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There Are Still Angels
Judith Ngoya, Friends Pastor and Friends United Meeting Administrator, Kenya
From Ending Cycles of Violence, pp 6-7.

It is important to remember than in the midst of horrendous violence there are always those who are “angels” as this story says. During the violence in Kisumu, Kikuyu, but not Luhya, were being targeted for the violence because they were members of the antagonistic tribe that the local people believed had stolen the 2007 election.

Things seemed okay [in Kisumu], so I went to the office. At 1:30 pm I heard a lot of noise, people running, fire, tear gas. The news was that the Member of Parliament from Eldoret had been killed. I tried to leave, but the soldier at the lift stopped me. I told him I was a Luhya from Kitale. He told me to go with my ID only, no purse, not even money. I put my phone, money, and ID in a small paper bag and went out of the gate.

Two men were standing in the veranda and told me, ‘Come here. What tribe are you? Where are you going? Are you sure you are Luhya?’ I convinced them and went on. At the Nakumat shop the police were all staring at me.

I called my friend and she said to wait for her and we would go together. She and her husband came and we went up the street. Some women were saying, ‘Kikuyu here.’ Some police told us to carry leaves, so we got some leaves, a sign of peace.

But then we saw some young men who said in Luo, ‘We are not at peace. Drop the leaves and pick up stones.’ I dropped the leaves, but didn’t pick up any stones.

As we walked, people were calling, ‘Wambui, Kibaki,’ describing me as a Kikuyu to the people up ahead. There was a crowd, tear gas, stones being thrown toward the police.

Suddenly I was surrounded by young men and I was alone. I heard shouts, asking in Luo what my tribe was. Then I saw the young man next to me lift his panga [machete] and I knew I was dead. I closed my eyes, but held my head high. I shouted in English, ‘Oh God, I’m dead!’ I heard my friend say, ‘Oh, Reverend!’ (She calls me “Reverend”)

Then someone took hold of my arm and said, ‘What are you doing? She is not Kikuyu. She is Luhya.’

I didn’t know that man. He was my angel who saved my life. He said to me, ‘Follow me. If you go straight you will not reach the junction.’ He pulled me, like a baby, to a house. The man there said, ‘Why are you bringing this Kikuyu to my house? Do you want my house to be burned?’

My angel told him I was not Kikuyu, but Luhya. The man asked me to speak my language, but fear kept me from answering immediately. He kept asking me questions, “What is the tribe of your father? What is the tribe of your mother?’I knew the answers. My mother and father are both Bukusu /Luhya from Bungoma. But the words wouldn’t come out, so he said, ‘See, she hesitates. She has only learned the Luhya language.’

My friends had followed me to this house, too. The man gave us some sweet potatoes and some water. I tried to eat a little, but couldn’t. Then he said, ‘I am not comfortable. People saw her come in here, but I will show you a shortcut where you can go safely.’ We used small roads and, thank God, I reached my house alive.

I did not know that man and I still don’t know the house. Every time I go that route I am reminded and I look, but I cannot recognize anything. I have never seen that man again, my angel who saved me.”