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What should concern Kenya is not the political and personal fate of the suspects whose charges have been confirmed by the International criminal Court, but the lives of the thousands of victims who are still nursing their wounds four years later.

Now that Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Francis Muthaura have resigned from their posts, it is about time the government focused its attention on the real victims of the post-election violence of 2007/8.

The government should not waste any more taxpayers’ money on legal teams to advise it on how to handle the charges confirmed by the International Criminal Court.

What should concern us as a nation is not the political and personal fate of the suspects but that of the thousands of victims who are still nursing their wounds four years after the crimes were committed, and the millions of Kenyans who were indirectly affected.

Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced by the violence, more than 1,000 lost their lives, and some 2,000 women, girls, boys and men were gang raped. They are still waiting for justice; none have been adequately compensated.

The horror stories emerging from the violence have been documented in the report, ‘‘On the Brink of a Precipice’’ by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, which gives a harrowing account of the role played by State and non-State agencies in funding, organising and carrying out the violence.

The crisis has also been pictorially depicted in the book, Kenya Burning, and in the documentary, The Burden of Peace.

The latter documents the stories of the mainly female victims, whose suffering took on multiple dimensions.

Women, who were the main caregivers in IDP camps, had to endure the brunt of the indignities and brutalities of the crisis.

Take the case of Anastacia Mmbone, who was living in an IDP camp near Kibera when she went to look for her eight-year-old son.

He was lying by the rail tracks, blinded by teargas. A gang appeared and raped her.

When it was over, she carried her son and walked four kilometres in the nude to seek help. She could not speak about it for days. She is now infected with HIV.

Twenty-nine-year-old Alice Atieno, when returning from work, was shot through the nape outside her house in Kisumu’s Manyatta area.

The bullet left her body through her jaw. For nine months, she could not eat or drink.

Seventy-five-year-old Phyllis Nyawira fled from her home, a seven-acre sugar cane farm in Kipkelion when the violence broke out. She now lives in a rented shack in Kakuret, Naromoru.

Dorcas Githua lost 15 years of investments and hard work in Kisumu. She continues to pay a mortgage on a house she does not live in because it is occupied by strangers.

There are other heart-breaking stories such as that of Rosemary Akinyi, a 40-year-old widowed mother of five. When paramilitary police broke down her door in Kibera, she begged them to spare her teen daughter, and rape her instead. They did, and she is now infected with HIV.

A similar story is that of Patricia Nduku who was at home with her husband in rural Mombasa when neighbours locked him in the house, took her out to the farm, and gang-raped her.

They returned three times to loot her property. Every day, she looks across her hibiscus hedge, and sees her attackers still walking free.

Unfortunately, most politicians, analysts and commentators have failed to grasp that the real shame for the country is not the fact that high-level government officials are being charged by an international court for the gravest of crimes, but that the government has failed to either arrest or charge a single one for carrying out the crimes.

Contrast this with Rwanda, which has tried as many as a million people through the traditional Gacaca court system since the genocide in 1994.

The stories above remind us that the perpetrators of the violence are present in all communities in all parts of the country.

The four suspects may be the most culpable, but there are a whole range of people who should be in the dock with them, starting with the Electoral Commission chairman Samuel Kivuitu to the petty slumlords and village thugs who were hired to kill, maim and rape.

President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga – as leaders of the warring parties – must also take responsibility for allowing the violence to escalate.

Kenyans cannot forget that they and their teams insisted on playing hardball while Kenyans were being slaughtered.


Rasna Warah is a columnist with Nation newspaper in Kenya where this article was first published.
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