One night in March this year, 22-year-old Rose Kuraru was in her Manyatta, heavily pregnant, squatting by the fire as she made supper for her family. Her children were playing nearby, patiently waiting for the evening meal.
Then a gunman walked in. Without a single word, he shot two of her sons, a bullet in the leg and the back each, then trained his gun on her and put a bullet clean through her upper thigh. Amid their screams of anguish, he walked out and melted into the night, where his accomplices stood waiting. It all happened in less than a minute.
The commotion woke others in the homestead who squeezed into Rose’s hut, only to find her and her two boys on the dusty floor in pain, their blood soaking into the earth. Someone called the police, and another person went to check on the cows and goats that the family kept.
Livestock raids had become increasingly common in the area, but, the invaders had taken nothing. What happened next was a blur. The police came, packed her and her two boys in the back of a Landcruiser and took her to Nanyuki Cottage Hospital where they were promptly admitted.
Ms Kuraru was in serious condition, having lost a lot of blood, and doctors feared the distress would make her lose her seven-month pregnancy. Hours later, she and her sons were airlifted to Nairobi Hospital by a helicopter belonging to Deputy President William Ruto.
The doctors at Nairobi Hospital first delivered her baby through Caesarean section. Fortunately, although premature, the infant was healthy, and only needed a few days in the incubator. In gratitude, Ms Kuraru named her daughter Rachel, after the DP’s wife.
We find Rachel happy and healthy on the day we visit the family, eight months after their ordeal at the hands of gunmen who are yet to be arrested. The two boys, who were shot, are back on their feet. Their mother, however, was still on crutches.
The family has since moved from their home where the attack happened and are currently being put up by well-wishers. “We were afraid that the attackers might come back. A few weeks before the attack, they raided our homestead and stole 66 goats. I believe they came back and shot to send a message that they do not want us living there,” said Ms Kuraru through an interpreter.
Ms Kuraru and her family lived in Makurian, Laikipia North, an area that has seen raid after raid in the past year, forcing families to abandon their homes.
Across the county in Laikipia West, smallholder farmers in Miteta and Matwiku villages know only too well the kind of terror that Makurian residents are talking about. They, too, have lived it.
“They would come at night, singing and chanting, and firing into the air. They would move their large herds across our farms, totally wiping out our crops,” said Ms Dorcas Wangui, a resident of Miteta. And in neighbouring Matwiku, residents have reported rape and deaths