My small brother was three when the 2007 clashes happened. He spent nights inside maize plantations with my parents hiding away from the killers, the rapists and the thieves as they drove cows away into the Mau, chanting war songs. He spent nights inside windowless classrooms and days huddled next to other terror stricken children. He was an internally displaced person for days, many days. For a long time, he talked about our cat and his only pair of boots which ended up in ashes after our house was torched down.
The first time I took a pen to write, I wanted to talk about the unfairness of it all. But then I felt that maybe, I had no right. I was miles away when it was all happening. But then I remember sitting across from my father and listening. Night after another he talked about the screams, the arrows that were driven into men and women I had always known, the ashes left in places where houses had once stood. I listened as he listed names of those who had died.
Small wars like big wars leave scars. Small clashes like any big wars create victims. Long after the sound of gun fire ceases, long after the wails of a mother become silent, long after everyone has forgotten, some soul is left struggling. While people go on with their lives, victims of small wars are left alone with their haunted dreams, constant flashbacks. Small wars create victims of post traumatic stress disorder.
Post traumatic stress disorder abbreviated as PTSD, is a mental disorder that usually develops after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, such as rape, warfare, traffic collisions, police brutality, or even terrorist attacks.
Those who directly experience a traumatic event, those who witness as a traumatic event occurs to another person, those who learn that a close family member or friend suffered a traumatic event and those who experience every tiny detail of a traumatic event that happened to a close friend or family can suffer from PTSD. Now you can try guessing just how many victims this election alone has created. Start with the family of Chris Musando, Maryanne Wairimu, Nyarangi, baby Samantha Pendo……then those who have been raped and left to sort themselves at these difficult circumstances given our hospitals are almost non- operational.
When all is said and done, the Victims of WAR, RAPE, POLICE BRUTALITY, TERRORISM, and PHYSICAL FIGHTS will be forgotten. Life will move on. But the victims will always remember with an astounding clarity something about the rape, the shootings, and the killings. Years later, they will struggle to fall asleep, scream at the horror of their dreams, some will be unable to concentrate on anything. As a way to cope, they will drink themselves to their graves, waste away their lives and scream in the loudest voice at anyone who might try to help. Peter Straub describes it all better “It is as though some old part of yourself wakes up in you, terrified, useless in the life here, its skills and habits destructive but intact and what is left of the present you, the person you have become wilts and shrivels in sadness or despair, the person you have become is only a thin shell over this other, more electric and endangered self. The strongest, the least digested parts of your experience can rise up and put you back where you were when they occurred, all the rest of you stands back and weeps- the Throat
Like any disease of the mind, PTSD is treatable.
Victims of trauma should be supported. According to S. Kelley Harrell; “Often it is not the initiating trauma that creates seemingly insurmountable pain, but the lack of support after”
PTSD victims should be seen by psychiatrists and counselors; they will need to be listened to. They will need to be assured, and redirected. They will also need drugs from time to time
PS; what syllabus do Kenyan policemen use when training? Remember Kwekwe Mwandaza? And now one of them clobbered a six month old Samantha Pendo to death.