for years, not sharing it with anyone because I felt I was to blame for her death. I have had to undergo counselling just to let it go. And I hope that by sharing this story, my heart will finally find healing and that I can finally learn to let it go.

Recca and I became friends from the time I was 14 years old. We met at a church event and unlike the norm of how people become friends, ours was dislike at first sight. Our dislike was born from the fact that we were both very competitive and looking at her, she had what I always wanted to have! She had an influential family, she could sing and she could afford to travel anywhere in the country and in the world, her family could afford it. Me on the other hand, I could sing, but I had no one to support me to grow my talents! I could write poetry and short stories, but the best these writing could take me was, to fill up my books! So Recca and I had natural rivalry. For her case, she disliked me because I was competition for her in Church. Little did we both know that one day we would end up being the best of friends!

Then two years down the line, we were unfortunate enough to meet in the same high school! It’s funny how we even became friends, because what made us to be friends was some toilet graffiti! Recca was a notorious toilet graffito (if there is such a word) and I being the school prefect I was doing rounds one morning before classes when I caught her red-handed doing some graffiti on the toilet walls! I would have reported her too if I had not decided to read the graffiti, it was one of the funniest things that I had seen that morning. So when I read it, I just burst out laughing and she laughed and that marked the beginning of our friendship. I remember the graffiti said: “Look how ugly you look now in that position, yet when you were eating you were Smiling! “and I think because I didn’t report her to the school authorities, we automatically became friends. And I always think of our friendship as one that was ‘Borne in the toilet’

FAST forward to 6 years later, Recca and I remained great friends even after graduating high school. We were both in different universities but we were great friends. I opened up my family to her and her family became my family. Never in all the years since our childhood rivalry did it ever occur to me that she was not the right name for me! Until 2007, When the Election decided whose name was right and whose was wrong! Amazingly though, Recca was not even a Kenyan, but because the name wasn’t familiar to the people who butchered her to death as I watched, she had to die!

I wish it was possible for me to celebrate every time my country gets to an election period, but it is not. Because since our last elections in 2007, over a decade ago, elections to me have spelled doom and disaster. This is because the political climate over the country changes drastically and it is the time where all of a sudden, I am reminded of my tribe and sadly too reminded of my loss.

The time was December 2007, soon after our general elections. All was peaceful and tranquil and it being in December, my friends and I decided it would be a great idea to travel out of Nairobi for the Christmas holidays. Our destination of Choice was Nakuru! A place famous for being a tourist attraction. We had just finished voting and as we were waiting for the tallying of the votes, we decide we may as well enjoy the scenery of our peaceful country! So we set off the very next morning after voting to our preferred holiday destination. The journey was a safe but for some reason, we could sense an uneasy tension in the air. Like something bad was about to happen, but we can really tell what. I remember saying a little prayer with my Friend, her name; Recca. We prayed for our safe journey and fro and we prayed for God’s protection to be upon us. And as we set off, we were care free planning to enjoy nakuru for some few days then be back in Nairobi for the cross over into the next year.

Two days into our holiday, I receive a call from my father. He sounded frantic. He told us to get into the next bus out of nakuru and back in Nairobi! The bad news was that, the wrong person had been declared president and the entire nation had woken up in total chaos! The only place we would be safe is in Nairobi! None of us had been following what was going on in the news, so we were not aware that our country had turned messy suddenly! So we hurriedly packed and checked out of the lodge where we were staying! We were lucky enough to get a bus that was about to leave for Nairobi and we quickly boarded! We had not even drove 300 meters when the car met with a barricade. All of a sudden we were ambushed, we saw a lorry pull in front of our bus and some men wielding machetes ordering every one out of the bus. We were so Scared when we saw the first man down show his Identification card and the man from the bus raining machete blows on him! I began to pray! So when it was our turn out, I showed my ID and I was pushed to one Side. My friend came after me, she was pushed on the opposite side! When they were done, I saw a group of men holding machetes cut people right before my eyes! Including my friend! I must have lost my senses then, because all I remember was the animal scream that escaped my mouth then I passed out!

When I came to, there was blood everywhere, I had no strength in me. I didn’t know if I was alive or dead. I didn’t know if this was real or a really bad nightmare. It took all my energy for me to crawl towards Recca. She was able to talk, but very faintly. She called out for me to help her. So I remember vaguely crawling to her and trying to lift her up, she was badly cut! All I could manage to do was sit down and place her head on my lap! In my mind I was screaming to get up from this dream! But I wasn’t waking up. I had lost my phone; I think someone had stolen it when I passed out. All I could manage to say through the wailing and the tears was “Please help me!” and the people who were round, just walked past us in Fear. I can’t remember how long we were on the road, Coz the next thing I remember is finding myself in Nairobi! I don’t know how I got there. I don’t even know how my parents got to me. But all that was real to me was that I HAD SEEN RECCA GET KILLED FOR HAVING THE WRONG NAME! what would I tell her parents? What would I tell her Family? She had a name, that was right for them! She had dreams that were now dead too! It is a pain so deep that I don’t think I can express!

I fast forward to 10 years later, and as I look at the politicians’ campaign, I hear them only spread nothing but hate! I hear them organizing how this tribe shall not rule! How it is time for another tribe to take over! And I look as people allow the politicians to divide them along tribal lines and my spirit gets crushed within me. Because this tribal politics cost me my friend! For how long will we allow the politicians to divide us! For how long will it be my tribe versus your tribe! For how long will we vote for people because THEY HAVE THE RIGHT NAME!? I WRITE today to appeal to the nation, and to other nations as well, Tribal politics is costly! We must rise up in Africa and Say no to being Divided because of our names, our tribes!

I have been posting campaigns on social media urging the nation to shun tribal politics, maybe someone somewhere will not have to be killed, or bullied because HE OR SHE HAS GOT THE WRONG NAME! I say just Maybe; it is possible for us to vote this year without considering the tribe. Is it too much to wish for?

Sorry madam! That is the wrong name for this place! To live here, you name must be the right name! This is what I vividly remember the man holding a machete saying to me! I was down on the ground, holding my friend Recca on my laps, watching her helplessly as she was bleeding to death! No one could help me, help her, help us because she had the wrong name! Who had the right to decide whether a name was right or wrong!? Who had the right to decide where a certain name could belong or not belong? I painstakingly held her for 2 whole hours appealing to passersby to help me take my friend to the hospital but none would even look at her! In fact they turned on me for being a friend to a person of her name! I watched her helplessly as life left her body, and as she breathed her last. I have never known a more intense feeling of anguish like that one; watching my best friend die in my arms BECAUSE OF A NAME!!

Even as I share this story, the pain of my friend’s death is as raw as if it happened yesterday. I have battled with this pain for years, not sharing it with anyone because I felt I was to blame for her death. I have had to undergo counselling just to let it go. And I hope that by sharing this story, my heart will finally find healing and that I can finally learn to let it go.

Recca and I became friends from the time I was 14 years old. We met at a church event and unlike the norm of how people become friends, ours was dislike at first sight. Our dislike was born from the fact that we were both very competitive and looking at her, she had what I always wanted to have! She had an influential family, she could sing and she could afford to travel anywhere in the country and in the world, her family could afford it. Me on the other hand, I could sing, but I had no one to support me to grow my talents! I could write poetry and short stories, but the best these writing could take me was, to fill up my books! So Recca and I had natural rivalry. For her case, she disliked me because I was competition for her in Church. Little did we both know that one day we would end up being the best of friends!

Then two years down the line, we were unfortunate enough to meet in the same high school! It’s funny how we even became friends, because what made us to be friends was some toilet graffiti! Recca was a notorious toilet graffito (if there is such a word) and I being the school prefect I was doing rounds one morning before classes when I caught her red-handed doing some graffiti on the toilet walls! I would have reported her too if I had not decided to read the graffiti, it was one of the funniest things that I had seen that morning. So when I read it, I just burst out laughing and she laughed and that marked the beginning of our friendship. I remember the graffiti said: “Look how ugly you look now in that position, yet when you were eating you were Smiling! “and I think because I didn’t report her to the school authorities, we automatically became friends. And I always think of our friendship as one that was ‘Borne in the toilet’

FAST forward to 6 years later, Recca and I remained great friends even after graduating high school. We were both in different universities but we were great friends. I opened up my family to her and her family became my family. Never in all the years since our childhood rivalry did it ever occur to me that she was not the right name for me! Until 2007, When the Election decided whose name was right and whose was wrong! Amazingly though, Recca was not even a Kenyan, but because the name wasn’t familiar to the people who butchered her to death as I watched, she had to die!

I wish it was possible for me to celebrate every time my country gets to an election period, but it is not. Because since our last elections in 2007, over a decade ago, elections to me have spelled doom and disaster. This is because the political climate over the country changes drastically and it is the time where all of a sudden, I am reminded of my tribe and sadly too reminded of my loss.

The time was December 2007, soon after our general elections. All was peaceful and tranquil and it being in December, my friends and I decided it would be a great idea to travel out of Nairobi for the Christmas holidays. Our destination of Choice was Nakuru! A place famous for being a tourist attraction. We had just finished voting and as we were waiting for the tallying of the votes, we decide we may as well enjoy the scenery of our peaceful country! So we set off the very next morning after voting to our preferred holiday destination. The journey was a safe but for some reason, we could sense an uneasy tension in the air. Like something bad was about to happen, but we can really tell what. I remember saying a little prayer with my Friend, her name; Recca. We prayed for our safe journey and fro and we prayed for God’s protection to be upon us. And as we set off, we were care free planning to enjoy nakuru for some few days then be back in Nairobi for the cross over into the next year.

Two days into our holiday, I receive a call from my father. He sounded frantic. He told us to get into the next bus out of nakuru and back in Nairobi! The bad news was that, the wrong person had been declared president and the entire nation had woken up in total chaos! The only place we would be safe is in Nairobi! None of us had been following what was going on in the news, so we were not aware that our country had turned messy suddenly! So we hurriedly packed and checked out of the lodge where we were staying! We were lucky enough to get a bus that was about to leave for Nairobi and we quickly boarded! We had not even drove 300 meters when the car met with a barricade. All of a sudden we were ambushed, we saw a lorry pull in front of our bus and some men wielding machetes ordering every one out of the bus. We were so Scared when we saw the first man down show his Identification card and the man from the bus raining machete blows on him! I began to pray! So when it was our turn out, I showed my ID and I was pushed to one Side. My friend came after me, she was pushed on the opposite side! When they were done, I saw a group of men holding machetes cut people right before my eyes! Including my friend! I must have lost my senses then, because all I remember was the animal scream that escaped my mouth then I passed out!

When I came to, there was blood everywhere, I had no strength in me. I didn’t know if I was alive or dead. I didn’t know if this was real or a really bad nightmare. It took all my energy for me to crawl towards Recca. She was able to talk, but very faintly. She called out for me to help her. So I remember vaguely crawling to her and trying to lift her up, she was badly cut! All I could manage to do was sit down and place her head on my lap! In my mind I was screaming to get up from this dream! But I wasn’t waking up. I had lost my phone; I think someone had stolen it when I passed out. All I could manage to say through the wailing and the tears was “Please help me!” and the people who were round, just walked past us in Fear. I can’t remember how long we were on the road, Coz the next thing I remember is finding myself in Nairobi! I don’t know how I got there. I don’t even know how my parents got to me. But all that was real to me was that I HAD SEEN RECCA GET KILLED FOR HAVING THE WRONG NAME! what would I tell her parents? What would I tell her Family? She had a name, that was right for them! She had dreams that were now dead too! It is a pain so deep that I don’t think I can express!

I fast forward to 10 years later, and as I look at the politicians’ campaign, I hear them only spread nothing but hate! I hear them organizing how this tribe shall not rule! How it is time for another tribe to take over! And I look as people allow the politicians to divide them along tribal lines and my spirit gets crushed within me. Because this tribal politics cost me my friend! For how long will we allow the politicians to divide us! For how long will it be my tribe versus your tribe! For how long will we vote for people because THEY HAVE THE RIGHT NAME!? I WRITE today to appeal to the nation, and to other nations as well, Tribal politics is costly! We must rise up in Africa and Say no to being Divided because of our names, our tribes!

I have been posting campaigns on social media urging the nation to shun tribal politics, maybe someone somewhere will not have to be killed, or bullied because HE OR SHE HAS GOT THE WRONG NAME! I say just Maybe; it is possible for us to vote this year without considering the tribe. Is it too much to wish for?

This story was submitted in response to Share On Any Topic.

Comments 4

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Jill Langhus
Jun 11, 2017
Jun 11, 2017

Wow! You are so brave, Abigael, for enduring that. Thanks for sharing your story. I can't believe the pain you must have endured and still do. I don't even know what to say, hardly. I'm glad you reached out and that it will help you. There aren't any organizations that you can appeal to? What about starting a petition on Change.org to bring awareness? Good luck and keep us posted on what you find out. I hope the situation improves soon for all your country and people.

AbigayleMutua
Jun 13, 2017
Jun 13, 2017

It has taken Alot for me to write it.  We have  activist groups campaigning for non violent elections in the country. As for bringing the perpetrators of such crimes to Justice,  we are pushing for the change of thy judiciary in the country. Hopefully this year's elections will be peaceful.

I will start a campaign on change.org.thank you for pointing that out.  

Jill Langhus
Aug 12, 2017
Aug 12, 2017

Hi Abigayle. Congrats on winning the Featured Storyteller award, twice... great job! I only just saw this response from you. I'm so glad you shared your story, even thought it must have been hard. Did you share your petition on here? If so, I don't remember seeing it.

Judey
Jun 18, 2017
Jun 18, 2017

This is a heartbreaking story that I somehow identify with, having listened to similar ones from friends who experienced the wrath of tribal clashes after the 2007 general election. My colleagues in campus witnessed people 'with the wrong name' get slashed right in their eyes. With elections less than two months away, it is sad that either the past experience has not taught us a lesson or people simply forget. Let me know when you launch the campaign on change.org, I will be glad to share it on my social media platforms.

Cheers,