Wagalla survivors seek reparation

The pain of the human catastrophe plotted and executed by the Government on February 14, 1984, at Wagalla airstrip, a small settlement some 11km west of Wajir County headquarters, will endure forever.

In many regards, the pain is not unlike what was experienced during atrocities visited on Kenyans during the 1950s Mau Mau uprisings. But at least the Mau Mau case against the British Government is before the High Court in London.

What makes the Wagalla Massacre even more revolting and agonisingly traumatic is that it was committed and covered up by fellow Kenyan public officials and security officers.

Security forces rained terror on patriotic, hapless citizens who had not committed any crimes against the nation. Sadly, we may never know exactly what happened on that fateful day and how many people were brutally killed and maimed.

One thing, however, not in doubt is that following flimsy accusations of possession of illegal arms and inter-clan conflict – and acting on irrational "instructions from above" – some 5,000 men from the Somali Degodia clan were forcefully rounded up at night.

Raped women

They were taken from their homes in Wajir town by a joint security team and herded into the barbed-wired airstrip at Wagalla, leaving behind raped, abused women and destroyed homes.

And at the end of four long, hellish days, according to then Internal Security Minister Justus ole Tipis, "only 57" were killed, as if this number was not outrageous enough!

However, the late Hon Ahmed Khalif, at great risk to his life, produced and published in the local papers the names and identity card numbers of some 400 people who were confirmed and identified as part of the crowd that was massacred.

Residents have since then insisted that over 4,000 of their men were unaccounted for. The ratio of those identified by the late Khalif and those said to be unaccounted for by residents is 1:10. This ratio appears to be consistent with historical, conflict situation figures of the dead, missing and injured.

Public inquest

Last year, Prime Minister Raila Odinga instructed the Attorney General to initiate a public inquest into the Wagalla Massacre. While this gesture is welcome, it is not enough and will amount to almost nothing.

This month, members of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) are in Wajir to hear the ordeals the residents here suffered at the hands of the Government.

What the orphans, widows and survivors of the Wagalla Massacre are asking from their Government are simple: a genuine apology, empathy, and financial compensation of, say, Sh3 million for any person who died. Then the healing process will surely start.

One would be tempted to ask, who shall be compensated? A neutral committee can be formed for the purpose and the best place to begin would be with the late Khalif’s list.

In the light of the new Constitution with its elaborate human rights provisions, we cannot afford to have wailing widows year in, year out because of gross abuse of their fundamental, basic rights.


  1. The unjustifiable slaughtering of Kenyan citizens in mass with impunity is yet addressed.The present six suspects summoned at the Hague is the beginning of addressing impunity not withstanding the culprits to frustrate the international courts process.Rest assured the perpetrators of Wagalla Massacre will follow suit one day.Kenyans have recently voted for the rule of law to prevail.posted by Doli in Toronto

  2. I agree doli. Justice delayed is justice denied. But one day, they'll either be given justice or they'll demand it without any further discussions.

  3. feisal billow4/27/11, 9:31 AM

    in one way or the other am also avictim juu ma uncle zangu walikuwa pale na mpaka sasa imeniaffect kimpango,ma calprits lazima waletwe mbele na haki itendeke.


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