The wagalla massacre.The killings of 10th Feb 1984.

The day the govt forces killed over 5,000 Kenyans.

Who was involved? How did they carry out this heinous acts? Were they prosecuted?

Will the people of Degodia clan forgive the govt? Keep following to know


Wagalla town is located in wajir which is in Northern Kenya. Northern Kenya is what was formerly known as the Northern Frontier District (NFP).

At first the colonialists called northern Kenya their protectorate then later a colony.
Much later it became a buffer zone between Kenya and somalia. It was during this time that it was given the operative term "Northern frontier district". Later in the years, legislations were passed by the Parliament to control and isolate NFD further.
In 1902, movement in and out of NFD was restricted and in 1932,the British bestowed the NFD administrators with extensive powers to arrest,restraint and detention. Finally, collective punishment of tribes and clans was legalised in NFD.
By 1963, Kenya was practically divided into two. That is the north and the south (the people in the north called the south, down Kenya--- to them, they were not part of Kenya)

In the 1980s, conflicts and fights between the Degodia and Ajuran clans rocked wajir.
In one incident, the Degodia clan attacked the Ajuran clan killing one man and five women.The ajuran started blaming the Moi govt for failing to protect them as if they were not Kenyan citizens.

As a result,the govt demanded that both clans should surrender all their weapons.
When the Degodia clan surrendered just 8 guns, the govt decided to mount an operation that would see the Degodians disarmed.

The stage had long been set for what followed next.

A bloodbath, loss of lives and property, psychological torture and life time scars followed.
To understand the anatomy of the wagalla massacre, I will divide the operation in days. Each day will carry the activities that were conducted by our forces.
Day One (Friday, 10th Feb 1984::: the time is 5:00am EAT)

Before day break, the soldiers arrived at Wagalla village in wajir town. There was no time to knock at the doors. They started breaking into each house in the village, searching for every male human species.
The soldiers who were in army trucks, started beating men and throwing them in the trucks ready for transportation.

Whenever they found a man, the only question they asked was your clan. A mention of Degodia clan was a direct ticket to beatings and being bundled in the truck.
The operation to round up all Degodia men was carried out from that morning all the way to around 1pm. Every lorry that was full transported the men to the wagalla airstrip. By afternoon, the airstrip was full with over 5,000 men. At the airstrip, more beatings awaited them.
In the afternoon, police officers from garissa started addressing the men at the airstrip and told them that they were all suspected to be having guns. And that they were expected to cooperate and surrender their guns.
When the military officers arrived at the airstrip, normalcy and peace was suspended. They started beating up the men and continued doing so for over 2 hours.
By 2pm when the sun was scorching the ground, the army through their commanding officer major Mudogo commanded the men to strip naked and lie down on their stomachs at the hot murram.
When the burning sun became unbearable, one boy who was a camel herder tried to run. The boy who was later known to be Ishmael became the first casualty. He was shot and one of the soldiers laughed saying that the hyenas have had their first meal of the many to come.
Back in the village,after all men were rounded up & taken to the wagalla airstrip,the soldiers left behind started threatening women. What followed later was massive heinous acts meted on those women by the soldiers.

Many were raped,from young girls as 8 years to pregnant women.
As some of the soldiers were busy raping innocent Degodia women, others started burning the houses. Between 2pm and 3pm over 100 houses were up in the flames. It was reported that more than 15 children were burnt alive in the burning houses.
Back to the raping soldiers, the soldiers by the time evening was clocking they had raped more than 500 women. Some of those who were willing to talk includes the likes of Abdiya Abei,Sekawa samwai,mariansha Abdilahi,Abdia Warmoge among hundreds of others.
Any woman who resisted rape was either stabbed or shot to death. Others were broken their legs so that they could not move or resist and then they were gang raped by the soldiers. One woman by the name Zainab Hussein who was 8 months pregnant was gang raped until she miscarried.
Others like Abdia Warmoge who we named earlier would be left with life time scars. Abdia was a business lady at wagalla when the operation was being carried out. When the soldiers got to her they took all the money she had and one of the soldiers was left behind to rape her.
Out the pain she felt she tried to bite the soldiers who was raping her, the soldier hit her so hard with the gun that all her front teeth were knocked out. Out of the pain she felt when her teeth were knocked out, she tightly grabbed the soldier.
In retaliation, the soldier used his gun and hit her for the second time but this time aiming at her eye. The land on the eye was so big that one of her eye literary fell off instantly.

(Photo of Abdia Warmoge and her gouged off eye)
DAY TWO (11th Feb 1984---- the day is on Saturday)

Back at the airstrip, the men were still lying on their stomachs and by now they had eaten nothing for the last 24 hours. There was no water or food despite them being paraded under that scorching sun.
The soldiers on the other hand were enjoying themselves with cold drinks that were brought to them using the cooler boxes and their usual canned food.
Some of the men who were lying on that hot murram decided to take an break by faking an excuse that they had guns and they were willing to give them out to the soldiers. The men knew they had nothing but they just needed find an excuse that will free them from that sun.
The two men were Garat Senay Asman & Kanyere Mohammed Yusuf.The inspector who was at the airstrip drove them to village to get the guns but little did he know there were no guns.On reaching the village Garat attempted to throw himself in the well to at least get a drop of water.
The men were so desperate to cool their bodies and take some water that they were willing to drown and die while attempting to get water.

On realising the men had played him the inspector gave them a life time beating and threw them in the land rover back to the airstrip.
At the district administration offices, the acting district officer Mr Tiema was arguing that the Degodia men rounded up at the airstrip needed water and food. Bit the soldiers were not willing to feed the men who by now had gone for over 36 hours without food and water.
Mr Tiema together with Chief Bishar Ismael Ibrahim who was a chief located at wagalla decided to defy the soldiers stands and went to wajir town and picked a govt water boozer that was under the ministry of education. The boozer which was registered as GK 134E was used by Tiema.
Tiema would instruct the boozer to be filled with water and then provided extra food and told sergeant Ahmed wario (the late) to go and give them this the men at wagalla airstrip.
On reaching the airstrip, the soldiers took the water boozer and drove it to a far corner of the airstrip. They opened it taps and left the water running. This was done intentionally in preparation for what they knew was to come.
The men who had stayed for over 40 hours without food and water under that sun, on seeing the running water they run toward the water boozer and everyone wanted a taste. The over 5,000 men all aiming at one tap. What followed was a stamped that left over 300 men dead at the tap.
One thing to note, not every soldier at the wagalla airstrip was a rogue and bad soldier. Some of them were good and had humanity in them only that they could not defy the orders of their seniors.
For instance, one of the Degodia men at the airstrip, claimed during the interview that he was kept alive by the actions of one of the soldiers. He says that the soldier would time in time keep coming to him and give him water to drink using his military water bottle.

Day 3 next
DAY 3 (Sunday, 12th Feb 1984)

On the third day, one the Degodia men called Ali hassan Noor led the others into singing the Kenyan National anthem. Ali Hassan is the man who previously we said was fed with water by one of the military officers. The men started singing loudly.
As they sang the national anthem, some of the men decided to run away, perhaps motivated by the national anthem they decided to run and save their lives. Instead of stopping the men, the soldiers started spraying bullets to them indiscriminately.
According to eye witness reports and what they told the TJRC commission, the shooting alone left hundreds of hundreds dead.

It is reported that on the third day, it was when the largest number of people were killed at the wagalla airstrip.
Who were the people who were highly mentioned as the perpetrators of the wagalla massacre? Their names are in the TJRC commission report but until today they have never been tried in a court of law to answer question to what UN termed as the greatest violation of human rights.
Some of the people in connection to wagalla massacre includes
1. Benson Kaaria who was the then NFD PC
2. Francis Muhindi who was the military battalion commander
3. The late David Mwiraria
4. Amb Bethwel Kiplagat
5. Daniel arap Moi

Among many others.
They say mgala muue na haki umpe... In this case, they killed the Degodia men at Wagalla but until today, justice has never been given to those people who were tortured and killed at the wagalla airstrip. Its been over 30 years but the govt is yet to deliver justice.
The most unfortunate thing is that the person who was largely involved and mentioned by the people as the perpetrator was the TJRC chairman, that is Amb Bethwel Kiplagat. It was the case of a hyena presiding over a case he is accused of eating a goat.
In the TJRC report, the govt was requested first to offer public apology to the Degodia people and then compensate the people. But until today, even the apology itself has turned to be a hard one to the govt.
Its been 7 years since the report was handed over to president Uhuru Kenyatta at his harambee house office. But the big question is, will his govt do what was recommended in the report? My answer to you is NO.
And why is it a NO? Its because most of the serving politicians are largely mentioned in the TJRC report and it incriminates them to serious scandals that can lead them to imprisonment. The person to implement TJRC is yet to join the govt. Maybe in 30 years to come.

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