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Category Archives: Badassery

7 Most Badass Soldiers in the East Africa Campaigns


This list doesn’t include any East Africans, just men who fought in East Africa during the World Wars. Isn’t there anyone in this region who was blessed with balls of wrought iron? 

#7 Fragetten Kapitan Max Looff

 Warhistory.com


Warhistory.com

There are two shipwrecks in the Rufiji River Delta in Tanzania. One is that of the Konigsberg while the other is that of its fuelling collier, the Somali. The Germans lost the two ships during the heat of World War I to a fleet of Royal Navy vessels. That’s the boring part of the story.

Fragetten Kapitan Max Looff, who had the most obnoxious surname ever, commanded the ship on several successful raids on British ships. When the light cruiser suffered engine failure, he steered it up the Rufiji Delta from where the damaged parts were transported via land to Dar es Salaam.

He managed to hide the ship for five weeks by camouflaging it and moving it to the upper reaches of the Delta. When it was finally discovered, the British blockaded the delta and began to launch attacks on the ship. The first attacks, using shitty seaplanes and tiny bombs, failed; the Royal Navy ships were too big to go close enough to the ship to make direct hits.

When his ship was finally hit in July 1915, Looff sent a signal to Berlin ‘Konigsberg is destroyed but not conquered.’ But that wasn’t the most poignant written communication Loof ever sent.

On New Year’s Eve the previous year, the Royal Navy Ship HMS Fox sent Loof this message: WE WISH YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR AND HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON.

Looff, as aloof as a man with a name like that can be, replied: THANKS, SAME TO YOU, IF YOU WISH TO SEE ME, I AM ALWAYS HOME.” If that is not an invitation for a proper ass whoopin’ then I have been watching the wrong action movies. Loof managed to hold on until July that year and though they sank his ship in the end, they never caught him.

The Kognisberg wreck

The Kognisberg wreck

#5 Colonel Von Lettow-Vorbeck Tells Hitler to Fuck Off

He also win the prize hat editthis.info.com

He also win the prize hat
editthis.info.com

Whoever says badassery cannot be induced by naming your kids something badass is lying. Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck, other than having a mouthful of a badass name, is recognized as the most badass German General to lead a military force during World War I. Free Advice: Call your child Lettow-Vorbeck and watch him become the king of recess. Please don’t quote me if he doesn’t.

When the war started, Lettow-Vorbeck was leading a small garrison of just a little over five thousand soldiers. He used the Konigsberg’s guns-after Loof’s ship was damaged-to shell the Allies in the East African land campaign. One of his victories was so embarrassing to the British that they kept it secret until 1966. He proved to be a hard man to pin down, employing the guerrilla warfare strategy, and managing to keep his troops motivated for four years.

 Two days after Germany lost the war, Vorbeck was still busy fighting –and winning territory-in the Congo. He did not even know that his side had lost the war until Hector Croad, a British Magistrate, brought him a letter informing him of the armistice.

He surrendered his undefeated army of about 1, 500 soldiers, and 3, 500 porters in Zambia on 25 November, a whole week and a half after Berlin had fallen. Vorbeck and the man he had been fighting for more than two years, General JC Smuts met in 1929 and became lifelong friends.

 Smuts organized a pension for Vorbeck from the same guys he had been shooting at and trying to kill him for four years. He needed the assistance because he had made terrible political decisions, one of them being more badass than anything he ever did in war.

In 1935, he declined a diplomatic position from Hitler by telling the mustachioed dictator to ‘Go fuck himself.’ Seriously. This was Hitler, the man who would enter the annals of history as a villain extraordinaire, and a mere man, a former soldier nonetheless, was telling him, in no less words, to shove it in his own fundamentals. If you were Hitler, you would kill Vorbeck wouldn’t you? But Vorbeck lived until 1963, almost three decades longer than the Furher. If having titanium ball doesn’t kill you, only old age can. Unless you are Nigel Gray Leakey…

#5 Nigel Gray Leakey; ‘I’ll Get them on Foot!”

You can't even get a photo of the man.  www.wikipedia.com

You can’t even get a photo of the man.
http://www.wikipedia.com

You don’t know Nigel Leakey, of course not. He is one of the many famous Leakeys and his story tends to fade in the famous family name. May 19 1941; Sergeant Leakey is stationed in the Ethiopian front when the Allied forces encounter strong Italian opposition.

Tired of just shooting around like a fool, and perhaps too eager to get home, Leakey jumped on top of an enemy tank, opened the turret, and killed everyone inside except the driver. Unless you know how to drive or fly the thing you are stealing, never kill the driver/pilot. It’s counterproductive. Leakey knew that, now you do too. Use this information wisely.

He forced the driver to steer the tank to cover from where he tried to fire the canons at the Italians. This failed and he dismounted, yelling to his disbelieving fellow soldiers ‘I’ll get them on foot.” Because badassery doesn’t need a tank, badassery is its own war machine.

He tried the stunt again, this time with three African soldiers. As a fleet of enemy tanks passed, he jumped on the third one and opened the turret. He only managed to shoot one person inside before the fourth tank shot him right off the tank. Italians were having none of his shit this time round. But they lost, and part of the credit for that victory is given to Sergeant Leakey. He was posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy among Commonwealth countries. It is only awarded to soldiers with titanium balls, and Nigel had grown his while growing up in Kiganjo.

#4 Private Seidu Issalia

This is exactly what it looks like.

This is exactly what it looks like.

If you think you know badassery but you do not know Private Seidu Issalia’s act of utter stupidity and bravery, then you need to suspend that until you are done reading this entry.

If you Google ‘Private Seidu Issalia’ one of the curious finds you will get is a Dictionary entry for ‘Definition of Groin’ because that’s Issalia’s most badass part. His fundamentals. No, he didn’t kill anyone with his wand, not that we know of anyway. Maybe the titanium alloy prosthetic he got did.

On January 4 1941, Private Issalia, a member of the Gold Coast Regiment fighting in the East African campaign, was sent as a runner by his platoon commander. He was shot through the groin; please take a moment to internalize that, on his way to HQ. As the sniper giggled at his villainous hit, Issalia refused to die.

He crawled, with a bullet in his groin, to command headquarters and did his duty. Badass, no? Now you like a coward for that time you cried when someone kicked you in the groins, right? Private Issalia is just about to multiply that…

He delivered his message and then crawled back, still with a bullet in his fundamentals, back to his platoon commander to confirm delivery of the message. He was one of the few African soldiers who were ever awarded for bravery during the campaign. There is no information as to whether he was reincarnated as the African Robocop with titanium balls and a diamond wand but if there is ever an alien attack, this is one the guys we should consider.

#3 Sergeant-Major Belo Akure

Nigerian Infantry in Tanzania  www.kaiserscross.com

Nigerian Infantry in Tanzania
http://www.kaiserscross.com

The story of West African troops who fought in the East African Campaign has generally been downplayed and hardly registers a mention in Kenyan history books. Yet when you look at the number of military medals the Brigades amassed you can tell there are numerous stories of badassery and unfulfilled death wishes hidden there. One of them is that of Sergeant-Major Belo Akure.

When an experienced officer, a British one during a time of blatant racial stratification no less, writes of you ‘I have never seen a braver man’ then you must be at the highest attainable level of badassery.

By the end of the war he had amassed three medals: the coveted Military Medal, a clasp, and the Distinguished Conduct in the field medal. The first medal was for a time when he saved eight of his colleagues from sure death. As they retreated from a tactical mistake, the company came under fire. Since they could not all fit in the canoe, Akure was left behind, lying down on the riverbank returning to god-knows-how-many German shooters. He was hit in the sleeve and died. Actually no he wasn’t.

He continued shooting until his company got on the other side, and then he swam across to safety.

In East Africa, Belo captured a middle-level German Officer ‘in spite of a spirited rescue effort’ by the German forces. Here’s how it was described “He left his place of safety and went out to the German who was lying on the ground. History does not relate what he said to the wretched man, but badly wounded as he was, he (the German) got up and followed the sergeant-major to a place of safety.” He probably just told him his name. 

#2 Eric Charles Twelves Wilson

Now you know where Van Damme got the concept for the split...

Now you know where Van Damme got the concept for the split…

Wilson revenged for being given the weirdest set of names by showing such conspicuous gallantry in Somaliland that no one thought he had survived. But he had.

It all began when Italian forces attacked a machine-gun post aptly called Observation Hill. Captain Wilson, in charge of a badass team of Somali gunners, led a successful counter-attack and started helping another nearby post beat off the attackers.

He was so successful that the Italians switched their energies to finishing him off completely. They scored two direct hits on his defenses, one of which wounded Captain Wilson in the right shoulder and the left eye, and shattered his spectacles. His guns were blown off their stand but he repaired them and replaced them, with a useless eye and a useless hand, and promptly went back to the fight. From August 12 to August 14, he manned his guns with one hand and one weak eye, the wounds unattended. He contracted malaria on the 13th, because the Grim Reaper was running out of ideas.

 He kept the post in action until 5pm 15 August, his wounds unattended, and his malaria untreated, when the post was finally overran, and he was killed. At least that is how the original gazette notice for his VC reads.

Wilson actually survived the slaughter and wandered off until the Italians captured him. They took him to hospital and then spirited him off to a POW camp in Eritrea where he first learnt of his posthumous VC months later.

When the camp was overrun by the British, Wilson was rescued and given the VC he had been awarded when everyone thought he was dead. He was then deployed to Burma where he was struck by scrub typhus. He was then moved to an infantry-training center in Uganda. The Grim Reaper quit after this and just let old age do its magic.

#1 Premindra Singh Bhagat

Is that a smack, Singh?

Is that a smack, Singh?

The most badass man on this list is Premindra Singh Bhagat! That his exploits did not kill him means death respected him enough to let his nongiveafuckery prolong his life. Here’s what Singh Bhagat did.

Over the course of his training, his company commander frequently complained about Bhagat’s ‘high opinion of himself.” When he was leaving the training camp, his company commander, MacLaughin, said “That chap. He’s off to the wars. You mark my words. He will either get shot or get a VC.” He did the latter.

He was deployed to Sudan where his acts of total-complete-one-hundred-percent-nongiveafuckery happened. On 6 November 1940, Bhagat’s company was tasked with road denial, a sabotage strategy by a retreating army to slow down the pursuing army. They rigged up two derelict tanks with explosives and then jammed them into a culvert. When the charges were fired, one jammed and the culvert held. Well, until Prem dashed from cover and into the tank, under a hail of bullets. He adjusted the charges and then ran back out. The tank exploded. Badass, no? Men like Bhagat are never satisfied with such pussy acts as simply running into a tank filled with explosives.

In January 1942, Bhagat was commanding a column of Royal Frontier Force Rifles during the Battle of Keren. As part of the recce party, Bhagat and his men had to drive out in front of the platoons. The road was heavily mined and the carrier he was in blew up. Everyone escaped unhurt, but Bhagat was not having that kind of uncertainty again. As the column progressed, the carrier drove over another mine and the driver and the sapper died.

Bhagat, after flipping at the Grim Reaper, promptly moved to another carrier and this is where the shit goes from badass to “is this man even human?” Every time the column encountered a mine, Bhagat would alight from the carrier and defuse the mine with his bare hands. For four days!

 For four long days, this man worked with no rest or food, like a mine-defusing, death defying, Grim-Reaper-Immune machine. His carrier was blown up a third time on February 2 and Prem’s eardrums, tired of being part of a man with no value for his life, simply punctured.

For a whole day, this guy refused to be pulled away from the war front, arguing with his company commander that he was the most experienced among all mine-defusers. He probably couldn’t hear what his senior was saying so it’s possible he let his exploits speak for him.

After working almost non-stop for 96 hours, clearing 15 mine fields over 55 miles and with blood oozing from his ears, Bhagat accepted to be evacuated. He was awarded the VC for “the longest recorded feat of sheer cold courage.”

—– Richhpal Ram

Shove over Looff, Ram takes the prize for head gear!

Shove over Looff, Ram takes the prize for head gear!

Now, there are badass men who don’t care much for their lives and then there’s Ricchpal Ram. When a guy’s second name is a verb that implies force and violence, you know he is the real deal.

Ram was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for, as the highest award among Commonwealth Forces is described ‘gallantry in the face of the enemy.’

According to this Gazette notice, Ram and his 6th Rajputana Rifles were fighting in Eritrea when this happened “…his personal example inspired his company with his resolute spirit until his right foot was blown off. He then suffered further wounds from which he later died. While lying wounded, he continued to wave his men on, and his final words were “We’ll capture the objective.”

Owaahh © 2013

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3 Comments

Posted by on December 12, 2013 in Badassery, Lists, Pages from the Past

 

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7 Ballsiest Hoaxes Ever Pulled by Kenyans


 I’ve only been conned once. By an old man. An old senile man. Not 60s old, older, that guy was really really old. By the time I realized I was the sucker in the transaction, he was probably on his deathbed, dying of natural causes. I was KES 2500 poorer, carrying a shredded ego and for some odd reason, finding it funny and embarrassing at the same time. Although the relic didn’t get a lot of money, the pang of my gullibility lasted for months, probably longer than him.

But when that old man was younger (or still old, but not as old), Kenyans fell for many hoaxes. To their defense, it was the Age BG-Before Google. Still, even in the Google Age, we are still made of suckers and gullibility. Suspect Everyone.

This is a sequel to this previous list.

#7 The Facebook Phishing/MPESA hoax

One of the most ingenious hoaxes/financial cons in recent years, this one takes the cake for how fool proof it can be if you are not skeptical.
It works rather simply; a Facebook friend starts a random conversation, he or she then asks you to send money to someone for them-always KES 5, 000, repayable the next day as KES 8, 000/7, 000-because they are in a fix. The appeal for first, friendship, and second, greed, is the very ingenuity of this hoax. You have friends and you are greedy because you are a human being like the rest of us. 

MPESA

The phishing component is often the first phase. You receive a random link to vote for someone or something of the sought that takes you to a dummy Facebook page where you need to enter your email address and password again to access. A day or so later, you can’t access your profile, and suddenly your Facebook friends are calling you asking you whether your friend got the money. You try to change your password, but nein! The fraudsters add an extra password recovery email address to your profile and it’s a game of cat-and-mouse between the two of you, battling for control.

The name of the MPESA is always something common, like Tracy Kamau, Stacy Kamau, Janet Kamau. You will never get your money back.

#6 The Medical Adverts

There was always a sense in the Kenyan ‘spirit’ of Harambee that skirted the thin line between altruism and survivor guilt. Pure concern for others, it would emerge in later years when the ‘spirit’ was banned, is easy to exploit especially in a country used to throwing money at problems. Every disaster or accident is immediately followed by a call to fundraise, and no questions are ever asked about why the system doesn’t work. News reports on almost anything sad, even the death of a cat (hasn’t happened yet but who knows) are followed by  a Pay Bill number for the sad reader to restore some hope to humanity (or its endless greed).

 The medical adverts con is easy, and the epitome happened only two months ago. Two men walked into local dailies and paid for a medical appeal advertisement for a Master Cavlin Wanzila.

It later turned out that Wanzila is not really Wanzila, but Laren Galloway. Galloway has creepy but intriguing blue eyes, most likely caused by a genetic disorder called Waardenburg Syndrome.

Does this picture look familiar? You've been duped.

Does this picture look familiar? You’ve been duped.

Now you know that, but when the photo was published in local dailies in August, not many did and the hoax worked. With a small investment of about KES 50, 000 and remarkable ingenuity, our confidence team of two men and a woman just sat back and watched the monies roll in from gullible well-wishers who seriously wanted to help.

Ruth, the woman in the story, had received at least Shs. 1.7 million by the time the trio was made.

#5 Fred Achieng’, or was he?

By the time the British justice system sentenced this guy to four years imprisonment for fraud and theft, he had left a trail of bruised egos and bad debts. His greatest ruse was that he was the playboy son of Saudi arms dealer Adan Khashoggi, Mohammed Khashoggi.

He used his ‘father’s’ name to win over favors which mostly included free nights in presidential suites at five –star hotels, all over. His ruse even managed to make suckers out of successful businessmen like Allen Sheppard, the proprietor of the Grand Metropolitan Hotel Group in London.

He was a big spender and an astonishingly talented pianist. That latter attribute worked well for him, winning him many nights in five-star hotels. At some point, he was a cabaret artist in a prestigious hotel. At another, he was swindling everyone who had money at the coast. Using his best ruse and at other times claiming he was the son of a Permanent Secretary, Fred (or whatever his real name was) really had a blast in Nairobi, Mombasa and London. The lowly porter with a knack for the keyboard pushed it too far by targeting five-star hotels, but since there was no Google then, it took sometime before his huge bills got him made.

#4 The Miracle Babies

There has only been one true miracle baby and he was crucified on a cross. Or so the story goes. Unless you believe your pregnant daughter too when she swears she was fertilized by nature, and not by a young man you can blast with the shot gun you will buy for just that purpose. But Deya and his wife Eddah Odera had 12 of those, the miracle babies, not the shot guns, between 1999 and 2004.

The man with magic bullets.

The man with magic bullets.

At 56, Eddah was post-menopausal and her body should have shut down that business of churning out babies like a Coca Cola bottling factory sometime in the decade before. But she claimed it hadn’t. The entire system was simply machine-gunning out babies like it was being paid to do so. The Lord, through her husband and prophet, Gilbert Deya, had seen it fit to bring forth a new football team in five years (there are some teams in the EPL that can attest to this never working).

barnes and noble

The ministry’s advert openly solicits “God has blessed us with miracle babies that the world has never seen anything like before. Your donation is very useful to your miracle.”

It was total BS.  DNA tests showed no genetic link between the dozen children and their bewildered post-menopausal mother. No one seems to have thought of claiming that the foreign DNA was God’s. Wait, if we are theists, all DNA should be His, right? Logistics, logistics, you would think Nature or someone would make it easier. No one used the defense that maybe because a deity was simply making sperm out of thin air, maybe the DNA couldn’t match in the first place.

One of the women who was jailed with Deya’s wife, Rose Kiserem, later confessed to the whole thing being a ruse to hide a child-trafficking ring. It was a face-saving confession, and it only came after Deya refused to ‘apologize to her.’ Wait, shouldn’t he be apologizing to all those women who lost their kids?

#3 Kamlesh Pattni

Of course the Brother Paul had to be here. The story of Goldenberg is old, and tired, and Pattni is still rich, but it still needs to be told.

In the early 1990s, the not-so-bright Kenyan government sought to mitigate the economic crisis it had created the decade before by encouraging exports. Local businesses were given an incentive that  included a payback of every $20 for every $100 of products exported. Simple, yes, but there was no system of verifying volume, the entire process relied on the paper trail.

Pattni, young and ambitious, quickly opened a company and started exporting nonexistent gold to get the bonus. There was only one tiny gold mine in Kenya at the time, in Kakamega. The actual gold that was ever exported was first smuggled in Kenya from Congo and then forwarded to get the government bonus. He roped in the suckers and collaborators throughout the system; more later when he was almost caught and instead conviniently started his own bank, Exchange Bank Limited which made his system foolproof. Instead of the usual 20%, Pattni earned 35 percent for his gold and diamonds exports.

Never has this picture been more relevant. Source: LA Times...

Never has this picture been more relevant.
Source: LA Times…

By the end of the mess, Kenya’s public coffers were $600 million short, and through a commission of inquiry and some lethargic prosecutions, Goldenberg would become a tattered rag of a story, and Pattni would become Paul, Brother Paul. Rich and blessed by God, a greedy system, an obnoxious judiciary, and apathetic at-least-he-did-not-steal-from-my-house taxpayers.

#2 The Man who milked an Elephant

Unlike Brother Paul who seems to have emerged from his elephant-milking unscathed save for a bad reputation, Peter Baraza had the injuries but no milk. In a story headlined ‘Meet the man who milked an elephant that appeared in a local daily in 1998, the 21-year old Kenyan farmer claimed that he had milked an elephant as she grazed with her calf. The irate mother, after letting him milk her a bit, then turned on him and gave him a proper ass-whoopin’! But it didn’t smash him or cause very extensive injuries-he had a dislocated shoulder, ‘other internal injuries’ and the shock of surviving with such an awesome story.

Dramatization

Dramatization

So, why didn’t he, like Nyaumbe (the man who bit and beat a python) make it to Badass of the Week. Because it was a hoax. One that everyone, including papers such as LA Times, went ahead and re-published. That article raises a poignant question about the original report that appeared in the Daily Nation, why Baraza, other than the reason that he just felt like doing it, had tried to milk the elephant.

The story was also insensitive to the elephant- it implied that she had only knocked him out when she realized that he was milking her, which was like a minute later (like her boobs are that numb, but who knows).

This is an aside, but does anyone know whether elephants have nipples? If they do, they must be big. Baraza-crushing big. They are probably the ones that knocked him out. What search terms do I even enter into Google for this without looking like am researching for a fete of wildlife intercourse, pun intended?

I am not very sure what is happening here.

I am not very sure what is happening here.

But there was a major problem. The real Peter Baraza from Nyahururu had no injuries and had made no such claim. He, like the rest of us mere mortals, feared elephants for their sheer size and their ability to make a smudge out of our entire lives. Someone had made up the story, and when Baraza was done with Nation Media Group in a defamation case, he was KES 2 million richer. This time, he had milked an elephant for real, just not in the forest.

#1 Eric Awori

This is one of the least known, yet the ballsiest hoax ever pulled off by a Kenyan on Kenyans. Yes, it beats Brother Paul’s daylight robbery. Even Deya’s how-about-we-sign-up-a-whole-team-from-this-uterus ruse.

 In the pre-automatic cars age, and when cars were still the reserve of the government and her owners, Awori decided to play what would turn out to be the most embarrassing con someone, make that entire newsrooms and thus, millions of readers, would ever fall for. Forget the old senile man who made a sucker out of me, forget him and his shaking hands and dying wishes, Awori made a fool out of an entire nation.

Step 1: Sourced from www.blog.espow.com

Step 1:
Sourced from http://www.blog.espow.com

Awori’s con was simple. Sometime n 1985, he made the ballsy claim that he had driven a car in reverse from Mombasa, through Nairobi, to Rongai (the Nakuru one, it’s further than the landlocked country past Lang’ata. You need a Christopher Columbus for this one) and then back to the capital city. Simple, right? Until you re-read the first sentence in this paragraph and notice the words ‘in reverse’!

Parallel parking an automatic car is hard enough as it is (someone said it would can be used to sort out who to sacrifice to the zombies first, I think that can work) but we have a guy here who swore by the gods of Motor oil that he had put his manual shift in reverse and driven about 650km (on bad roads, by the way) without his head getting permanently sore from looking at his driver’s mirror and without a single accident.

There was no mention of a navigator, although that would have been confusing. It’s like when you are trying to direct your wife out the parking lot, and you tell her to turn the wheels to her left, and then she asks whether it is your left or hers, and then you sit and cry? Or one of those times when you have to do the writing motion to remind yourself which one is your right upper limb?

Awori claimed the world record was then held by Gerald Hoagland, and in the celebrity shenanigans that followed the king of reverse in Kenya, he even got a new Toyota Corolla from Westlands Motors. True, a Gerald Hoagland had driven 102 km in reverse “Fortunately for Hoagland and motorists in general, the event took place on a special track.” Because driving in reverse is disorienting and bound to get messy. The girls might cheer you on and cream their pants for you, until you drive right into the bevy of cheerleaders. Men will put pinups of your car’s booty on their walls, and worship you. Awori knew that, he banked on it. 

But he wasn’t done. He announced he was going from the city to Mombasa driving a 7-tonne lorry. In reverse! Clearly, all these reversing was growing the ballsiness of our antagonist here. The even crazier part? Car companies fell for it! The very people who sold such machines fell smack into the con! DT Dobie (you would think, you would think.) donated fuel, and a Mercedes-Benz lorry for Awori to guide with his back-of the head eyes all the way to the Kenyan coast. Car companies, mainstream newspapers (I see you, Daily Nation), and just about everyone else.

They say you should never marry someone until you've watched them drive in reverse. Image from www.getahead.rediff.com

They say you should never marry someone until you’ve watched them drive in reverse.
Image from http://www.getahead.rediff.com

They say you shouldn’t marry someone until you’ve watched them drive in reverse.

Of course he won! …and a ‘John Miller’, a supposed Guinness Book of World Records adjudicator, sent a telegram confirming that Awori had smashed a record. In reverse. He was putting Kenya on the reverse map and local dailies were buying the story like sponges.

Once you win over everyone at home, the next step is New Zealand, right? Awori new that, and according to his telexes, that was his next step, Auckland, for the “620-km Kiwi Auto Reverse Rally. ”He took the hoax too far by ‘winning’ that world championship too far, and before long, his Kenyan assembled bubble burst. When the cops caught up with him after the New Zealand High Commission called BS on the win, all the reversing that Awori had been doing was his swivel chair in an office in Mama Ngina Street as he shuttled between the telex machine and the coffee pot, periodically breaking into maniacal laughs while patting himself on the back. 

People are still setting records for reverse driving, but Awori is not among them

People are still setting records for reverse driving, but Awori is not among them

 No mention on whether he was jailed but if he was, you can be sure someone in prison made him drive. In Reverse. If you catch my drift…

Owaahh©, 2013

 
9 Comments

Posted by on October 27, 2013 in Badassery, Crime, Lists, Pages from the Past, Weird

 

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6 Chilling Survival Stories in Kenyan Aircraft Crashes


Aircraft accidents are the Grim Reaper’s buffet. But sometimes some people just refuse to die, some of them don’t just stare down death in the face and wag a finger at it, they also swim for miles or feed their infants whisky. Wait, what? Sorry Reaper, not today (hiccup).

—-#7  Mr. Bean Saves the Day

(Added 8 September 2013: Thanks to MMK’s comment down there for adding this entry to the list)

Rowan Atkinson, the ‘hilarious’ ageless Mr. Bean once saved himself and his entire family after the pilot blacked out. At 4, 877 meters on a flight from Mombasa to Nairobi, Mr. Bean flew a plane despite having zero experience flying the twin-propeller engine. 

The Cessna 202 chartered plane had four passengers: Atkinson, his wife Sunetra, and their children Ben and Lilly. The pilot fell unconscious about 45 minutes into the flight, forcing the comedian to take the controls as his wife tried the good old method of slapping the KO’d guy into consciousness. It worked.

Where some of us would just soil out pants and pray someone deletes our internet history while telling the wife that we never liked her morning breath anyway, Atkinson took the damn controls. Like a typical man, yanked that think up and down until the plane balanced from its murderous nosedive.

The pilot is thought to have been suffering from dehydration. Once he revived, Atkinson moved from the controls and let the pilot do the professional piloting.

It is unclear whether he immediately went into character at the time and grinned as he saved the day.

#6 “Let it Burn”

Over to you, Usher.

Over to you, Usher.

Image from http://www.mcgrow.org.uk

 

Ever hated a plane so much that you begged the fire crew to let it burn immediately after you saved yourself from its murderous cabin? Of course you haven’t, but someone has.

On 11 April 1962, an EAA operated Canadair C-4 Argonaut plane struck the Embakasi Airport (Now JKIA) runway and almost immediately caught fire. The plane was carrying out stimulated three-engine approaches when the training captain attempted to unfeather the feathered engine and feathered one of the others. The plane stayed airborne for 1.5 miles before hitting the runway and beginning a fire bonanza!

The Canadair Argonauts had been forced on the EAAC by the BOAC, British Airways predecessor, despite the fact that they were ill-suited for East African routes. So the pilots hated them. So much that after saving his own skin and that of his two crew members, he simply asked the fire crew to…Let it Burn!

Now we know where Usher got his inspiration.

#5 Richard Leakey 

Setting standards for badass poses. www.sierraclub.com

Setting standards for badass poses.
http://www.sierraclub.com

But whenever he is not out looking for poachers or cavemen treasures, Richard Leakey was out there surviving plane crashes.  He survived a small propeller-driven plane accident in 1993 that crushed his lower legs, which had to be amputated. Three months later, the man was again walking on prosthetics.

It is well-known (but hush-hush, don’t-tell-anyone-I-said-it kind of news) that the crash was most likely an assassination attempt. Given that no attempts seems to have been after that, it seems the Reaper and the assassins simply recognized his invincibility and left it to good ol’ time to do the work.

 When he was 11, he fell of his horse and fractured his skull.He also survived Moi and Kenyan politics.

Oh, and when the aircrafts weren’t trying to kill him, his kidneys were. He was diagnosed with terminal kidney disease and given a prognosis of less than 10 years. He got a kidney transplant in 1979 from his brother Philip but it was rejected only a month later…he survived the pneumonia and pleurisy from a weakened immune system

Whenever death sees this guy, it just offers him a cigar and kisses his ring.

#3 ‘The Drunk Infant’

On 28th June 1946, a Rapide VP-KCU plane enroute from Nairobi to Mombasa made a crash landing in Garsen near Lamu.

The pilot had been flying on the wrong bearing and went off course, eventually running out of fuel and being forced to crash. The eight passengers promptly abandoned the wreckage and begun a three day survival series that would be so awesome that it would almost be forgotten in Kenyan History.

The passenger manifest shows that the passengers included a pilot, five adults and a baby girl.

The plan was spotted by RAF Baltimore on the 30th but the party was only rescued the following day. In total, the six adults and an infant survived three days in the wilderness with nothing to eat but biscuits, marmalade, chocolate, and whisky. 

Whisky, saving babies since 1946. www.rsc.org

Whisky, saving babies since 1946.
http://www.rsc.org

…and dew water of course. There is no mention of whether the eight month infant was fed on whisky. But aren’t babies always high on something?

#4 Flight KQ 430

When a Kenya Airways Airbus A310-300 crashed into the cold Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Ivory Coast on 30th January 2000, there was little hope of finding any survivors. There was no distress call from the pilot before the crash, and it took at least two hours for rescue operations to reach the wreckage. But one man didn’t wait to be found, he swam his way to life.

The bird crashed less than two minutes after taking off from the seaside runway. 168 people died in that horrific accident; which was also Kenya Airways first fatal accident since its formation in 1977. Rescue operations involving powerboats and local fishermen saved seven survivors from the water.

The still unnamed Frenchman’s survival instincts kicked in, and his good swimming skills also helped, and he swarm 1.6 kilometers (1 mile), with cuts and bruises, to the shore. How did he find the beach? Simple, he followed arc lamps set up by the rescue operators. 

He was a good swimmer. That’s how he managed to survive.” Also, he flipped the Grim Reaper-this part is not mentioned in the story. 

#2 A Propeller Walks into the Cockpit

Knock Knock Who's there? Just me, Propeller, Prepare to die! www.mcgrow.org.uk

Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Just me, Propeller, Prepare to die!
http://www.mcgrow.org.uk

On 27th April 1964, an EAAC plane landing at Kilwa in modern-day Tanzania left the runway. The soft ground brought the plane to a sudden halt, causing the port propeller to contact the ground. Given the design of the plane, the propeller flew off, hitting the cockpit and killing the pilot.

The man who survived the horrendous accident was First Office Tommy Turk. Turk survived because the pilot did not follow DC 3 flight manual procedure on a planned forced landing at the time. As he notes in his report, the manual stated that the captain should land the aircraft from the right hand seat, the FOs side, with the FO moving to the passenger compartment.

Cases of the propeller ‘walking’ into the cockpit after a crash were not uncommon. And that’s exactly what happened, a propeller strolled into the cockpit and sliced the good Captain in half. Tommy Turk later described the scene : “The Captain. was in a huddle on the floor, at an odd angle, holding his elbow, saying ‘my arm, my arm’. The arm had almost been totally severed, just above the elbow… I leaned over to pull the Captain up towards him so he could better apply pressure to the artery.  Only then did I notice that the Captain’s  body had been sliced in half by the propeller. Within seconds the Captain lost consciousness and died from the massive blood loss.”

Tommy Turk was a Hungarian pilot who lived in Kenya for most of his life. He retrained and retired as a Captain in 1973.  

#1 Captain Solomon Nyanjui

Death 0 Cpt Nyanjui 4 www.africanews.com

Death 0 Cpt Nyanjui 4
http://www.africanews.com

Captain Nyanjui is a man who has come to a consensus with death. You stop messing up my flights and I’ll stop making you look so incompetent. And given that he is still flying choppers today, it seems the deal is working.

Captain Nyanjui has crashed four times, each seemingly crazier than the last. While flying a chopper from Isiolo on November 15, 2007, Nyanjui crashed into the dense forest underneath. Thus begun one of the greatest survival stories that would last eight days.

The crash broke the man’s ribs but not his spirit. He had no food so he survived by eating leaves. To further compound the situation, and to make Lost even look more realistic, he had crashed in a region with torrential rainfall and teeming with wildlife. Wildlife is too general a reference, according to the man, a herd of elephants rocked the aircraft at night. Now, your nightmares of accidentally being rejected by your crash look like child’s play don’t they?

He then found the dislodged battery for his phone and sent an SMS to a friend. A whole new level of wingmanning was thus born, and can only be surpassed if someone in space needs to be rescued from a nagging date. He was, however, found by a group of farmers out digging a water trench.

He is a man who the gods of the air have tried to kill incessantly, and to no avail. Two years before the crash, he had crash landed an aircraft in the Aberdares while carrying the then Nation and Safaricom CEOs-Wilfred Kiboro and Michael Joseph. The crash was caught on camera.

…and of course he went back to flying again a few months later (he said he would)because fuck you, death.

You would think the Grim Ripper would just quit, right? Well, in 2008, Nyanjui had to make yet another crash landing while carrying a dignitary. 

 

Owaahh © 2013

 
6 Comments

Posted by on September 7, 2013 in Badassery, Death, Events, Pages from the Past, Short Lists

 

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When Uganda and Zambia had Space Programs


Yes. The answer to your question is yes, both Uganda and Zambia have had space programs. As have hundreds of other countries, you rebut? Well, the Zambian and Ugandan programs hold the cake for nongiveafuckery, something whose primary symptom is well, not letting obvious weakness stop one from dreaming.

Uganda

Of course it was Idi Amin’s gig. Of Uganda’s countless head of states before the hat guy, who do you think could have the balls to simply say “fuck you earth’s atmosphere, I am become space!”? Of course it’s the Uncrowned Last King of Scotland, that man whose last name means ‘sister’ and was acquired from his habit of sneaking his ‘sisters’ into his military barracks when he was a junior office. Amin was not only your usual boring kill-everyone-who-disagrees-with-me dictator. He did do that, but he also makes anyone trying to be powerful and eccentric look like an amateur.

barewalls dot com

Movies have been made about the man. Hollywood makes movies of you if you are either too awesome to ignore, or bring in such new madness that the old madness looks sane. “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular” also wanted to own the bragging rights in space exploration.

That one time he made British businessmen carry him in regal style complete with an umbrella man? That wasn't part of the program...

That one time he made British businessmen carry him in regal style complete with an umbrella man? That wasn’t part of the program…

Amin’s idea got past the blueprint stage and got as far as car tyres. It was smoke, of course it was. The tyres? For an obstacle course designed to help the astronauts survive in space. At least Amin’s idea of it. Sadly, the idea was soon overshadowed by his other madness and its audacity lost in how well he managed to outdo himself. Say what you will about the man, but he dared to dream.

Of all his dreams and crazy endeavors though, only this one made it to Time Magazine’s 100 Worst Ideas of the Century. Such takes effort.

Zambia

Eight years before Amin, there was a Zambian man with a somewhat similar dream. To go to the sky, far far into the red planet, and beat those so-called superpowers to it. He had seen the space inhabitants via his telescopes, he said, and the only way man could walk on the moon was on his hands. Nothing could stop him from going though. Well, almost nothing. Like a pregnancy.

Edward Makuka Nkoloso joined the Space Race in style. The school science teacher established the Zambia National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy as Zambia’s answer to NASA. The first plan? To send twelve astronauts and ten cats to the Red Planet. He even wrote about it in an editorial where he said that his makeshift facility was only a temporary site pending funding from UNESCO.

Yup! We are going to the red one. Namaste bitches!  Photo from news.discovery.com

Yup! We are going to the red one. Namaste bitches!
Photo from news.discovery.com

At his awesome facility, the would-be astronauts were rolled down a hill in a 44-gallon oil drum. According to the man, that would help train the astronauts the feeling of weightlessness.

Just watch the video of this guy and tell me he is not oozing of awesomeness.
http://youtu.be/NL5gEpkATTA

See the floating in an open jerrican, the swings, it looks like a kindergarten playing field for young adults, no? That woman seated on the far right in the opening scene who doesn’t look like she’s trying?

Nkoloso did not let his lack of facilities and the fact that the guys interviewing him were only using him to fit a stereotype stop him. Mh. Mh. He stares right into the camera and says he is going to take people and felines to space, and the space inhabitants need not worry because his missionary has express instructions not to force Christianity on anyone.

So, what could stop a man with such clear goals, except of course, gravity?

If you said a pregnancy, here’s a cookie. Matha Mwambwa, the 17-year old space girl and would-be first African woman in a rocket, got pregnant and had to leave the program. It was she, a missionary and two specially trained cats who were to make that first trip outside earth.

But why cats, Nkoloso? What did you view on the surface of the Red Planet that informed your decision to send a scout party that includes cats? Are there alien mice, perhaps?

“They won’t concentrate on space flight; there’s too much love-making when they should be studying the moon,” Nkoloso said before he closed down the academy. Nothing more is known about how the cats were rehabilitated back to earth standards of weight and no alien mice. Nkoloso disappeared too, as did the dream of beating the superpowers to Mars.

Not pictured, the Space cats that no one talks about...

Not pictured, the Space cats that no one talks about…

Uganda’s and Zambia’s Space Programs are laughable by today’s standards because they point to a deeper sense of innocence. Yet the audacity to pursue such dreams despite the clear challenges in technical expertise and funding are impressive, if nothing else.

For Idi Amin, the space program was merely one in a series of outrageous projects he would pursue before he was ousted. The man claimed to have witnessed UFOs over Uganda, and given the wider context of his actions, the space program looks less outrageous than his frequent massacres.

What of Nkoloso? Pure balls, that’s what. Only an overly ballsy person can stare into a camera and outline his goals so eloquently without giving an ounce of anything what the world thinks of him.

Owaahh, 2013.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Badassery, Events

 

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7 Most Badass Prison Escapes in Kenya


     Prison is a shitty place. In fact, let us rephrase that, next to hell for theists, prison is the worst place you can ever be. There is always something trying to kill you, suck your life and blood or sodomize you, if not all three. If you do survive all that, the government is waiting just outside to execute you or drag you back to the cholera cells. So one can understand why Kenya’s 101 prisons have seen more than a few escapes and attempts. In fact, any prisoner who is not thinking of escaping ought to be released! Or have a mountain named after him, like one of these guys…

#7 Naivasha Maximum Prison

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As one of the country’s maximum-security prisons, Naivasha GK Lice Prison has seen more than its fair share of successful prison escapes. Its most notorious record prisoner hemorrhage to date was the escape of 28 prisoners on April 21, 2004. Two dozen plus prisoners simply vanished from the prison-some reappear on a later entry on this list. It is like the prison guards weren’t even trying.

The government, ever eager to pass the blame, thought so too and quickly blamed ‘inadequate staff and laxity of prison warders.’ We don’t know that much about how the labor system works but of course 300 worker bees will appear lax if they are doing the work of a hive of 900. But who are we to judge the government, the government knows. We will move on now.

After the December 2007 escape of seven death row inmates, the opposition party at the time, ODM, claimed that the government had deliberately assisted the prisoners to escape to assassinate top ODM leaders. The news of the escape quickly faded from the public limelight as we started cutting and torching each other while digging into our tribal cocoons. If ever there was a group of prisoners to benefit from a Force Majeure then it must be the Naivasha 6. What was that? The PEV was not an Act of God? I thought the deity was to be blamed for everything, being omniscient and all…

#6 Kamiti Prison (mostly attempts)

Capture

It is perhaps not surprising that there are very few, if any, successful escapes from Kenya’s most secure and most notorious prison. If Jonah Anguka and John Kiriamiti are to be believed, Kamiti is actually worse than you think it is. Go on take a minute; imagine how horrendous life must be in Kamiti prison. Now, multiply that by the largest figure you can come up with and then divide that by the number of lice colonies you think you can sustain during a life sentence. If your worst nightmare does not include some big burly prisoner making you his ‘mtoto’ then you are not thinking of living within the walls of Kamiti.

Almost there...

Almost there…

One of the first reported attempts to escape from the place where lice has more freedom than men was in February 2000. Eleven years later, on September 21st 2011, six inmates also tried to escape by cutting the metal grills in their cells. They had already exited the cells when a warder spotted them. The cockbocking warder-a crude analogy given the prison context-was most likely rewarded by a pat on the back. The Kamiti 6 are still the laziest group of prisoners on any list of prison escapes in Kenya-they had figured out how to get out of their cells but had no idea about how to exit the compound. You can imagine the walk of shame back to the sodomy cells.

There is the small issue of whether prison escapes from Kamiti have been hidden from the public eye. One example is the case of three Langata Road execution victims. Remember the front-page images of a Flying Squad cop executing three men who had surrendered and were lying on the road in broad daylight? The one that was a national outrage for all of two minutes before we quickly reverted back to our usual apathy and showing justice the [[midfing]]? Well, there was a deeper story, one of the men was supposed to be in remand at Kamiti and the other two had been released only halfway into their sentences. Hussein Gichuki Mwangi (Ochuka), the ringleader, had been sentenced to death while the other two Hezron Mwangi and Paul Njomo,  had been sent to the slammer for seven years each for robbing ‘Kenyan tycoon and politician’ Cyrus Jirongo of jewelry worth KES 750, 000 in 2004. Gichuki’s appeal had yielded a retrial but he was not released on bond-he was expected to be in prison but had presumably levitated out of a maximum prison and back into the crime world.

Kamiti is famous for other things, like the prisoner who went beserk and killed two others in the sickbay by strangling them with crutches, and the video of brutal beatings during a prisoner search in 2008.

#5 Sonko Escapes from Jail

Kenya-Prison

The Tana River escape was the center of one of the latest prison escapes. In it, three serial killers charged with over 38 murders escaped from their prison cells at the standard hour for prison escapes-3.00 am.

Shimo la Tewa has a less glamorous history. In the most recent escape, two murder suspects constructed a ladder in the prison workshop and hid it within the compound. They then used it to climb over the wall. It turns out that the seats in the refurbished Parliament are not the only tools to be made in a prison workshop and then used for criminal activities. You are in good company, MPigs!

A ladder is not exactly Scofield’s ducks.

But perhaps the most famous prison escape was the 1998 escape of the future MP for Makadara and Senator for Nairobi. You know him as the man with a lizard on his head, more metal than a steel mill…he often looks like so much is happening around his fashion sense that nothing sensible is actually happening, as if he attempts to put his audience into a trance so they don’t hear the stupid he spews out. His most recent? During a recent parliamentary debate, the also-why-wont-you-shut-up Anyang’ Nyong’o made a reference to Hugo Chavez, the now dead socialist leader of Venezuela and the prison escapee thought he was referring to ‘Rachel Shebesh.’ I will wait for you to stop laughing.

Are you even trying, Puss?

Are you even trying, Puss?

Technically, Sonko did not escape from Shimo la Tewa prison itself but from the Coast General Hospital where he was chained to a bed. He bribed his way throughout the whole process in 1998, and then again a decade later into parliament. He had paid some guy to make his faked illness look even more legit, and then paid off almost everyone—El Chapo Guzman style-before making the successful escape. His later defense was that he had gone to bury his mother. How noble.

Did I mention that he was disguised as a lady? The Standard issue of May 18, 1998 was not clear on whether he added boobs to his charade but given his antics over the last five years, we would be safer assuming he even had mascara.

Oh, and he and Pastor James Ng’ang’a were cellmates at Shimo la Tewa, whoever says that we do not rehabilitate needs to see these guys. Chuckles. Who says our correctional facilities are just cholera and sodomy centers? Oh wait, that was me.

…and remember that book, John Kiriamiti’s My Life in Crime, where he escapes from prison? Sonko claims that inspired his escape…before he goes onto to quote from the bible.

#4 King’ong’o Prison ‘Break attempt’

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This one doesn’t even qualify as a jailbreak. It is here because the government propaganda machinery first branded a case of brutality as necessary force to foil an attempted jailbreak.

On 3rd Sept 2000, 6 deathrow inmates died in King’ong’o Prison. The prison department attempted to cover up the killings and recorded them as being the result of fatal falls from the 40ft wall during the attempt. They hurriedly buried the mangled bodies and then went back to taking bribes and not fighting cholera.

The official story was that two escapees had managed to escape but one had been caught later randomly strolling in a nearby village wondering what to do with his newfound freedom. But the story refused to go away. First, there was the issue of the hurried burial and the horrendous state of the bodies.484742_473436542710590_605536596_n

After the intervention of several human rights groups, a lethargic Moi government began an inquest that ordered the exhumation of the six bodies. The official story was fraught with loopholes. The postmortems noted consistent extensive injuries inflicted with a blunt object. . This differed from the incident report recorded by the police of the cause of death as gunshot wounds . None of the prisoners had any bullet wounds and all of them had signs of extensive injuries including broken skulls, jawbones, ribcages and gouged out eyes. Way to foil an attempted escape Prison Department! Way to go!

Nine prisoner warders were charged with murder, and all were found guilty and handed the mandatory death sentence on 18 December 2008. Five filed successful appeals but the appeals of the other four were denied in April 2013.

It must be sad-and dangerous- being an imprisoned former prison warder. Think about how the ‘mendes’ (the sodomizers in Kenyan prisons) will pass you around while making you ‘wield the knob’ and ‘open the cell door.’ I think something like that happens much later in the Prisonbreak series plot, the warder going to jail part, but luckily after Tbag was out.

In 2010, two inmates tried to scale the wall but were captured after they fell and broke their limbs. At least someone had thought up something slightly legit about the high wall in the 2000 escape.

#3 Mageta Prison Escape

mau2-prison

At the height of the state of Emergency, the British government established several camps away from the conflict zones to house political prisoners and suspected Mau Mau insurgents. One of those places was Mageta Island, a small Island on Lake Victoria. One of the two entries on this list from the colonial era, Mageta is a story of darkness, human sacrifice, and forgotten escapees.

On February 5, 1956, 11 prisoners (or 9, depending on the source) escaped from the treacherous island. First, they hacked a fisherman, Onimbo Haulu, after he refused them use of his canoe. They hid his mutilated body in a nearby bush and it became the source of propaganda. The official story spread by the local authorities was that the escaping prisoners had used Onimbo’s blood and body parts to perform an oathing ritual. Most historical accounts are unclear about whether this actually happened, but that does not matter, what followed the news does.

They vanished as soon as they arrived in Usenge. The obviously overzealous security forces killed three during the subsequent hunt. An angry mob killed Jotham Njoroge in Alego and another killed two of his colleagues in Sakwa. The rest managed to escape.

Mageta contributed somewhat to the post-independence animosity between the Kikuyu and the Luo since most, if not all, of the escapees hailed from Central Kenya. The rumor that they sacrificed Onimbo portrayed them as brutal savages, an effective tool perfected by the colonial government. One wonders what happened to the other five (or three).

#2 The Embu GK Prison Escape

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The most badass prison escape in postcolonial Kenya, the Embu GK prison escape of 2006 makes the other entries on this list look like skipping school. It was as much an escape as an attack; a group of gangsters stormed the prison, in stuff that you only expect in cliché movies, armed several inmates, and then shot their way out of the cholera and sodomy. You probably know this plotline from several terrible movies where the villain is imprisoned and his minions stage a badass attack to free him. They shoot everyone who is anyone, and then drive out with guns sticking out through the windows. Embu was no different.

Other than having pairs of titanium balls and tonnes of nongiveafuckery, the gangsters had had previous target practice. Embu GK seems to have been part of a systematic plan to free a specific gang of criminals. First, Silas Mugendi Njeru, one of the masterminds of the prison attack, had himself escaped from Shimo La Tewa prison a few months before. The other target practice was Entry #7 when two dozen plus prisoners levitated from Naivasha GK and the other was an escape of 29 suspects from Meru courts.

While the bro code is unclear about what one should do when a bro is in prison, we are sure it does not include getting guns and shooting your way in. Maybe something less murderous, like giving money to their wives (criminals always have several) and lecturing their children. Among the prisoners who escaped were Simon Gitau Saitoti and Godfrey Mulwa Kitheka, two of the most badass criminals in modern Kenyan crime history. The two, known in the crime world as Saitoti and Ngilu, were later shot and killed in typical extrajudicial execution style.

The whole shenanigans led to four deaths: a trader, a gangster, a remand prisoner, and a prison warder. Wait, what was a businessman doing in Cholera country? We might never know.

#1 A picnic on Mount Kenya, or the Oxo Tin Escape

2012-2-14-tumbiumbimadness_178

So, how can a 1943 prison escape win dibs on a list that includes the classic storming into a prison with guns blazing, jumping over the wall, and masquerading as a woman? What can outdo the public execution of prisoners who had teleported from maximum-security prison walls? I’ll tell you what-an escape so badass that the prisoners walked back to the prison after they were done doing even more badass things. Hell, the escape even spawned a book!

In January 1943, a group of Italian Prisoners of War (POWs) escaped from the POW Camp 354 in Nanyuki. The three prisoners, Felice Benuzzi, Dr. Giovanni Balletto and Vincenzo Arsotti escaped from prison, went on a three-week adventure, and then walked back into the prison. That last part seems to defeat the entire logic of a prison escape, doesn’t it? Why would you bother to, say, dig through a pit latrine to the other side, or sneak through barbed wire, only to stay three weeks free and then walk back? But you are not Benuzzi and Co., and history will soon forget you.

IN context, Felice Benuzzi was a man who didn’t like to get bored. He was that eccentric friend you still hung around despite your guts instincts repeatedly warning you that one day, one of his stunts will kill both of you. Benuzzi first pitched the idea of escaping the boring POW camp to a professional mountaineer. He didn’t intend to have them walk all the way to Italy, which would have been sure death, but wanted them to escape and climb Mount Kenya, which was even surer death. The expert mountaineer, in following with the script that all experts are douchebags unless you are paying them, trashed the idea. Benuzzi should have listened to the advice on food and ideal wear but he was not a man to get bogged down by such details.

So he went for the next best pair, a doctor and a sailor. Perhaps he figured the sailor knew a thing or two about being in places with funny weather and a million things that want to kill you, and the doctor would, well, do whatever witchcraft it is that doctors do. Suck on that expert mountaineer!

On the 24th January, the trio begun what would be an 18-day odyssey. They presumably drew a phallic image on the mountaineer’s forehead with prison marker pen-equivalents before sneaking out while giggling like the badass metrosexual prison escapees they were. The only map they had of the mountain was the label of an Oxo tin …of course, because they were guys, they would rather consult a food tin than ask for directions, puh! The sailor fell sick at the base of the mountain but the relentless Benuzzi and the doctor soldiered on for 17 more days, reaching a point at about 5000 meters on the North West ridge. They planted the Italian flag and left a message-bottle on Point Lenana, presumably a dedication to Mussolini and a prayer to the gods. You can see the logic in the act, it was high up in the mountain, the gods live up there, it was closer.2012-2-14-tumbiumbimadness_179

You can imagine the shock of the camp commandant when the three POWs leisurely strolled back into the camp on 10th February. He was so impressed that he reduced their month-long solitary confinement to a mere week, a nod to the daring act. A prison escape so badass that the guy who should be punishing you reduces the punishment? …and then proceeds to telegraph his superiors a story they will need likely not believe. It is a manual on how to win respect from your jailers, and your fellow prisoners from whom you stole food and supplies.

The British government then sent an expedition to remove the Italian flag and host the Union Jack, but nothing they did could remove the embarrassment.

The prison escape was so badass that it spawned a book and has been the subject of many documentaries and spinoff books…and a point on Mount Kenya is named after the man who led the escape because that is what we do, we celebrate achievement, not means.

 Owaahh, 2013.

 

 

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7 Myths about the ‘Mau Mau’ War (Some are TOTAL BS)


The 1950s are Kenya’s curse. No one cared to correct the myths because they fit into a certain context which romanticized the Mau Mau while keeping them subjugated to their new lords. While they died off in abject poverty and a society that blamed them for Operation Anvil, a different set of myths took root and became the mainstream stories…

Oh, and the tale of pseudo-gangs is not comprehensively explained on this list but you might want to ask your grandparents which Mau Mau exactly they really were on by the end of the rebellion.

#7 MAU MAU? Mau Mau? Mau? 

Depicted in British Culture as a group of savages www.maumauhistory.com

Depicted in British Culture as a group of savages
http://www.maumauhistory.com

Basic Kenyan history huh? You could answer this one while overlapping and texting on the phone and not endanger anyone on either lane, right? Well…what we have are ideas, guesses, too many to be sure…it seems like we forgot to ask Sir Evelyn Baring’s predecessor before he left. Dedan Kimathi’s assertion in the KFLA Charter notes that the ‘Mau Mau’ was a synonym for terrorists and that the movement was called the Kenya Freedom (and) Land Army (KFLA). If it was propaganda (and quite effective, given that it is now a brand and a term used to indicate brutality), where did it come from in the first place? It clearly has roots in some African language, more so Bantu, but which one and/or why?

The group originally called itself muingi [masses];Other possible sources of the common name include the ‘Movement of Unity’, the Kikuyu Maranga African Union (KMAU); or, as Bildad Kaggia claimed, the secret code muhimu. Some accounts even claim that the name could have been taken from the Mau, the range of Mountains in the Rift Valley. In 1963, another claim emerged, this time arguing that young Kikuyu boys would say ‘Uma Uma’ [‘Get out! Get Out!’] during initiation.

The murder that started it all...

The murder that started it all…

Another myth (well, I warned you there are many) 2claims that it came from the first ever prosecution of a member of the Mau Mau, that of Magroui Ole Kedogoya, for attempting to recruit his supervisor into a secret society.  He allegedy said (as quoted in Kinyatti, 1992) “ndingikwira maundu mau mau nderirwo ni kiama.[ I cannot tell you those, those things that I was told not to tell you by the movement.] This version claims that the wide coverage of the case by the colonial press grasped the words ‘mau mau’ (those, those) and assumed they meant the secret movement.The group later made due with the brand as ‘Mzungu Aende Ulaya. Mwafrika Apate Uhuru’ (No, not that Uhuru, the feudal prince one, although come to think of it….)

There is one other plausible source…

 It is likely that the name came from a mishearing of a Kikuyu or Swahili word, and ‘ muuma’ seems like the most likely candidate. Some factions of the freedom fighters refered to the movement as ‘Muuma wa Uiguano’ (Oath of Unity). Could it be that the loyalists, in attempting to explain what the Mau Mau oath was and why it was so strong, never noticed that the British colonial government heard something completely different and seemingly retarded?

The name itself was not exactly unique as it formed part of Sojourner Truth’s mother’s nickname ‘Mau-Mau Bett.’ Truth’s mother was an enslaved African from Guinea. She (Sojourner) died in 1883.

 #5 Obama’s Grandfather 

The guy in the background knows, he does...

The guy in the background knows, he does…

In Dreams from My Father, Barrack Obama claims that his grandfather was detained and tortured by the British.  Sarah Obama, according to multiple accounts, says that when he came home he was thin, dirty, and injured. Hussein Obama had (supposedly) been suppling weapons and information to the freedom fighters.  Sarah has further been quoted as saying that Mzee Obama’s testicles were pressed and he had been whipped by his African oppressors twice a day…because, of course, the British and their cronies had an unhealthy obsession with pliers and testicles. Obama claims in his book that his grandfather was held for 6 months, and Sarah claims he was held for 2 years, it was the 1940s/50s anyway, time was a blur…

 The only would-be corroboration for this story is that of Tim Symonds (3rd Last Paragraph) where he says

 “During one mission in the bamboo forest he captured a 50 or 60-year-old insurgent named Obama who spoke perfect English. That is clearly not a Kikuyu name and Tim has written to the American Embassy trying to discover if this was the grandfather of U.S. President Obama.”

Why its BS…

An Obama biographer, David Maraniss critically assessed this claim and came out with nought; he got multiple accounts from Hussein Obama’s friends who worked with him and who noted would obviously have known. There is also the curious fact that at the time when Obama the Elder was supposedly in prison, his son, Obama Sr. (father to the current POTUS) was studying at Maseno National School (1950-1953).

Waaaaaiiiiiit.... www.telegraph.com

 At least he didn’t come home and say ‘I was swallowed by a whale’

http://www.telegraph.com

 

It is likely that Obama was a friend of the founders of the group, then running the militant wing of the KCA, the Group of 40 but it is unlikely that Obama ever became an active member of the group.  Tim Symonds’ story implies that Obama Sr. was an active fighter, a seeming discrepancy from the other myth that he was a secondary participant in the war…

One of Obama Sr’s daughters, Ayuma, gives a more logical explanation; that he had been kidnapped by thugs and the story had been weaved through generations to claim he was a freedom fighter. 

#4 Lari Massacre, The Night of Long Knives

Kenya’s poster-child case of how a counter-massacre is the generally accepted response to a massacre.

On March 26th 1952, a group of Mau Mau fighters attacked and massacred entire families yanking children away from their mothers and hacking them to death. Anywhere between 70 and 100 people were brutally murdered in a single night including Chief Makimei and his predecessor, Luka Kihangara.

Lari Massacre

The counter-massacre began when the homeguards returned and found Luka’s, Makimei’s and other homes ablaze. As they gave chase to the fleeing Mau Mau fighters, they began a counter-massacre that eventually outdid the initial crime. Lari DC at the time, John Cumber, made the situation even worse when he ordered that all male suspects be rounded up (which, if the chronology of state massacres is anything to go by, means virtually any male in the vicinity).

Luka's Homestead, where all hell broke lose... www.ugpulse.com

Luka’s Homestead, where all hell broke lose…
http://www.ugpulse.com

In Volume 2A, Page 165/6/7, the TJRC report vividly explores the counter-massacre that made the first massacre look like a joke. The Commission refers to the massacre of the early hours of 27 March 1953 as “Little-known, little-discussed, little-acknowledged and yet undeniable...” Although almost all historical accounts hold that the 70 people died in the initial massacre, over 200 bodies were strewn all over Lari on the morning of 27 March. In the East African Standard report sometime after the massacre and counter-massacre, the government acknowledged having killed 150 people. This is generally agreed as the lower limit of the fatalities of the counter-massacre, and does not even include the over 70 people who were later hanged for the initial massacre.

The Lari Massacre of the loyalists and their families was just the one that received the most attention and the one which the Colonial government milked for propaganda. Photos of the initial massacre appeared on numerous pamphlets and news reports, and was used to show the Mau Mau as savages. I guess when you call dibs you must take all the blame…

 #3 When the Mau Mau war ended

A Propanganda pamphlet distributed during the war www.psywar.org

A Propanganda pamphlet distributed during the war
http://www.psywar.org

Officially, the actual war began to subside after Kimathi was captured in 1956. In truth, the Mau Mau war ended in 1963/4, and not without the characteristic massacre that the KE Government uses as a signature strategy to solve security issues. Mwariama -shanekeven dot typepad

The Meru faction of the insurgency survived the decade. Field Marshal Mwariama and General Baimungi (People’s General) had been in contact with Kenyatta as early as 1962 when he (Kenyatta) gave Mwariama a 15-acre plot of land which was, in truth, a loan he and other similar recipients had to pay back. Baimungi went back to the forest in Jan 1964 with ‘200 fighters’ (reffered to as ‘thugs’ in this Times article). Mwariama is the dreadlocked man in the famous photos with Kenyatta. He was good PR. 

At Ruring’u Stadium in Nyeri, Mau Mau fighters including Field Marshal Muthoni, Kimathi’s ‘Weaver Bird’, surrendered their weapons to the government. FM Muthoni left the forest in 1963/4, according to her own account but was first cleaned up and dressed well. General Baimungi, clearly not a known-giver-of-fucks,and his group were massacred on 26th January 1964 and their bodies (Baimungi and Chui) paraded in Meru Town for three days.

The exact reasons of his refusal to surrender are unclear, G. G Kariuki here asserts the popular myth that he demanded that the Mau Mau be given control over the Kenya security forces. His wife,Evangeline Muthoni Baimungi, later said that he (Baimuingi) had been given a Land Rover by Kenyatta and a flag to fly on the car. He used the vehicle to transport about ‘seven 20 kg containers full of cash’ he was holding in trust from the oathing fees. Mau Mau veterans agree there was cash, but argue instead that Baimungi used it to buy the Land Rover. 

Very little is known about what happened to Mwariama, although this account tells us that he died in 1989 due to ‘complications from snake venom he had sucked from the leg of a friend who was bitten during a visit to Ukambani’; the man who enlisted both he and Baimuingi died in April 2013.

#2 Who was Field Marshal Kaleba?

Sydney Morning Herald 1954 2

Sydney Morning Herald 1954 2

I KNOW, you have also never heard of him have you? Neither had I when I first set out to research entries for this list.

Sydney Morning Herald 1954

Sydney Morning Herald 1954

To understand who ‘Field Marshal Kaleba’ was, or was supposed to be, let’s first describe the Gray Leakey Murder, perhaps the most gruesome of all known assassinations during the course of the Emergency.

Arundel Gray Leakey, cousin to the more famous Louis Leakey, and known as ‘Morungaru’ was a white settler farmer in Central Province. He was the brother of Nigel Gray Leakey, a badass World War II soldier who jumped over an Italian tank and shot all its occupants except the driver. He (Nigel) was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award of gallantry that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces, albeit posthumously (he was killed when he tried the same stunt again).

In October 1954, the less accomplished Leakey’s home was attacked by 60+ Mau Mau freedom fighters who killed his wife and force marched him to the Mount Kenya forest. Almost all available accounts of his murder indicate that he was buried alive after being tortured and disembowelled. The murder was reportedly sanctioned as a human sacrifice to appease the spirits, but embarrassed the colonial government and forced it to look for a scape goat.

"Go catch someone, anyone!" The Courier-Mail Brisbane

“Go catch someone, anyone!”
The Courier-Mail Brisbane

A ‘Field Marshal Kaleba’ was the man the colonial government hanged for the gruesome crime. True to character, they paraded him before the media as a ‘Half-Kikuyu Half-Somali’ savage who had led the murder and sacrifice of Gray Leakey. The link above claims that he was captured with two bodyguards, a girl, and most importantly, Gray Leakey’s revolver. Some just named him as a leader of the Mau Mau, although no corroborating evidence exists on who the man was. He appears in no literature post-1954…

So who was he? We know from multiple accounts that there were the only Field Marshals were Muthoni, Mwariama, and Kimathi. So, again, who was ‘Field Marshal Kaleba’? Was the sacrifice of a government that needed to show some success in its fight? Well, we might never know, given the fact that the colonial office must have disposed off of those records to cover up for the fact that they picked up a random guy and gave him a rank and a crime. 

#1 Mathenge, the Tragic Hero

Not pictured: Mathenge

Not pictured: Mathenge

Shenanigans!

A tale weaved over the course of fifty plus years, and hardly ever questioned, that General Stanley Mathenge led a band of fighters to Ethiopia in 1956 and never came back. Kimathi and Mathenge were something akin to rivalling siblings. Kimathi usurped power from the uneducated Stanley Matheng’e and declared himself Field Marshal while Mathenge remained a mere general despite being older and more experienced.

The competition led to the creation of two main ideological factions within the group, one which was aligned to Kimathi and was called ‘Kenya Parliament’ and another called ‘Kenya Riigi’ which had a less defined hierarchy but was led by Mathenge and Kahiu-Itina (Gen.)…and no, the last one did not get his name from stabbing people in the ass, he used to sheath his sword around his waist such that it rested on his buttocks.

By 1956, the ideals of the Mau Mau had pretty much changed from those of a war for freedom to a civil war. Waruhiu Itote and others had turned and were giving valuable information to the colonial government. The colonial government, through the pseudo gangs, reached out to Mathenge and the broader ‘Kenya Riigi’ to change the rules of engagement.

A typical pseudo-gang...  How long did it take you to notice that there is a white man in the photo? www.psywar.org

A typical pseudo-gang…
How long did it take you to notice that there is a white man in the photo?
http://www.psywar.org

General Kassam Gichimu Njogu gives a more plausible version of what really happened.Kimathi was pissed and ordered they (Mathenge and Kenya Riigi leaders) be court-martialed for treason. “Mathenge was bound with six fighters loyal to him to nearby trees as the court proceeded. A Wambui wa Nderitu from Mirangini in Nyandarua supposedly cut the ropes and Matheng’e and his group ran into the forest.”

Or posed with the corpses.

Or posed with the corpses.

Two likely scenarios? Kimathi or the British government caught up with, and killed, Mathenge. It is unlikely that the British government did because, from what happened during Waruhiu Itote and Kimathi’s own capture and trials, they would have made it into a propaganda victory. This leaves only one ugly but more likely event, Kimathi’s side of the Mau Mau re-arrested and executed him and made sure his body was never found. 

Kimathi had more to gain by portraying Matheng’e as an uneducated coward who had abandoned the cause than by admitting he had had him killed.  It was akin to a sibling fight for survival, and everyone lost, except in popular culture where Kimathi is almost deified and Matheng’e tucked to an incomplete part of history. Somewhere in the Mount Kenya forests lie the remains of Stanley Matheng’e and other prominent members of the Kenya Riigi.

“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
― George Orwell, 1984

Update, 6th June 2013.

A keen reader noticed that entry #6 is missing from this list. I apologize for the oversight and shall add the entry soon. As you were…

Owaahh

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Most Brutal and Elaborate Militia in Kenya’s History


In Kenya, the name for a group of youth organized to do so something outrageous shifts from ‘militia’ to ‘gang’ to ‘vigilante’, and back, depending on when you are assessing it and who is paying you at the time.

Gangs gain political angles, or political militia become gangs, vigilantes are used by politicians and businessmen, generally, everyone sleeps with everyone, and the fact that we have not been killed by one group or the other, or its splinter groups, or the ‘strayed bullets’ by now is a total surprise and a proof that if there is indeed a God, then He or She must be confusion.

#7 Sungu Sungu

Sungu Sungu

In its truest sense, ‘sungusungu’ is a term rather than a single criminal gang.The escalation of insecurity is often how gangs and mob units form, and eventually morph into militia and mafia-type groups made of young boys who just need to get laid. The funny this is that the sungusungu do not have a single known chain of command or structures. This might be a farce though because the group had offices and of course, police support, in Kisii town because, what is running a gang without an office? Ask Al Capone…

The Sungu Sungu had existed before 2002 at least as vigilantes, but finally morphed into brutal gangs over the years. They were most famous for lynching suspected criminals and burning suspected witches. Residents of villages and estates still contribute to finance the operations of the sungusungu as volunteer patrols, and you know, to torch witches and commit extrajudicial and targeted killings on their behalf.

The Sungu Sungu are actually one of a set of three ‘criminal gangs’ centered in Kisii that regularly feature on lists of proscribed groups-the other two being the chinkororo and the amachuma. Chinkororo translates to ‘We will rain on you’ and is either the most chilling threat ever packed in a criminal group or simply a case of misunderstood raindrops. They are traditional warriors of the Kisii community, like the famous Morans of the Maasai community. Traditionally, the Chinkororo would mobilize in times of ethnic conflict to protect the Abagusii families of Borabu and Gucha districts. They did-admittedly, engage in cattle rustling ‘to compensate those whose livestock is stolen’ because, what is a good tribal warrior without a few stolen cattle?

The amachuma were a curious addition to the government ban on criminal gangs because they are not a gang, and they do not even exist. ‘Amachuma’ might be from the slang ekegusii word for ‘metal’ -‘richuma’- that ‘loosely translates to village tough.’ Amachuma is the plural for richuma and is not really a gang, but a specific cadre of youth, like saying ‘’ unemployed youth.’ . So, the government has banned unemployment and juvenile delinquents? Such an effective government.

#6 Mungiki

Perhaps the poster child of Kenyan criminal gangs, militia, and vigilante, the Mungiki were not known givers of fucks, although they were generous with the machete. They are the Kenyan Mafia, the Cosa Nostra, the Yakuza of Kenya. Mungiki emerged in the 1980s as something of a gang that combined criminal vigilante activities with cultural preservation. In the 1990s, the group moved most of its operations into Nairobi, gradually taking over the running of protectionist rings  and racketeering in slums, middle-class suburbs and most importantly, running matatu terminus. 

The Mungiki are highly structured: The national overall structure is broken down into a defined cell structure, each divided into five platoons of 10 people each. Even with this, the actual hierarchy remains largely unknown outside the group and of course, the complicit police. The political wing and mouthpiece of the group, the Kenya National Youth Alliance (KNYA), has since gone underground.

The name Mungiki probably comes from ‘muingi’ or ‘Kiama kia Muingi’ which means ‘a united people’ or ‘The party of the multitude/masses’ and which was what the Mau Mau was originally known as before all the propaganda. The Mungiki styled itself as the modern version of the Mau Mau, advocating for cultural rites such as circumcision for both male and females, and complete with a blood-oathing ceremony.

The Mungiki dabbled in politics and backed KANU in 2002, specifically Uhuru Kenyatta, now Fourth President of the Republic, as the presidential candidate.They were furnished with ten military land rovers ostensibly because they had important places to be. The NARC government discovered the link about a month into power, and Internal Security minister at the time, Chris Murungaru, asked the then Chief of General Staff Joseph Kibwana to investigate because you best investigate yourself, sir! After Uhuru Kenyatta lost, the gang’s power waned. Imagine what would have happened had he won…oh wait…

The first real attempt to break up the group in 2003 was a raid that ended up being two full days of clashes with the police in Mathare slums and other places.50 people had died in Nairobi in 2002 during clashes pitting matatu owners against the sect. In June 2007, the gang embarked on another campaign, beheading defectors, conductors, matatu drivers, and killing almost indiscriminately. The retaliation campaign led to over 10 extrajudicial killings by the police in Mathare alone.  In July 2007, members of the sect/gang/militia killed a two-year old, decapitated and mutilated the body in what is thought to have been ritual killing   In the 2007/8 civil unrest they were back with a bang, because the Mungiki are not people to miss a tribal cleansing party!

There have been stories of 500 bodies discovered in thickets, male genitalia being found hanging in town centers, and forced circumcision of members of the Luo community, and women.

Mungiki’s tentacles, like those of the Cosa Nostra and any mafia organization worth the name, are thought to have stretched beyond central province and even Kenya. One notable case is the gruesome murders of Jane Kuria and her two daughters in the US. Jane’s husband had died in 2001, after which she moved to the US and sought asylum saying that she and her children were in danger of being forcibly circumcised. The link might have been a fluke, but not completely implausible given the financial might of the group over the years.

In 2009, Mungiki leader Maina Njenga was released from prison and acquitted of murder charges. A week later, David Gitau Njuguna, the charismatic Mungiki and KYNA spokesperson, was shot dead on River road, in broad daylight, by obviously not the police. Another famous Mungiki leader, Ndura Waruinge, renounced the sect and converted first to Islam and changed his name to Ibrahim, then to Christianity and changed his name to Hezekiah perhaps intending to wash his settle his sins with all possible deities, the ultimate Pascal’s Wager.

The gang has since gone underground, and splinter groups such as Wailer and Thaai, which are already emerging as equally brutal gangs.

#5 Taliban

african-taliban-member

As the divisive Mungiki permeated through Nairobi slums, members of the Luo tribe living in Nairobi slums formed their own defensive vigilante gangs. Known as The Taliban, the gang obviously morphed beyond its initial intent. Other than choosing a name that carries connotations of Islamists who do not like it when women go to school, the Taliban are often referred to as ‘a Christian group.’ To confuse the deities of course… They viewed the Mungiki as ‘moral savages’ more so for the act of forcibly circumcising people than for killing Kenyans for sport.

The Taliban followed the Mungiki business and the business-of-cutting-heads model, extortion, beat-downs, murders, illegal taxation, racketeering, and others. They also engaged in public executions, the most common being stoning a target until he or she was unable to walk, and then burning them alive. Remember the famous photo from the 2007/8 civil war where a group of men are holding a dreadlocked man as another drives a machete into his skull? Well…

Let me save you the trouble...

Let me save you the trouble…

It is sort of what happens in Afghanistan and Iran, what did you expect? In the 2007 PEV, the Taliban emerged as the vigilante defense against the ethnic cleansing (or for, if you were a member of the other tribe) that was taking place while the government was meeting to decide who to blame. The Taliban once tried to blow up a bridge that connects the ‘Kikuyu area’ with the ‘Luo Area’ in Area 3 proving once again that in any way, you should go for the jugular, but you should not.

The Taliban began as an offshoot of the Baghdad Boys, the original grouping that was ‘the Luo tribe’s answer to the Mungiki’. The Baghdad Boys of Kisumu emerged in the early 1990s around the same time as the Gulf War, which might explain the choice of name. They were used widely in the 1992 and 1997 elections. The group later disbanded into several factions, with Taliban being the biggest and most influential. Other splinter gangs include ChinaSquad and ‘American Marines.’

The are many other offshoots of the Baghdad Boys, the most notable being Nyalenda Base, the Chief Squad, Nyamasaria Massive, Kenda Kenda, Kondele Bagdad for Peace (Who do we sue for misleading the public?), Karamojong Boys, Saba Saba, Artur Margaryan (because…why not), Kebago

#4 Ngoroko Anti-Stock Theft Unit

ngoroko standard 2

In January 2013, a Joshua Waiganjo was arrested for (supposedly) posing as a senior officer. Everyone denied knowing the man but there is overwhelming evidence that everyone knew who he was. The case is tied to the Baragoi Slaughter of 40 police graduates who walked into a trap where cattle raiders used them to test their new guns and newfound wealth. The undertones, of course, pointed to Waiganjo being a member of the Ngoroko or for a more apt title, the ‘Stock Theft Unit.’

The Ngoroko was never/is not just a militia group, it was a parallel police force made up of, well, who else but police officers? Integrated into the Kenya Administration police as the Anti-Stock theft unit, the modern-day Ngoroko was formed as a private army and quasi-official police force. Sometime between 1976 and 1978, the Kiambu mafia was willing to do anything to prevent Moi (or any other non-Kikuyu) from ascending to power. Its original aim, according to the Kenyatta Succession (the book, not the joke), was to impoverish the vulnerable pastoralist people.

Its primary activities were poaching and cattle rustling but it moved to assassination hits, carjacking, bank robberies, money laundering, gunrunning, protectionist rings, import, and escort of pirate loot, drug trade, takeover of Mungiki areas, and electoral malpractices. If there is any police unit that knows where Felicien Kabuga really is, then it is these guys. They are like a conglomerate for all things illegal.

Ngoroko was first used in reference to the ‘armies of heavily armed bandits’ who emerged in Northern Kenya, especially the area from the Ilemi Triangle into the Pokot and Turkana districts. The Ngoroko used AK 47s procured from Sudan and Somalia to raid each other and re-raid each other after they were raided for first raiding the other communities. That was before the first militia was trained by Rift Valley police Chief James Mungai, the same guy who slapped Moi twice in front of Kenyatta and once carried out a strip search and home raid after Moi came back from an overseas trip. The first target? Moi of course because if you are going to kill someone, it might as well be the Vice President at the time.  They were said to have been armed with silenced weapons, and only missed him because he was ‘sneaked past Nakuru.’ They were running roadblocks on the highway as they whistled and waited to give Moi several bullets because, they were generous.

#3 Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLDF)

sourced from nation.co.ke

sourced from nation.co.ke

Perhaps the most memorable guerrilla groups in recent years, this militia group focused its activities in the Mount Elgon Area. Formed in 2005, the SLDF’s activities and the ensuing security operations left at least 600 casualties and displaced over 66, 000 people over eighteen months of the most action. The original aim of the group was as a community reaction to the Chebyukk settlement scheme. The scheme, like all other land settlement scheme, was just one ‘big fap job’ [citation not needed] where only the government was left feeling nice and rich.

SLDF ran a parallel administration system and was funded in much the same way as six of the entries on this list, through racketeering, taxation and running protectionist rings. It was also the well armed, with most of the militia carrying AK47s and other types of guns, and with seemingly unlimited access to ammunition. The group used mobile phones, discarding the sim cards after every raid.Rumor has it that the first commander was a former Presidential Guard because the more famous commander, Wycliffe Matakwei Kirui, was just the deputy commande.

Witness accounts detail such as these :

“Once they raid a place, they divide themselves in groups of 12-20 men. Then they surround the area and strike. They are so confident that they at times send warnings before they strike,” says the police officer.

Each of the members is supposed to carry special charms to protect him during an operation.

After surrounding their target, the militia group then blocks all the roads leading to the place as was exemplified during the Kapsokwony raid where the Kaptama/Kapswokony, Kapsokwony/Kimilili and Kapsokwony/Kopsiro roads were all closed.”

In March 2008, the military launched ‘Operation Okoa Maisha’ a large-scale assault to fight off the group. The government also offered an amnesty and KShs 10, 000 for information and surrender. The full title of the operation should have been ‘Operation Okoa Maisha…ha-ha, NOT!’ because the army might have outdone the SLDF. The month before the military operation, the police had uncovered mass graves in the Mt. Elgon forests. …and of course, it sought to outdo the SLDF by carrying out its own massacre to stop the SLDF one. Proving once again that ‘dawa ya moto si maji.’ The militia is estimated to have killed, about 30 people before the well-meaning, deity approved government killed 68 people because, double or nothing.

Successful military campaign huh? Matakwei was killed, the commandant remained and unknown and of the very few who were tried, eight commandants were freed after the government entered a nolle prosequi . The government’s counter-massacre ended the scourge, right? Actually no, in February 2012, the group was said to be regrouping. We are just waiting for the next Mt. Elgon Massacre, let us see who wins this round. My bet is the government remains undefeated in the third round, via technical knock-out…plus, what is a military operation without a few explosives left behind to kill any future militia, or as we prefer them, innocent kids.

#2 Northern Frontier District Liberation Movement (NFDLM) 

Perhaps the most underplayed yet one of the most significant conflicts in Kenya’s history is the ‘Shifta War.’ Recorded in most books and etched in memory as the ‘Shifta menace’, this seeming success of the government propaganda machine overlooks an important militia called the NFDLM. The irredentist militia began in the pre-colonial era, and its exact history has not been well covered.

The Shifta are actually more of an idea than a group and existed as early as the British Military Administration of Eritrea (1941-1952). 4 days before granting the Somaliland areas independence in June 1960, the colonial government declared that all Somali areas should be unified into the Greater Somali. Kenya was granted administration of the Northern Frontier District despite the fact that it was inhabited by ethnic Somalis and an informal referendum had demonstrated their wish to join Somalia.

The Kenya government first considered the NFLDM a s serious threat in 1966 after they used a landmine which “killed two 2 officers and wrecked the vehicle (a police Land Rover).’ The NFLDM was supported by Somalia in training and finance.. The proxy war almost brought Kenya and Somalia to full-scale all-out warSince almost zero information is known of the NFDLM organizational structure, the only possible info can be gleaned from the government reaction. For example, the government confiscated livestock to deny guerrillas access to food and logistical supplies. The state-sanctioned propaganda strategy makes for an interesting read.

The government reaction to the group’s activities was brutal, and was borrowed, almost in intricate detail, from Operation Anvil, the military strategy during the State of Emergency in the 1950s. In fact, declaring a State of Emergency was the first thing the government did. The North Eastern Province (NEP) was closed off to the rest of Kenya hence the lack of evidence of the atrocities committed by both sides. Most accounts suggest  that the government engaged in genocide, as it always does, slaughtering entire villages and ‘vigilization’ pastrolist communities into 14 Manyattas, concentration camps. The villages included passes and fences and all, and of course all the rape and testicle-crunching.internewskenya dot org shifta

This might be the longest running militia in Kenya’s history, as the first real secession of conflict ended in 2000. The war officially ended in 1967 after a peace agreement between Somalia and Kenya, but not before the lesser-known Garbatulla massacre where more than 2, 700 people were killed and buried in mass graves. The few disgraced fighters who managed to avoid being tortured and massacred went home and begun engaging in banditry within the manyattas. Remember the more famous Wagalla Massacre of 1984? That was also part of the conflict, and the government might have used chemical weapons

With five decades of conflict, most of the new militia are content with engaging in the occasional bombing, or shooting, of ‘hostile forces’, ostensibly the Kenya security forces, often warranting extreme reprisals …

–notably, in March 1997, the Ethiopian Shangilla raided the Kenyan side of the border and shot dead over 100 people, including 19 security officers. The skirmishes lasted a whole week, and became a mini-war where they engaged the military and cut off road link. They attacked again in October 1998, and killed 200 members of the Degodia clan, Kenyan Somalis. In 1999, they again attacked, this time with land mines and many times after that…

With the emergence of extremist  Islamist governments in Somalia , the violence quickly returned, and as of 2013, involves various largely unknown militia against security forces. The massacres happen almost daily, and the government swears it will not stop until all of NEP is cleared of its common wish to join the motherland. Okay, it does not swear that aloud, but it has used the NEP for human target practice before.

#1 The Kaya Bombo Raiders

The MRC, remnants of an long-lasting conflict www.trinityafer.com

The MRC, remnants of an long-lasting conflict
http://www.trinityafer.com

You know how there are movies where a group of raiders attack a strategic village and hold it as they fight off government resistance and kill people? Well, it has happened in Kenya…

The Kaya Bombo raiders are the arguably the most structured and best organized entry on this list.

On August 13, 1997, a group of about 200 raiders carrying traditional weapons and covered by foreigners wielding guns, attacked a police post, a police station, and basically anything else at the Likoni Ferry station that had a portrait of Moi in it… They killed 6 officers and stole more than 40 guns. They then went on a violent rampage killing almost indiscriminately, or so it seemed at first. They targeted ‘the mainland communities,’ the tribes that would vote ‘the other way’, in the December elections.

They later retreated to the Kaya Bombo forest, hence the name, when security forces arrived the next morning. The guerrilla attacks did not end, not even after elections ended in December, they continued December of 1998. The police found themselves outmatched by a group that was seemingly coordinated, effective, and almost any other adjective you can use to describe a successful militia. They had had numerous opportunities to practice as Coast politicians jostled for power.

In materials and records that were intercepted during the course of the gang’s activities, a proper military structure, with 278 men in total, was clearly detailed and illustrated. The commanding officer of the group was one Juma Bempa. They had a military structure headed by ethnic Digo men who had served in the police or military. The group also included a retinue of mercenaries and some security forces might have crossed over during the yearlong conflict. 

“An attendance register, records of personnel matters (promotions and demotions, disciplinary actions), and a firearms register that detailed the number of guns, their serial numbers, and a log of who used them”

“… the raiders were divided into different “companies” of fixed composition, and listed the dates of the training given to each group”

“…the second book detailed the raiders’ expenses on food and hospital treatment and included an unsent letter”

If you clicked on the previous link, somewhere in the middle, you will find a detailed analysis of the military structure including the uniform issued to different ranks, and accounts of raiders attacking the post office, shops, homes, and everyone else.

How could a small militia of more than 200 carry out such an effective (because murder) campaign?

The whole gang was the work of KANU politicians exploiting local politics to win the 1997 elections. Most accounts of former gang members, who went on to form the MRC, indicated that similar attacks, a trial run of sorts, had occurred in 1992 but at a smaller scale.

...also, the government will fatten you up, temporarily. www.africanewspot.com

…also, the government will fatten you up, temporarily.
http://www.africanewspot.com

The jury is still out on whether the Mombasa Republican Council is an armed gang, a secessionist group, or a political party. While the courts decided otherwise, the executive still maintains the MRC as one of 33 criminal gangs. The MRC , or as It was first called, the Republican Council, is thought to have been partially inspired by the Kaya Bombo raiders. There is the curious fact that the group was formed as the RC in 1998, around the same time the Kaya Bombo raids subsided, and was also made up, at least originally, of ethnic Digo men.

+ Forty Brothers

This gang is not to be confused with the ‘Forty Two brothers’, another proscribed gang that clearly has two more ‘bros’ than this entry….or the ’40 Ndugus’ which gets zero marks for militia brand differentiation.

Formed in 1998 (again, curiously, around the same time the Kaya Bombo raiders dispersed), the gang would raid homes, rape young women, and steal from the homesteads. Like all other gangs on this list, its signature weapons were crude machetes and traditional weapons, police uniform and the occasional gun. It also operated boats because transportation…

The group used to meet in Changamwe to strategize on its targets. They would hide in caves in Mshomoroni area of Kisauni, which is also the same place they are thought to hide their loot. Residents in the affected areas publicly lynched its leaders and the group fizzled out. Pssst, treasure hunters…? Anyone?

Plus, when do we get the next counter-massacre? What is a good massacre among countrymen?

Owaahh, 2013.

 

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