God's Child on The Run
It all began with a phone call from the International Criminal Court — The Hague that was later to indict the current President of Kenya, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and his deputy, William Kipchirchir Samoei arap Ruto. Then, they were still running for the high office as they faced crimes against humanity and forceful displacement of populations.
I fled my native land Kenya, after International Criminal Court (ICC) investigators probing the violence that followed Kenyan bungled Presidential elections in 2007/2008, contacted me.
It was 60 days of total madness as more than 1200 people died and over 40 men, women and children who sought refuge in a church were burnt to death by irate youth.
Half a million people and animals were forcefully displaced from their homes, raped, and tortured mostly by neighbors and friends they knew. People were dying from something beyond their control, their tribe.
I was never a witness, nor did I ever meet any ICC investigators, but the mere suspicion that I was participating in the ICC process prompted a spate of backlash. Witnesses and potential witnesses started disappearing one by one.
In my Book, GOD’S CHILD ON THE RUN, I describe my ordeal as people I believe to be State agents not only followed my every move but tried to abduct me twice.
I sought refuge in public bathrooms, pubs, cyber-cafes. Witness protection houses were not safe. Sometimes I would stay on different buses scuttling from one part of the country to another, like frightened mice, cornered in the deep dark endless tunnels of death and injustice.
I wrote as if these were my last words on earth as I closed towards the heavens. I knew I would not live, but I wanted my family and friends to know what had happened to me. I had no access to phone, internet, or computer. I scribbled on every book, old diaries, used newspapers, cardboard boxes, paper bags, plastic bags, and any other semblance of writing material I could lay hands on.
Walking in the streets in the dark shadows and alleys, waiting to be shot in my back several times was one of the scariest experiences I ever had. But God saved me from the hand of the enemy despite all the state and international resources they had, despite a thousand fears. My intense prayers to God along my dark journey would determine whether God would deliver me out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
My greatest fear was being found in the national park, eaten up by wild animals as has happened to other Kenyans, journalists, politicians, priests, and activists who spoke up for justice.
And I cried unto the Lord — “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
New Year is one of the sweetest moments in Kenya, the climax of Christmas festivities that gather family from distant ends of the country for two weeks of laughter, sunshine, hugs, food and drink. But in 2007, the dawn of a new year echoed with of drums of war. A political contest for the country's presidency went awfully wrong and in a span of hours, long buried tribal animosities seared to the surface, turning husband against wife, neighbor against neighbor. Machetes clunked against innocent skulls, women were raped, children bludgeoned and the old and infirm violated and murdered in an orgy of violence that lasted weeks and shocked the world. This is a journalist's account of the blood and tears that destroyed families and stained a nation. Only the politicians won. Ted Malanda, Alternate Editor, The Standard, Kenya.
Omwa Ombara's beautifully written account speaks volumes to those who have become victims of circumstances and targeted for honesty. An innocuous, truthful interview from the past develops into a looming specter forcing her to flee the country and profession she loves. A must read for journalists and the public at large Tom Rhodes, Former East Africa Consultant, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).