Independent reporting on human rights, environmental and conflict issues

Rift Valley Purges

A young man runs with a suitcase from burning houses in Nakuru. © Anne Holmes

I haven’t been able to post for the last few days as I have been in the Rift Valley and internet towers were down in Nakuru, and there was no connection to be had in Naivasha either. Violence erupted Thursday in Nakuru and has spread east to Naivasha and seems to be heading further on to Nairobi. There are accounts of groups of people moving east across the country toward the capital, instigateing organized ethnic cleansing. In Nakuru, countless died and were injured in clashes between the Kikuyus and Luos and Kalengins. A new displaced persons camp was opened in the stadium for a group of Luos fleeing violence by the Mungiki sect. Saturday afternoon nearly a thousand men, women and children were taken by the red cross to hide in the stadium after the Mungiki sect murdered 6 people the night before. Police presence was heavy after the first day of fighting and things cooled down dramatically on Monday when people could be seen returning to work and shops opening up for business again. The hospital on Friday evening, however, was a horror scene, with over 60 wounded mostly by machete, stoning and arrows.

Naivasha, a Kikuyu stronhold, was extremely difficult to manage and virtually impossible to photograph after Sunday’s epic violent clashes wherein Kikuyus killed and wounded an unkown number of Luos, and sent those remaining running for their lives with their belongings in their hands the next day. The security situation has prevented the press and aid agencies from ascertaining the magnitude of the death and injury count, and gangs continued to gather in the city center, setting up road blocks, and looting. This morning when I left, there were many houses set aflame. For the last three days, the Lake Naivasha Country Club hotel’s front lawn has been a refugee camp for a group of Luo families who have not eaten anything since they arrived. In the meantime, out front, a large gang of Kikuyus gathers around the clock with makeshift weapons, aiming to kill those Luos hiding inside. It was terrifying to see such a thing and recalls harrowingly the scenes in the movie Hotel Rwanda.

Late last night I started to receive messages that leaflets had been dropped in the estates along the road from Naivasha to Nairobi, ordering all non-Kikuyus to leave immediately. Sometime around 4 in the morning and ODM MP was assassinated in his home in Nairobi. The situation is not looking good.

Below is a collection of pictures from the last few days in the rift valley.

Kalengin warriors prepare for battle in Nakuru. ©Anne Holmes

Kikuyus whose houses are being burned pack their belongings to seek refuge elsewhere. © Anne Holmes

A house burns in the Nakuru slum of Idima. © Anne Holmes

Police move into a crowd of Luos and Kalengins. © Anne Holmes

Residents of Nakuru’s slum Idima gather around the body of a young Luo man shot dead by police. © Anne Holmes

Police detain a group of young men who had blocked the road in Nakuru. © Anne Holmes

Luo residents of Nakuru’s Free Area load people and belongings into a Red Cross truck to be evacuated. © Anne Holmes

Police come to collect a Kikuyu hacked to death by machete. © Anne Holmes

A woman who brought her child to hospital in Naivasha to be treated for malnourishment. The boy was not able to eat for two weeks due to being trapped by clashes. © Anne Holmes

A Luo man, victim of ethnic violence in Naivasha. © Anne Holmes

Kikuyus in downtown Naivasha gather for the arrival of Kenya’s Minister of Security. © Anne Holmes


11 Responses to “Rift Valley Purges”

  1. Lee says:

    Ahaa, its fastidious dialogue concerning this post at this place at
    this website, I have read all that, so now me also commenting here.

  2. Eric says:


    There are varying schools of thought on your subject. I happen to agree with you – most of the time. Keep it up.

  3. Hello Vigilante Journalist,

    I am reading your posts and sharing your news with others. I’m a journalist also, and was in Nairobi in mid Jan. Since then trying to raise US awareness and put pressure on State Dept to take firmer action, etc.. working to publicize work of diff Kenyan civil society groups who are mobilizing. I am helping to put together a special issue of a US magazine, World Pulse, that I work with, on the Kenya crisis. Will include video I did in Nairobi with Ann Njogu, at Nairobi Women’s Hospital, etc.. and with Kenyans United In Peace for Truth and Justice.. Sailjah Patel..

    Wanted to ask, on a late Sat night, if I might have permission from you to publish some of the photos in your blog, giving you credit, and including the link of your blog, in a sort of mini slide show that can help illustrate the talking head interviews I did with the Kenyans I mentoined above? I will post the interviews on You Tube, on the World Pulse channel, and have the links in the e-magazine that goes out next week. Please let me know as soon as possible. you can email me too, at Thank you. Anne-christine d’Adesky, Journalist, AIDS advocate, author “Moving Mountains: The Race to Treat Global AIDS” (Verso,2006).

    415-690-6199 if you want to try to sms a reply.

    Good luck and stay as safe as you can. Continued courage– AC

  4. Rick says:

    As someone who grew up in Kenya – many years ago now – it is indeed sad to see the violence.
    Kikuyu, Luyha, Luo, Kalenjin and apparently now Kamba being dragged in. Atrocity, reprisal,
    counter-reprisal, so it goes.

    Kenyan independence, and its comparative success since then, were achieved by the major
    tribes working together, but nobody today seems capable of reminding the mobs of that.

    It sounds like the police can be criticised, but their position is not so easy either –
    they’re all individuals from one tribe or another. Maybe an external intervention force
    with no intra-Kenyan tribal ties will be the only solution; the current leadership is not
    giving me any confidence.

    A big thanks to the journos who are taking risks to get these photos and stories; it’s
    this sort of output that’s most likely to lead to action.

  5. Sura Mbaya says:

    Your pictures are absolutely shocking but they prove beyond doubt that the people of Kenya are suffering. This is a rather stupid request but pleas indulge me – in quite a number of the photos I have read captions describing the dead victims as having been shot by the police. If there was a way to actually capture the bullet wounds, this would help indict the police and by extension the government, whose blatant denials have now become legendary. In the near future, it will be necessary that photos of police extra-judicial killings be available as evidence.

    I am just a concerned citizen that has is shocked and numbed by the callousness with which the police treat human lives.

  6. someone watching says:

    Is it possible to post some of the peaceful demonstration that happened today among women at freedom corner or that is not so gruesome to show the world the broken Kenya? I wish someone would be highlighting some positives that are happening in Kenya even among bloggers like Afromusing!

  7. Thanks for your honest reporting…wish we could have more of this from our local journalists if they could operate without constraints. I’d like to discuss Ushahidi (www.ushahidi.com0 with you – please drop a line when you can, we can use all the help on the ground that we can get.

  8. Ryan says:

    I also found this blog after getting fed up with the media’s near-blackout of real journalism from Afghanistan, and am happy to see this unerring voice of truth move onto Kenya. Keep up the good work. Because of people like you, willing to put it all on the line, the people are able to know what’s going on from an unbiased view. Thank you so much, and keep safe.

  9. cactus says:

    PS Vigilante – could you tell me where the photos of the Kikuyu packing their belonging were taken?

  10. cactus says:

    Thanks for the posts. It looks like the situation has crossed the line of no return. It is painful to see pictures of Kenyans who have been killed by their neighbours when only weeks ago they were friends. I am also depressed by the fact ordinary Kenyans are fighting what is essentially an inter-elite battle. Where will it end? Sad, sad, sad! May I use some of your photos Vigilante Journalist?

  11. Gavin says:

    I have just stumbled across this blog while searching for a clear account of events in Kenya (my brother and his family live in Nairobi). Many thanks for such clear, honest, professional journalism.
    Gavin – London

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