Celebrating East African Writing!
Written by Ruth Lucinde
“I want all to know that if I disappear from the scene because the bush is vast and hyenas many, that I am not planning any accident nor, God forbid, any self destruction.” If I Die-Father John Kaiser.
Sunday, August 20
Standing before his congregation, Fr.Kaiser could barely place out the words he intended for his sermon. He glanced at the holy book, then at the eager eyes staring at him, and finally back at the Bible-his mouth went dry. His throat could barely produce a sound. No! He couldn’t give into his fears. That would be the very thing expected of him. He was not that kind of a person. Peace was the message of the sermon that he vehemently delivered. His was a shaky voice but even his conviction couldn’t hide the pain and fear he carried within. As he concluded, tears cascaded down his old wrinkled face. He had no point of hiding it. And he didn’t.
Earlier on, he had received a letter him from the pope’s spokesman. He was inNairobiand he expected to meet with Fr.Kaiser before he left for theVaticanlater in the evening.
Wednesday, August 23
“This Kenyan roads! Akh! I think I’ll change my vote next elections,”
“You know even if you change your vote, the roads will remain this horrible! Bro, did you watch last night’s game?”
“Imagine I didn’t, Mary came over with all her demands and issues .I couldn’t even go to…”
John Nyaribo’s attention was taken over by a whiteToyotapickup truck at the side of the road. The driver’s door was wide open but no one seemed to be inside. He immediately directed his car’s trajectory towards the pickup against his brother, Henry’s, complaints. The minute they stepped out of the car, Henry was more convinced that they shouldn’t have left the vehicle. He stood rooted to the ground. His feet as cold as ice-heavy bricks of ice that radiated sparks of shock, tension and fear into his bones.”Jo…Joh…John! He is dead!!Th…The…mzungu is dead!”
Below an acacia tree just beside the pickup lay a white Caucasian man. The obviously lifeless pale blue body lay on its back in a half-damaged brick drainage culvert. Eyes bulged out, fists clenched in anger and a mouth twisted into a painful visage. The man looked old. He was about 6 feet 2 inches and maybe 200 pounds in weight. His black leather jacket and gray trousers that had mud and spatters of blood all over them told of a terrifying story on what may have conspired. On his side were an old but lethal double barreled shotgun and a pair of blankets and sheets. A dark red pool of blood flooded around his head forming a sort of gruesome pillow-the pillow of death. Something was definitely not right in the picture before their eyes. For a moment, the two remained thoughtless, speechless, and expressionless. How did he get there? Who killed him? Why didn’t they take the car? Was it an assassination? If so, who was the mzungu man on the ground?
Fr.Kaiser’s life took a dramatic turn on that fateful day when he was transferred from his official post at the Kisii diocese to Maela Refugee camp in Masaai land. He was barely a priest anymore. Not after seeing what the innocent, helpless and homeless internally displaced people went through. That wasn’t what life was meant to be. He wanted more for them. He fought for more from them. Unknowingly, he sealed his fate for himself.
It was during his time with the refugees at the camp, that he discovered the truth behind all the lies. Forged from the selfish intentions of greedy politicians, the clashes were a perfect cover story to hide their true intentions. Land grabbing. When the camp was closed by orders from ‘higher’ authorities, Fr.Kaiser was devastated.
Fruits of a true patriot are disappointment. Fruits of a true humanitarian on the other hand are torture, abuse and unfathomable hatred from those one speaks against. Fr.Kaiser didn’t expect any less when he turned his wheel and took the path of speaking against the atrocities he had witnessed.
Following the increased rise of internal tribal clashes, the Akiwumi Commission was formed to look into the causes of the clashes and what led to the closing of the Maela Camp. Fr.Kaiser saw some hope for the victims he had interacted with and offered to testify at the proceedings. He sited the then president and some of his ministers as culprits in the clashes. He also accused one of the ministers of allegedly sexually molesting some two teenage girls and forcing them to abort their pregnancies. His allegations created uproar in the country. He hit all the right notes among the hearts of the common mwananchi but stirred up wrath and anger within those he accused.
Monday, August 21
It had been three days since he last slept. He had nightmares every night. The sounds of the birds in the morning made him shake with fear. He turned every second to look over his back as he walked. He could hear voices in his head telling him to stop. He sobbed like a child. He was depressed, confused. He was falling apart.
Tuesday, August 22
Alone in the guest room at his long time friend, Paul Boyle’s house, Fr.Kaiser was deep in thought. He remembered that day, after his testimony at the Akiwumi commission, when he was summoned by some government officials. They said that his work permit inKenyawas due and he was being deported. Luckily, the embassy renewed it.
Then, there was that day four hooded young men attacked him on his way home from the evening mass. Tears sped down his cheeks as he recalled how the young lads mercilessly beat him to a pulp. They didn’t seem to want his money.
Fr.Kaiser was a courageous man, but even he knew that he could not fight for human rights if he was dead. The third is always the last. It came via a note tied to a stone that was thrown through his window at home. Utaona moto, it read.
Later in the evening, he set out for Nakuru. The following day would be the final day for him to present the evidence he had to the comission.
“I don’t think I will make it through the night, Paul. They’ll say it was suicide”.
“Don’t you think you should wait till the morning? I could have my driver…”
“This is my own doing, let me finished what I started.”
Fr.Kaiser got into his Toyota Pickup, said a prayer, then started a journey whose destination he would not reach.
Halfway through the journey, at Morendat, a government van sped past then parked in front of him. Three men heavily armed stepped out of the car and rushed to his. He was roughly dragged out of his car. He fell down with a thud onto a paddle of mud at the side of the road. One of the men snatched the briefcase he tightly gripped bruising Fr.Kaiser’s nose in the process. He begged for mercy but his pleas fell on deaf ears.
“Mzungu! Amka! Walk towards that tree and don’t look back!”
Click! Click! The last sound Fr.Kaiser heard was that of his shotgun’s safety being unlocked.