There are some of those events that happened before most of us (including myself) were born. We were still naughty ideas swirling inside our fathers’ salacious minds. We just read about them in History classes, and perhaps watched them flash by during the 9.00 o’clock news. One such tragedy is the Wagalla Massacre of 1984, where Kenyan government forces raided the Degodia clan in Wajir at 5.00am and rained terror on them for four days.
For those four days, the world was silent when almost 3000 people met their end on an airstrip runway, some of whom were thrown into the forests to be eaten by hyenas. By the time news got to reporters in Nairobi, it was already mission accomplished for the Kenyan military, leaving behind a deathly smell in its wake.
History is HIS STORY – one man’s account of what happened. The people of Wagalla have a different account of what happened on that day, 10th February 1984. They still live to rue that morning. What we are taught in schools, what is reported in the news and what is written in the TJRC Report is evidently the wrong account of events.
To unearth the truth of what really happened in Wagalla thirty one years ago, is perhaps what propelled renowned Kenyan film director, Judy Kibinge, to put together the harrowing motion picture, Scarred. It took her three years to get the victims to speak out, and show the marks on their bodies to the world. Scars – a lifetime memento from the Kenyan military to the Degodia clan in Northern Kenya.
This past week, Judy Kibinge’s film was screened at The Louis Leakey Auditorium at the National Museum in Nairobi to mark the 31st Anniversary of the Wagalla Massacre. She spoke about the challenges she had to go through, the most daunting being the fact that she had to make survivors and victims relive the darkest moments in their lives.
It was a well-attended somber event that attracted Members of Parliament, a Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Human Rights Activists, NGO representatives, artists, victims of the massacre and a crowd of remorseful patriots.
The truth is, there is a lot of history that is left untold. From the Garissa Massacre to the Shifta Wars, to the early political assassinations of Robert Ouko, JM Kariuki and Pio Gama Pinto, and to the shootings at the New Nyanza Hospital in Kisumu in October 25, 1969 (Kisumu Massacre) .
Who will tell these stories?
Judy Kibinge and others of her ilk are branching out from mainstream film making to tackle these important topics, yes, but they can only do so much. The general consensus at Louis Leakey that evening was that artists of every shade need to pull together and tell our stories, our history, before they fade away into the trash bins of our psyches.
The screening of Ms. Kibinge’s film, Scarred, was more than just a reminder of how much we have decided to forget as a nation. It was a rallying call to quit this notion of “accept and move on.” A plea to confront the demons of our past if we ever want to get rid of today’s nightmares that manifest themselves in the form of horrors like Post Election Violence 2008, Kasarani Concentration Camp, Kapedo Tragedy, Lamu and Westgate Attacks.
Let’s face it. Our government will never take a knee and apologise for the Wagalla Massacre. It has it’s face so far up its arse, all it can see, smell and talk is plain shit. The Truth Justice & Reconciliation Commission report will probably be left to gather dust alongside other public inquiry reports on some privileged shelf. Thus the Degodia Clan of Wagalla will get almost no reparation. The wounds on their bodies have healed, but the ones in their hearts and minds are still fresh sores.
As a nation, Kenya has deliberately denied the Wagalla people justice. Through our actions and inactions we have done nothing more than paint the them with shades of grey. But thanks to Judy Kibinge, they will at least have a voice to tell their version of events.
And who needs an apology, when all we ever really needed is a voice?