“Generally, it goes without saying that man per se, his history and his environment tend to be violent, and one may even say that violence comes naturally to man. This natural tendency to violence does not distinguish him from ‘other species of the natural kingdom’. However, the very nature of human violence differs quite drastically.”

It is 2.00 a.m. and after failed attempts to try and get a good night’s sleep, I awaken, switch the lights on and sit up.

“I have a continuous assessment test tomorrow, I might as well study,” or so I tell myself.

I switch on my computer and press play the video I was watching on YouTube before I set my computer to sleep. The news livestream was over and KTN was airing a clip by BBC concerning the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi.

This clip comes just minutes after the news aired what I consider as “a life for a life”. The breaking news this fateful day was the apparent extra-judicial killing of a boda boda motorist who saved a young girl’s life. According to KTN’s Rita Tinina, Daniel Mburu Wangari, the 24 year old victim rushed Agnes Waheti and her daughter to Mama Ngina Hospital gate and forced his way in to the emergency room. According to witnesses, the motorist refused to leave the woman and her child just outside the gate and insisted on getting them in; much to the annoyance of the security guards. After he came out, a scuffle ensued between him and the security guards and moments later, a police officer shot the victim and fled the scene. Protestors started demonstrating over this act and police officers were immediately sent to disperse the crowds. Anyone can make out from the clip that even those persons who had gone to receive treatment at the hospital were ordered to leave the hospital premises; which they did in a hurry lest they fall victim to such. To Sarah Wangari, this loss of her only child as a single mother may as well be one of the darkest moments in her life.

In other news making headlines weeks ago, a young boy was killed and a stray bullet got lodged in a teenager’s thigh as a result of police in Kiganjo conducting trainings in community land; what the media terms as negligence on the part of the police. What is interesting, however, is that there seems to be no accountability from the police whatsoever. In the book “Criminology in Africa”, Ben F. Smit attempts to explain how violence is or rather, becomes a weapon of the dispossessed. He brings in three main ideas or theories that attempt to provide some blameworthiness to the perpetrators of violence; cultural conditioning (violence as acquired behaviour); psychological factors (violence as pathological behaviour) and utilitarianism (violence as goal-oriented behaviour). Utilitarianism brings out the aspect of ‘the greater good’ and in this case, attempts to vitiate some form of rationality in or of violence.

I was going through Twitter in the morning and what caught my attention were tweets from Gathara (@gathara) who tweeted Currently reading Caroline Elkins’ “The Biritish Gulag” and wondering how many of the British settlers who committed despicable crimes against the Mau Mau suspects as part of the Kenya Police Reserve or Kenya Regiment still live in Kenya and why none have never been held to account. In the replies section he goes on to ask questions I found really important, like “…why do we not have a comprehensive history of the colonial period? Why do we not name the people, both black and white, who dispossessed, massacred and tortured countless equally nameless victims?…” “Who was the British settler nicknamed Dr Bunny, aka Joseph Mengele of Kenya, who was known for devising techniques like ‘burning the skin off live Mau Mau suspects and forcing them to eat their own testicles’?…”

The aspect of violence may not be a new concept to most Africans, many still experiencing the same decades after independence. Just days ago, I was looking into Agenda 2063 whose genesis was “the realization by African leaders that there was a need to refocus and reprioritize Africa’s agenda from the struggle against apartheid and the attainment of political independence for the continent, which had been a major focus of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU); the precursor of the African Union…”

These occurrences remain vivid in the minds of most survivors of violence many years later. The state of constitutionalism in East Africa has been stained with a somewhat similar history; Kenya experiencing a state of violence in 2007/2008. However, we mustn’t go back to a similar state of affairs, and extra-judicial killing is just but an aspect of state or civil violence. Amnesty International’s Executive Director Houghton Irungu condemned this act in a statement, “The police standing orders require every single police officer to report to the Independent Police Oversight Authority within 24 hours of a fatality or a serious injury in the course of duty. Sadly, as we speak this time period has expired. We have what is the equivalent of a hit and run.

In Mushanga’s ‘Criminology in Africa’ Ben F. Smit quotes Hartogs and Artzt “…Man is a killer distinct from the others. Hardly ever among the ‘lower’ animals of a given species does a ‘fratricide’ (literally killing of a brother) occur. There may be combat over mates and territories, but the fighting ends in submission, not annihilation.” Having had but a minor insight into our past and the occurrences that constituted a gross violation of human rights, we need not be facing or condoning such acts of aggression. Violence more often than not begets violence.




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  1. Haha! It could, as well, have been written by him, so many people had the same thoughts, and I am…

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