A few months ago, I wrote that someone I know must have participated in the post-election violence.
This weekend, I discovered that a close family friend was forcibly recruited by Mungiki, handed a panga, and ordered to create violence. He managed to escape from Mungiki after a few days.
What was not offered, and what I could not ask, was what he did, did not do, might have done, might not have done, might have wanted to do, might not have wanted to do.
These are the stories that no one told me over the phone or email, the stories that are, just now, filtering through as we continue to tally those who are still among us, physically, mentally, spiritually.
These are the stories that are told sotto-voce, received with a “we were all mad in those days,” and filed away carefully, if we are to maintain the innocence of our friendships. Grateful that those we know survived, there are questions we dare not ask. It’s easier, though not easy, to record strangers’ observations. It’s more difficult to rewrite the histories of attachment and affection we term family and friendship.
These are also the stories that should give us pause, the ones that should compel us to check self-righteous hubris of the “I would never have done that” variety.
These are the stories that will come between us and join us, as we fear and protect our own. It is a story that I can tell on this space, where the web of my attachments is too diffuse to yield real knowledge, where it can only be evidence that someone “like me” also “went mad.”
This is how we must speak of it: someone like me went mad. And in making that judgment, I turn away from one truth to one I can live with.