Why one young Kenyan decided to kill for an ethnic militia
One young Kenyan, an ethnic Kalenjin, tells why he helped recruit others for ethnic killings after the disputed December 2007 election. Now, he and many like him feel betrayed by politicians they say organized the violence.
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Nearly three years later, prosecutors from the International Criminal Court (ICC) are expected Wednesday to indict Mr. Ruto and other Kenyan leaders for inciting the post-election violence.Skip to next paragraph
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As Ruto scrambles to proclaim his innocence, all that men like Elijah can feel is a deep sense of betrayal.
'Real change' deferred
For him, the promises of “real change” – pushing Kikuyus off the land – were abandoned because of the personal ambitions of Ruto and his core group of supporters.
Elijah lost faith in Ruto, he says, in late January 2008 -- the moment that Ruto called on youths to stop the violence in the Rift Valley, before those youths had “completed the job” of expelling Kikuyus.
While most of the frontline youths, including Elijah, believed in their cause – pushing Kikuyu settlers off what they viewed as Kalenjin lands – it was the men behind them, the supporters of Ruto, who benefited from the violence, Elijah says.
Used and betrayed
In 2008, Ruto and other politicians turned their backs on the youths they had helped mobilize for political expediency and to escape international prosecution, says Elijah.
Now many Kalenjin youths feel used and betrayed, as their lot remains unchanged, while Ruto and his close supporters are either serving in high government positions or maintaining close ties to those in power.
“They are the same people who are even now working for [Ruto],” says Elijah, noting that Kalenjin elders are once more recruiting young men to prepare to fight to defend Ruto. “The same agents are saying, 'we can fight.' ”