Where hate searches for love

Between Lodwar and Kapenguria lies tales of cattle banditry

In Summary

• Drought has compounded the insecurity ravaging parts of Northwestern

There is a compound out there in northern Kenya. It is quite circular in shape. However, more circular is the enclosure at its centre. The enclosure appears today like a circular base of the beaming rays of the moon. The recent shape of the moon this week of Valentine's is circular. It is a full moon.

The enclosure has a perfect shape but ragged are its edges. The material with which the enclosure is forged is not smooth. It is a mishmash of both twigs of wild thorny bushes and branches of aged acacia. Only the mouth of the enclosure is smooth. It is.

The mouth of the enclosure is smooth because it is safe. Allegedly, it is so. The edges of the circular enclosure rough are because they are more useful as such. They are meant to keep the treasure of the compound safe. They are meant to keep at bay those who attempt to seize it.

At the centre of the safe space in the heart of the compound are former living beings. They are beings that know better days of yore. Once, ago, they did make noise, not silence. They would do so with their mouth as they chew cud of the day. They would do so with the swish of their strong tails as they kept fireflies at bay and sprayed the compound with flatulence of satiety.

These were not the times of satisfaction. Gone now is the cud noise that kept home owners awake like a tune of the night so eternal. Gone is the scent of fart from fat cattle. The air of the night now reeks with the sweet smell of strange plants. Those plants grow in seasons of drought only. They do so, where carcasses and corpses fed into the soil in slow-motion decay.


There is this compound somewhere towards the north of our motherland. A compound whose last inhabitants stared at two things at the same time, it is. They measured the sailing of the full moon on the black ocean above with prayers from rosaries stained with old age. They kept their bony fingers at it for hours upon hours until death arrived as cattle bandits. Here.

They kept the unspoken words of their empty bellies unpronounced. They retained those words at places in their mouth where saliva is either stale or dried up completely. They retained their last word here on earth, in Kenya. Forever. Here.

In this newly dead compound of beasts and humans, neither the sound of an infant mocking a tit nor that of a calf mooing out the pain of constipation is heard. The ding’uing’ui beetles that find pleasure by the wooden windows near fiery hearths of the female huts are gone. Their echoes are silent already. All is quite quiet here, where once love lived between beasts and victims.


To be honest, this enclosure at the heart of the family is one that is not new. It has stood here for three calvings now. It has known the sludge of dung formed from strong bowels. It has known the seething miasma of this green sludge under the hard hooves of a hundred cattle. It has supported nearest to the fence, a circular bush of wild vegetables. It has.

Sadly, now there are several things happening this Valentine's weekend in this nomadic enclosure, in this heart of a forgotten Kenya up north.

The last of the spotty hyenas of the region has found this place. It has opted to hive it as its last stand on earth. It has opted to breathe its last from lungs collapsed by hunger here. It will take dreams of the scent of death with it. To the land where hyenas go after Kenya fails them as a place of food, that is.

A young ant that has been searching for an opening from the world beneath our feet, finally succeeded. At the place where the gate of the cattle boma once stood, now stands nothing. The tree columns that marked the gate have died with the termites already. The hole to the left where stood a strong gate, is an awning crack on the dry cake of the earth. Here is where the ant now finally exits the underworld. What it is sees is this:

Next to the biggest manyatta are two skeletons eyeing each other with skull eyes. The tinier of the two still has a bullet hole at the back of the skull. It resembles a solo eye looking in the direction where death came from. The ragged hills of Kainuk make a perfect circle around this valley. The ant is not a fool. It does not leave the edge of its hole.

To the place where the lone hyena is dying, an army of bones form a cattle cemetery that surrounds the old scavenger. There is no way on earth words can describe how the scene looks exactly. Try to do this. Imagine being the ant and find the words to describe the death of that which eats those that dead are, or dying?


Suddenly, the heavy canopy of silence of this hilly outback explodes again. The massive chatter of AK 47s split the skies of the night. KAAAinnnnnuk! Between Lodwar and Kapenguria is where hate travels in search of love. Kainuk.

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