A nation in turmoil

Kenya: 'They killed our people, so now we will do likewise. We are just revenging'

As 100 die in the tourist idyll of Lake Naivasha, a chilling dispatch on Kenya's slide towards civil war

On the one side of the road hundreds of angry men had gathered, armed with machetes, clubs and metal poles. On the other, scores of desperate families huddled together. Only a thin line of a dozen or so policemen stood between the hunters and their prey.

"They killed our people," said Francis Mbogo, calmly gesturing with his machete to across the road. "So now we will do likewise. We are just revenging."

Warning shots were fired as the would-be lynch mob surged forward, baying for blood.

A tall man pushed his way to the front. "Listen to me," he demanded, wielding a wooden staff studded with nails. "We have been waiting to see if the government can do anything. They have done nothing. So now we have made our plans."

Yesterday's scene was on the main road through Kenya's flower town, Naivasha. The armed gang was ethnic Kikuyus and the fleeing families were Luos and Luhyas. But similar scenes have been repeated through the Rift Valley, with different groups playing different parts in four days of appalling tribal violence that has left at least 100 people dead and many more homeless.

Truckloads of Kikuyu refugees from Eldoret and other towns in the North Rift Valley have arrived in Naivasha in the past week. Only Kikuyus, the crowd said, could now live in the Karakita slum that stood behind them.

"They have killed our people in Rift Valley," said James Kathenge, a young man armed with a small metal pole. "They have killed our people in Nyanza. We cannot allow it."

Weeks of attacks on Kikuyus living in other parts of Kenya have now sparked reprisals from rampaging gangs trailing a gruesome home-made arsenal. Yesterday's violence brought the election-related unrest to the lakeside district dotted with tourist lodges.

A German tourist and a German businessman were clubbed to death by robbers near the country's tourist capital, Mombasa. They were followed to their resort apartment on Sunday night. But police said there was no connection between the incident at Diani, just south of Mombasa, and the ethnic violence which has torn the country apart since last month's elections, killing a total of 800 people.

In Naivasha, the families gathered on the north side, mainly Luos and Luhyas, had been chased out of their homes – and the armed gang on the south were not going to let them go back.

Another, older man tried to be heard. As he started speaking, the crowd hushed. "We don't want bloodshed," said Leonard Sindani. "We want peace." The crowd murmured its approval. "But they must go. If they stay we will deal with them. There is no going back. This is the final plan." The crowd roared its approval.

"You tell them they must go," Mr Sindani shouted. He waved his wooden club for good measure and others joined in: "You tell them! You tell them!"

On the other side of the road, just 15 yards away, Jane Monda stared back, tears running down her cheeks. When she left her house on Sunday morning to go to work, her two children, 12-year-old Isaac and 10-year-old Betty, were playing with friends in the street. By the time she left work that evening the clashes had begun. "I couldn't reach the house," she whispered, her eyes fixed on the armed gang blocking her path. "They would not let me through."

She tried calling neighbours on their mobile phones, but some had fled. Others did not want to help her. "My children are stranded. They are hungry and crying. They need their mother. I do not know if they are still alive," she said.

As she spoke a roar went up from the crowd on the south side. A woman from nearby Naivasha town was trying to deliver a bag of food to those on the north side. A handful of men ran towards her and grabbed it from her hands. A police officer intervened and handed it back. She scurried down the small slope as the crowd jeered.

Before December's election, the Karakita slum had been a cosmopolitan mix of different tribes. People from all over Kenya came here to seek work in the flower farms that line the shore. More than one third of all cut flowers sold in Europe are grown in Naivasha.

Ian Godfrey was one who had come in the hope of employment. He was born 20 years ago in a small village in Western Province, but could not find work. Now, after a year working at a flower farm, he faces the prospect of going back, chased out of his home by people he called friends.

"Before the election it was very fine. We worked together, we played together. We drank together and shopped together." But on Sunday evening a gang of 200 men, armed with machetes, sticks and bows and arrows started attacking homes in his area, chasing away anyone who was not a Kikuyu. He ran and hid in the police station. "They are trying to revenge, but we had nothing to do with what happened to their people," Mr Godfrey said.

The flawed election of 27 December, which saw Mwai Kibaki re-elected as President despite evidence of vote-rigging, may have sparked this outbreak of violence, but in the past few days diplomats and analysts have said it has changed.

Britain's Africa minister, Lord Malloch-Brown, said the violence had become "more sinister". Following meetings with Raila Odinga, the opposition leader, Mr Kibaki and Kofi Annan, who is still in Kenya attempting to mediate between the two sides, Lord Malloch-Brown said: "There is evidence of hidden hands organising it now ... The targeting is very specific and deliberate."

Naivasha had, until Sunday, escaped the worst of the violence. Not any more. The stand-off looked like lasting all night. Then a rumble of thunder and it started to rain. As it poured, Kikuyus on the south side fled for the shelter underneath the awnings of roadside stores, all boarded up. The Luos and Luhyas on the north ran back towards the police station. "You go!" the Kikuyus shouted, as they ran. "You go!"

Click here to see our timeline of the unfolding events in Kenya

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curre...

Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: You must:- Speak English as a first lang...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: If you are a committed Te...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style