Dear Janet and All,
we had a meeting of youth (between averagely 20 to 40 years of age). The
meeting had five agendas: 1: HIV/AIDS situation in the area and unique
behaviors observed from the infected
2: Malaria situation in the area and the best the community can offer in
the control of malaria and the
3: Killing of those practicing witchcraft and other vices like stealing,
4: Horticulture projects in the community.
Briefly, I've 3 stories for help in decision and guidance
1: We have some people here whose minds are not upright....they just
roam from here and there, talking to themselves, sometimes sleep
outside, they are a people at times go without food. These people are
believed to have bewitched some people sometimes back and they are being
haulted by those whom they killed....But when you look at their
background, these are men and mostly women who have lost their spouses,
beloved children...and probably they have gotten confusion in their
minds due to depressions...how can these kind of people be helped?
One sad incidence of last week, one of these women got lost from their
family for 5 days and found dead...stomach parts, thighs or just most
parts of her body eaten, believed to had been eaten by
hynas in the bush on the hill. The woman is old over 60s now but have
died this sad death ...simply because nobody had any concern on
her, simply believed to be a
2: In December holidays two widows were sent away from home ....these
women are believed to have HIV/AIDS and are on antroviral
drugs....one behavior which was very serious , they started going out
with young boys arround any howly, always drunk of alcohol....the
society feared of their behavior and sent them away. This behavior is
not common with only these two ladies but its something common with most
people who find themselves to be positive and this now really causing a
lot of fear to society...how can this be
3:There is a case of a certain woman who one time suprised people last
year...a hippo had killed a girl in my place here....the hippo had the
girl in the mouth inside water, raise the body up and down. People and
police officer started chasing the hippo and suddenly a certain woman
was also running with the people a long the lake as the hippo was being
chased , calling the hippo by names people could not believe....telling
the hippo to drop the body and disappear, it would be killed ....the
woman was really crying the hippo untill the police feared to kill
it......the hippo had beads on the neck and this showed us the hippo
really belonged to this person. I remember it was being said, she
was also pleading with the police that even if they kill the hippo
she be allowed to have her beads
Janet at your
research, incase you met these kind of similar stories what would be
I need help and contributions from all
corners before our next meeting of end of
--- On Thu, 3/26/09, Janet Feldman
Janet Feldman <kaippg@...>
Subject: Re: [mendenyo]
Activism for Those Killed in Recent "Witchcraft" Burnings/theatre in
India addresses this!
Date: Thursday, March 26, 2009,
Dear Peter and All,
It's wonderful to hear from you on this
subject, and there seem indeed to be linkages between peace and
development, HIV/AIDS, young people, the status of women in rural
Kenya, and these accusations and deaths.
I have been doing some research about
this the past day or so, and have come up with some very interesting
facts and observations, about which I will post here. HelpAge Kenya, a
chapter of HelpAge International (www.helpage. org) is working on this
issue in Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique, as it is apparently a big
problem in all these places.
One heartening thing I ran across is the
use of theater in India to address this subject, with the hope of
effecting behavior change and preventing further deaths. It would be
fantastic if our own resident creatives could do something on this
You bring up other interesting points,
such as the role of the Kenyan police. The police have arrested 10
people in this killing, and we are hopeful that there will be
prosecutions, but all too often in the past--as you say--the forces of
"law and order" have not been effective in addressing this situation.
The "people" need to help them be moreso, though that is surely a tall
order. It would be good to strategize how that might be
You also bring up another good point,
namely abt the role of government. It is so important to include the
local and national governments in addressing this
And young people! Young people seem to be
the predominant group doing the killing, while older people are the
target group. Especially women. A similar issue pertains to how young
people are behaving in this situation as it did last year, during the
post-election violence: lack of opportunity and
skills-development, leading to frustration and anger. So anything done
about this particular issue must be aware of the "larger" measures
that ultimately need to be taken.
When you refer to wild animals being kept
by people, are you referring to so-called "witch-doctors" or
"witches"? In some of my research, it appears that "witch
doctors"--mostly men--seem to be generally well-respected in rural
communities, where they use traditional medicine to help people, as
there are no other remedies. These "doctors" are the ones to sometimes
accuse others, esp women, of being witches.
One wonders what is going on there?
Gender discrimination, to be sure, but also trying to eliminate the
"competition" perhaps? I suppose there are some women who
practice herbology, and perhaps even use "smoke" and other practices
to cleanse people of so-called "evil spirits", as this is what people
believe to be making them sick. That helping impulse could be their
downfall at times.
A key question is: even if you can
eliminate the idea and reality of witch doctors and witches, what will
take its place, esp when there is no other medicine available?
Hopefully "traditional healers" who call themselves just that (and
leave the crocodiles in the rivers :)).
Thanks again for your great letter, and
please keep me informed of any activities you might be doing, as will
I! With all best wishes and blessings, Janet
Original Message -----
Wednesday, March 25, 2009 1:40 AM
Re: [mendenyo] Activism for Those Killed in Recent "Witchcraft"
Burnings in Nyamataro, Kisii, Kenya
Surely this is
something which has been going all through without proper
addressing.. ...in Kisii they are easily reporting these
matters , my place is worst hit by this behaviour. Innocent
people go into cold, loss property without sympathy, children
drop from schools, early marriages are rampage in the area.
Infact this is the area you can still find 12 year old
girl married off any howly. The community is very hostile when
it comes to witchcrafty. ....year always goes with not less
than 5 killed in these circumstances. .....Gwassi is most
hitted place , if something can be done on this, I think
we would have peace of the day.
Talking about police in Kenya, I doubt what they can
do....several times they arrest but a short time killers walk
back free....impunity and corruptions are very high in the
country such that I doubt whether police would help to
stop this habit of killings while raping and early marriages
have been waliking back free despite the efforts of children's
right group taking them to police station with victimised at
I've learnt from the area I
work, there is an encouragement of parliament of common man
started arround...they usually meet ones a week for 3 hours,
in our place it has not started yet, I hope to lobby the
youths around and to have this witchcraft killings as a case
to discuss and try to help the community to understand that
this not an encouraging ways of eliminating vices in the area.
Unfornately, these people are also very bad, imagine somebody
owning crocidile, hippopotamus, snakes, leopard in the
home....their must be that kind of fear with the community...
.if police can help to eliminate owning of these kinds of
animals, then the community would be in peace to tackle these
vices peacefully without
I'll come later.
--- On Tue, 3/24/09, Janet Feldman
<kaippg@earthlink. net> wrote:
Janet Feldman <kaippg@earthlink. net>
[mendenyo] Activism for Those Killed in Recent "Witchcraft"
Burnings in Nyamataro, Kisii, Kenya
yahoogroups. com, Kenya-aids@yahoogro ups.com
voiceful@yahoogroup s.com, mendenyo@yahoogroup
Date: Tuesday, March 24, 2009, 9:49 PM
A number of people have weighed
in on the terrible burning deaths, about 10 days
ago, of 5 people in Nyamataro in Kisii (Kenya). These people
were accused of "witchcraft" by a crowd that set them
on fire and watched while they died. It is sad to note
that all were older people (80 years and above), and four of
the five were women.
All of us who have seen the video
i=dae_1236854361) have been stunned and horrified.
Individually and collectively, we have decided to do what we
can to address this situation, especially as it has happened
too many times before this incident. Please read
below about two such actions people can
The first is to contact the
Kenya Police and express your outrage and concern. The
second is to band together for collective action. The first
posting below gives contact info for the police, and the
second gives the email address of someone--Matunda
Nyanchama--to contact to get involved with a group
seeking to prevent further such deaths, and also
to address its root causes.
Thanks very much for whatever
you can do to help!
1) Peter Ngunyi (pkngunyi@yahoo. com)
I made the
initiative to call the Kenya Police, and Eric Kiraithe
assured me that they have arrested 10 people and are
charging them with murder.
For those who care to
register their concern, he can be reached at ekiraither@yahoo. com or
kkiraither@gmail. com, or by phone at
You can also contact David Ochami at davidkoch2@yahoo. com , an EAS reporter who
is working on the story.
2) Matunda Nyanchama (matunda@hotmail. com)
We are discussing an initiative that would involve the
community, seek their understanding of the law, and ensure
that similar events don't happen in the future.
Should we succeed, we would support a number of barazas held
by grassroots organizations, communities and leaders to put
these matters into perspective; and thus ensure that the
people understand due process and that they help law
enforcement to do their work.
c) We will call for law
enforcement to do their work appropriately.
will advocate, as a matter of urgency, that the economic
situation be addressed. There are a massive number of people
without work, without land, and without hope. And this
can lead directly to crime and violence.
Five lynched over witchcraft claim in
Published on 28/02/2009
By Robert Nyasato and
Five elderly people accused of
witchcraft were burnt to death in Kisii. The four women and
one man were accused of abducting a child and making him
dumb through black magic, on Thursday.
Bomatara village in Mosocho division, Kitutu Chache
constituency gathered in the morning following word that
witches had abducted the minor. The child, who was abandoned
by the roadside, pointed out those who abducted him. They
allegedly owned up before being set ablaze.
DC Ben Njoroge and the Deputy OCPD Manasseh Musyoka held a
baraza and warned wananchi against lynching witchcraft
Those lynched were identified as Boyani
Gichana, Yobensia Onguso, Sandimu Mageto, Mary Yusita and
Ongubo Ichari. They were all aged over 80. The DC told
residents to report suspects to authorities. Twelve
suspected witches were killed in the same area last year.
Musyoka said police would patrol the area on 24-hour basis
to avert further lynching.
Meanwhile, Malindi DC Arthur Mugira has accused
politicians of frustrating the war against the killers of
elderly people suspected of practising witchcraft. He also
warned chiefs against colluding with the suspects. Mugira
said politicians were frustrating efforts by security agents
to crack down on the murderers instead of backing
The DC, who was launching the second phase of
the Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) for the district's
security team at the Malindi County Hall, said the
Provincial Administration has been preaching against the
vice in public barazas.
"We have done what we are
supposed to do but our leaders are not supporting us. We
shall continue with our work of ensuring peace and stability
prevails in the district," he said.
In an apparent
reference to a statement by a top politician that police and
administrators were harassing innocent residents, Mugira
urged politicians to let the security agents do their
The DC said every chief would be allocated five
APs to assist them keep law and order. He said there was
need for administrators to establish why locals, especially
the youth, were obsessed with the killing of elderly
Malindi OCPD Peter Kattam told the
chiefs to ensure that they get proper evidence before
suspects are arrested to enable police successfully
Lynching of 'witches' is murder
Recent reports on killings
of elderly people that have been going on are horrifying.
The images from the media have sent shock waves among
Kenyans. It is unthinkable that old men and women are being
attacked and burnt to death on allegations and suspicion of
Last week on Friday, six
people were killed in Kisii, while 14 were murdered late
last year in Malindi. Similar incidents have also been
reported in parts of Kwale and Kilifi districts.
victims are often single, older women and attacks mostly
occur where these women lose property rights, leaving them
isolated and vulnerable.
There are myths about the characteristics of
witches that fit those of old women. Red eyes as a result of
a lifetime of cooking over a smoky fireplace, or wandering
in the night, possibly connected to undiagnosed dementia,
are thought to prove the case of engaging in
Accusations are usually connected with
unexplained events in local communities such as death or
crop failure, and these often lead to suspects being chased
away from their homes to live in exile or to lynchings by
Perpetrators, who comprise mainly the youth,
are hardly ever arrested, and when they are, they are
usually freed without any charge. This has provided fertile
ground for impunity to breed, resulting in more
The Government needs to provide security for
its citizens regardless of their age. The elderly have made
a great contribution to the country and continue to do so,
especially in view that they are taking care of more than 40
per cent of orphans and other vulnerable children.
The State also has to ensure that these individuals,
most of whom have no income, are able to support themselves
and their dependants through provision of a social
HelpAge Kenya and
its partners urge the State to arrest and prosecute all
perpetrators of these heinous crimes.
Kenya is a
signatory to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of
Discrimination Against Women, and is obliged to protect the
rights of older people from abuse.
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