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Scandal at Lanet

INJUSTICE

Ayere’s younger brothers ( they were all my cousins, ofcourse sons of my mother’s brother) were the last in the family to join the Armed forces. They went for training together before they were eventually stationed at Gilgil. The older of the brothers was a real firebrand. He drank and fought like only soldiers in peacetime can and he loved to chase the skirts.

The younger brother was more of the quiet type; he liked to talk things through he was the one people came to when they wanted advice. His career was moving steadily in the right direction and it was agreed that he was destined for great things. In his spare time he wrote poetry and read classic authors. He did not socialise much with the others but he was well liked.

In one of those incredible moments the older soldier man came to a decision. He figured that he had played the field for several years now and that it was time to settle down and raise a family. It came as no surprise to Ayere and the family when their brother married Saaida, the daughter of a local tycoon.

Saaida was beautiful, bright and charming and Ayere’s brother was well and truly under her spell. Her father had made his money in the destructive industry of deforestation. It is told that in his heyday Mr Matumbo’s lorries ferrying charcoal out of Musitu forest near Naivasha would stretch like a military convoy as far as the eye could see. He was personally responsible for the disappearance of this forest, which was a major catchment area feeding fresh water to the lake.

The happy couple soon moved into married quarters and begun wedded bliss. The new husband found his feet and became a serious and responsible character. He got on well in his job and was promoted several times by military superiors. It is when things are going well like this that you hear a knock on the door and open it to find some kind of nasty inconvenience.

Some time back a certain Master Sergeant Samuel Doe had overthrown the civilian government in Liberia. When his turn came the rebels came for him and shot him in the street “kama mbwa”, as our own benign dictator Mr Daniel liked to remind us. In due course the UN wheels slowly swung into motion ordering a peace keeping force to be sent to the Liberian killing fields to disarm the rebels and restore order.

Ayere’s older brother was amongst the initial 250 troops that were sent in advance. On arrival they immediately got to work and their unit received praise from many quarters for their even handed professionalism. A story reached us of how a group of villagers kidnapped by the rebel militia had been rescued by “blue helmets” who braved minefields and heavy machine gunfire in the thick rain forest to get the villagers to safety. Ayere’s brother was in command of that operation.

Back in Nairobi things were not too great for Saaida. Whilst she knew that being married to a soldier meant long periods apart, the news from Liberia was distressing. Rumours were coming in that our boys were ill equipped and did not have the capacity to defend themselves against the rebel forces. There was also news of unpaid allowances and poor moral. Saaida went to visit her young brother in law now based at Lanet. He reassured her and told her that the rumours were without foundation. He was able to calm her down and by the time she left she was actually in good spirits. Two days later she received a letter from her husband which laid her fears to rest.

In a short time whenever Saaida was feeling blue she would go to Lanet. Initially she told her young brother-in-law that she was visiting friends in Nakuru and had thought to check on him on the way and he, ever the gentleman was always happy to see her. She told a close friend, ” Eddo is just a friend, he listens to me and I feel comfortable talking to him…” Her friend had been questioning the wisdom of these weekend trips to Lanet. “these things had a habit of ending in tears”, she observed. “well just remember that you are married to Patrick….. and Eddo is his brother”

The visits continued. It was strange that whenever she could not see Eddo she was like a broken person suffering pains of withdrawal from a powerful drug. It happened once that she “dropped in” at Lanet and he was away. She was informed that he had been sent to Kahawa on official business. For Saaida, blinded by tears the drive back to Nairobi was a struggle.

One evening during the rains in april Saaida called in to see Eddo. They went out for a meal and came back quite late. Back at the house they relaxed over coffee before Eddo suggested that what with the late hour and the bad weather and roads perhaps she should stay the night.There was a spare room which would be quite adequate. It was agreed, the room prepared and they bade each other goodnight Much later Saaida gathered her guts, left her bed and went into Eddo’s room. She slid under the covers beside him. Eddo leapt out of the bed as one stung by a scorpion.

“Saaida! What is the meaning of this? why are you doing this.” She poured out her feelings and told him that he was the one for her. Eddo said it was impossible.It was not going to happen. She was the wife of his brother and that was how it was going to be. With that, he grabbed his clothes and left the room. Moments later She heard the front door bang shut.

Saaida had to move fast. Like her dad Matumbo she was an expert at damage limitation She dressed and went out. Dawn was just breaking as she pulled her car into the gates of the military police station.

“I wish to report an assault by one of your soldiers” she told the sleepy desk sergeant.

Weeks later, Eddo was put before a court martial and despite his strong denials of any wrong doing he was booted out of the army. Despite his good character and glowing references from his superiors a promising career ended in a dishonourable discharge.

Meanwhile in Lobo west of Monrovia, a UN Landrover carrying peace keepers was returning from a mission in the forest when a mine exploded beneath it. The vehicle was lifted several metres into the air. All the occupants were killed in ensuing fireball that engulfed their vehicle. Patrick who commanded the mission would never get to hear of the scandal at Lanet.


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9 Comments

  1. Hmm, quite a sad ending. Is this fiction or is it real?

  2. Sad indeed @Otieno because it was largely based on true events – the names and places are changed. The central idea is one of injustice. The ICC has found Charles Taylor guilty but look where they propose to send him to prison. Justice for the victims? No use looking here…..

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. A well told but sad story. When I was reading it I felt you were inspired by the recent judgement in the Charles Taylor case to write about something connected to Liberia.

  4. Thanks @Joyful. The Taylor trial and verdict forces us to ask deeper questions about what we really expect from the Hague. It does not address his countless victims in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Taylor may be headed for prison – what about the guys who actually carried out his orders of rape, mutilation and murder? Hague does not address that. Will it be the same for Ocampo4?

  5. I understand. Right now there are many people in Kenya who are chomping at the bit to see the Ocampo 4 have trial and be convicted. My own thoughts are these people may not be the directors of the criminal acts, they are not even the ones that carried out the brutal acts. there are so many others who are guilty of heinous crimes and yet it is doubtful they will ever go to trial. Is it right that a few should pay for the crimes of many? And, if they are jailed, will that bring justice to the people? These are things I think of too.

  6. On the Hague thing, justice is a fickle thing, oft confused with vengeance. I wonder that its purported pursuit is worth us giving up our sovereignty.

    On the story, very poignant. Do you only do short storos?

  7. @Binti- hi I never thought of the relation between justice and vengeance before and how we often mistake the two. It is certainly a deep question. Taylor will live in relative comfort compared to the surviving victims of that war and that cannot be just. Short storos are my hobby…thanks for visiting

  8. You write your stories well, leaving us with questions at the end of the day.

  9. Very well written. But what a sad story! injustice indeed.

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