Monday, October 16 ended as all days do in Nyanza: with a Lake Sunset.
Where everything catches a golden warmness. The sky became, as it does each evening, a high continent unto itself, a complex of detail and liquid with its own valleys and rivers — sour pink, punchy details, milky swaths. It became pure and furious.
That particular sunset marked the end of that day’s heavy demonstrations throughout Nyanza. And cruelly ironic in its magnificence, it marked the end of another life taken by police brutality.
This time, his name was Michael Okoth. At approximately 2pm, the eighteen-year-old died near Kondele in Kisumu City with a gunshot to his neck.
At the mortuary, his grandmother wept and wailed, speaking to him over his body. “We thought you were home. My child, we thought you were home. We didn’t know you had gone out to see the protests.”
Momentum was strong but unclear. Green leaves, fastened to the front of almost every bicycle, motorcycle, and bus, were a good omen: change and activity, or perhaps protection like hyssop. Limber boughs of siala, oboke, even fluttering puffs of papyrus speeding through roundabouts.
But there were also bad omens: men banging on an empty billboard holder, which sounds like gunshots without the warmth. Men slapping large black PVC pipes on the ground, which sounds like gunshots without the chill.
“Ua! Ua! Ua!” they said.