Someone somewhere is mourning the death of their dad. Another is seen publicly wiping a tear for having lost a friend. In another part of the country, a woman seats in a small shanty as she watches trucks driving slowly past her. She is dark with short hair, she’s dressed in black jeans, a white top, and Maasai sandals. She is not young, neither is she too old. She sips from a bottle, for she is a girl of the bottle. She does not cringe from the bitter drink, no she is used to this.
Her name is Philomena. Had you met her close to 30 years ago you would have met an academician. A proud PhD holder and a lecturer at the reputable University Of Nairobi. She lectured during the reign of the dead man. When he was in power. Phil as many of her friends would refer to her had demons. To drown these demons, Phil led a reckless life. She wanted to commit suicide to put her demons to rest. She couldn’t because of her religious affiliations. She is catholic. She led a promiscuous life, drunk herself silly and barely ate.
During one of her lecturers, Phil advised her students to be aware of the Injustice that was being conducted at the time. She would open her eyes at 2.00 a.m to find five men in her bedroom. Each man taking their desired position in her tiny room. The men picked her and threw her into a landrover and they drove around. The drive was long, they took time going round and round the city. The night was pitch black. The buzzing of mosquitos, chirping of crickets and the thudding of her heart could be heard. They would later stop at a police station where a bag was put on her head and the drive continued. It was at an underground cell, that the bag was removed. She was stripped and a horse pipe was directed to her. Her nude self was drenched, not to mention the pain caused by the pressure from the water. The same pipe was directed to the ceiling and floor.
“Drip!Drip!Drip!”. “I cannot forget the dripping of water from the ceiling to the cold floor.” “It was extremely cold. I could not sit because the floor was extremely wet and I was naked”. So she stood. As she grew tired, she leaned on the wall for support but fatigued pushed her further and she caved in. She slowly trailed her body on the bare cold wall as she sat down. The torture would continue from time to time. At one point, she was brought out of the cell. “I was tirelessly interrogated”. “They wanted to know who I was planning to overthrow the government with”. This was foreign as she knew nothing about such. A female cop from the “special branch” pulled her by her hair when she failed to respond before launching to beat her to a pulp.
This awes her to date. The fact that a woman could watch commit such an act to a fellow woman. At one point she was raped countlessly. “The female cops cheered the men as I screamed.” The human body can surprise you on how much it can handle. My nipples were held with pliers and pulled so hard that I couldn’t scream anymore. She remembers men opening her up and hot candle wax was slowly poured on her clit. The torture was so gruesome that at some point her tears dried up.” I stopped crying”. They thought that she had grown immune to the pain because she did not tear. Hence the torture was increased to a whole other level. A rungu was inserted into her vagina. She still did not cry. Something in her had died. “I awaited death”. “I wanted to die so badly but nothing seemed to kill me”. So she’d lie on the cold floor, waiting for the next set of torture.
Philomena was released six months after the day of her arrest. She was given a robe and thrown into a landrover. She would later be thrown by the roadside in Machakos where she was able to find her way back home. Today you will find a broken Philomena still chasing death. She still sleeps around with truckers. She heavily imbibes hard liquor with hopes that her liver will fail and she will finally die. She leaves at 1.a.m after the conversation with a trucker. As soon as they step out, the darkness envelops them as though it understanding what she’d been through
An old man sits under a tree listening keenly to his radio. He was among the many people who had been arrested and released during the Nyayo regime. Since his release, he’s never spoken to anyone. He went mute.“The body will leave Lee funeral home at 9.00 a.m, It would be taken to Nyayo Stadium where a funeral ceremony would be held” The presenter announced. He scoffs. “It has finally caught up with him”, he mutters. Since his release, he’s gone mute. He never speaks to anyone. His primary means of communication are grunts. Through his different grunts, his family has come to find out the different ways to be of service. In the early 1980s, he was a lawyer and member of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK). At an L.S.K event, in the same year, he spoke out on the sham trial of people who had been accused of an attempted coup d’etat. What seemed to him as an innocent statement would later get him to the gallows.
He was later arrested and taken to an underground cell. In the same cell, a floodlight was put. It was too bright, too warm he couldn’t sleep, could not think. He would later be removed from his cell and brought to an interrogation room. He was grilled. They wanted to know why he wanted to overthrow the government and with whom. “I had never been beaten, not like that”. “I mean I had gone through corporal punishment but this was different”. I was thoroughly battered. He was taken back to the cell. From time to time, he would be brought out, interrogated ill-treated and dragged back to his cell. “I went for days without food, to the point that I started eating my excrement”. The worst of it happened when a lighter was lit under his genitals. “It was excruciating”.This one time, two men held his legs wide open, as another stamped his genitals. He’s grateful that he had progeny, for he knew that there was no way he would have kids after that ordeal.
“I was lying down on the floor in my cell when the doors flew open”. He was carried out, cleaned and taken to meet the “BOSS”. He apologized for my mistreatment. He had found a way to end my misery, but there was a catch. He had to name his accomplice. They told me that they had arrested my wife and daughters and they would rape and beat them. He pleaded with them, asking them to let his girls go. As he was still pleading he heard a young girl screaming “daddy”. “That was my breaking point”. “I couldn’t imagine anything happening to my girl”. He gave them names. Names of innocent men who wouldn’t even hurt a fly. Most of them were arrested and during the torture, one succumbed to the torture. “This haunts me to date”.
He was taken to the High court where he was sentenced to ten years in jail. He was incarcerated at Kamiti and while he was serving his time, he decided to stop talking. His mouth had hurt too many people, he decided to shut it. He went mute by choice. During the interview, he shows his scars naming every torture that warranted them. From cigarette burns to candle wax, he knew his scars my size, shape, and the tool of torture used.
The former president Moi will be accorded a 19 gun salute during his burial. His body would be laid to rest in his Kabarak home, next to his late wife Lena as was his wish. President Moi might have been laid to rest. But in the hearts of many people who went through the torturous Nyayo chambers, he will never be forgotten.