32 years ago today, residents of Wajir County woke up to the presence of heavily armed contingents of Kenyan security forces who rounded up men from the Degodia clan, hurled them into the back of military tracks and flocked them to Wagalla airstrip resulting in what has come to be known as the Wagalla massacre.
For four days, they were denied food, water and forced to lay naked on the hot gravel of the airstrip in the scorching sun. They were continuously beaten and tortured, with some executed in cold blood by the Kenyan army.
Bodies of victims were doused in a highly flammable liquid and set ablaze, others were transported and dumped in all corners of Wajir for the hyenas to feed on.
Widows and daughters of the victims were maimed and raped as hell broke loose.
This ‘systematic’ targeting of the Degodia clan is on record as Kenya’s worst cases of human rights abuses.
For years, the Kenyan government has put the official number of dead at only 57 but witness accounts put the figure at 5,000.
Even the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up to investigate human rights violations and other historical injustices in Kenya only stated “close to a thousand” people were killed in Wagalla.
The commission also stated it was “unable to determine the precise number of persons murdered”.
A monument erected in Wajir town’s Orahey grounds by the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights in honor of the dead was defaced in April 2014 by people allegedly protesting the grabbing of the Orahey grounds. This was was the only official recognition of the massacre and it is now gone.
Exact account of what happened in Wagalla is in the public domain and space would not allow us to re-tell the horror story.
As we mark #WagallaMassacreAt31, we join the World in Marking this dark chapter of the history of Wajir and Kenya at large by paying tributes to all those who in way or the other suffered as a result of this heinous act.