The British Army And The Rape Of The Samburu Women

This is an astonishing and deeply disturbing story. It is also a largely untold story; untold in the West and particularly in Britain that is, but well known in Kenya.

It is the story of how some 500-600 women from the Samburu tribe in Kenya have fought for years to prove that they were raped by British soldiers who, under an arrangement with the Kenyan government, train regularly in the nearby countryside.

Those impregnated by their rapists and who gave birth to children that are of a lighter colour than native children have been shunned, abandoned by husbands and families and forced to leave their villages and set up home together in their own community.

The British have responded to the women’s complaints by asking the Royal Military Police to investigate the allegations – the military investigating the military – a familiar procedure to those who have lived through the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

In another outcome familiar to Troubles’ veterans, the RMP cleared the soldiers of the charges, claiming that since some of the stories by the women were invented none of the allegations are credible. But how to explain all those light-skinned Kenyan kids?

Thanks to MV for sending this to me……

2 responses to “The British Army And The Rape Of The Samburu Women

  1. Pingback: British illegal wars in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Robert Barnstone

    In 1980 I built the bush camp that is now the village of women is. It was called kurungu camp and at the time I was working for the Tukanna bus and as a young builder and architecture student I was given the job of building the camps at lake turkanna and in the Horr valley here is an excerpt of my writing: I was looking at the pictures of the Turkana Bus a Kenyan safari company that I used to work for, and I found myself in the pictures posted by one of the other drivers. In one I am in the middle breaking firewood. It was my first trip up and then, another couple of images at the waterfall taken toward the end of my stay as manager of Kurungu Camp 1980-81, These warriors below Balaunna and Gododoc, would take me for hikes into the mountains for days at a time. Though I did a lot in terms of keeping the camp up and building the new airstrip there were times when I would venture out and hike into the bush with my friends. I was the only employer in the area other than a small Aquamarine mine on the other side of the Horr Valley run by a pair ao Kenyans of Indian origin. When the trucks came, once every two weeks, we would take to tourists off the staff’s hands, and hike up to the waterfalls above our camp. That’s me with a beard sitting on the rocks. At that time we had an innocence, the people had and innocence, at night the Samburu danced and chanted, the hyena chattered and I played Traffic and 4 Way street on a cassette deck hooked up to a six-volt car battery. The Samburu people were in my camp all the time. Not often, but once in a while I would go out and dance at night with the tribe, to them it was funny to see me there, trying to dance, with the woman we would stand in lines facing each other and shake our necks thrusting forward and back fast and crouching at the same time up and down and up and down shaking all over. I was “Robot” so they all knew me … but it was a gas to learn their dances and beautiful to see them in beautiful red henna hair and body paint with their beads bouncing to the rhythm. On a trip back to Nairobi to gather supplies, I stayed at Mrs. Roches, she was a Polish widow who put up travelers in her house and yard. It was a feast of polish food and vodka. There was Greg from California who arrived with a suitcase of Cassio watches and a gem spectrometer. Two English blokes of Polish origin were buying things in war-torn Uganda and bringing them back across the border to Kenya. I met Ekia, an English girl who was a 3rd-year medical student in London, she came back with me to Kurungu camp at a very turbulent time. She was well-traveled and had come by bus through The Sudan to get to Kenya. We had a shitty old jeep one of six in Kenya at our company headquarters the guys were like ” he’s American he can fix it.” so we drove that back up to the Horr valley. We settled into life at the camp. After a while, things heated up among the rival tribes. The Ngarakos, a group of bandits who had gotten guns when one of Idi Amin’s armories fell, and with stolen guns began stealing cattle and killing. The tribe assembled to send out a war party to get back their cattle. At the clearing in front of my patio looking to the river, the warriors sat on one side the elders on the other, debating how to go to battle with the bandits. I had the opportunity to speak and offered our help. In the coming days, we went up to the back of the ridges where the to collect warriors that had been wounded in pursuit of the Ngarakos. Once we got them back to Kurungu camp we threw them up on the dining table. I watched as she sewed up the wounds. In the beginning, we had one home guard, he was killed and ended up in my drive with a bullet through his neck. It was very sad he used to spend a lot of time at the camp, as many people did, we encouraged familiarity with the folks around us, one of the drivers knew Samburu and was close to families in the Bohma. Most of the time things were peaceful there At one point the priest in Tomb was killed along with two children. The burnt landrover had blocked the road to tomb and the priest of the south Horr mission asked me to clean up the mess and put new wheels on that we brought with us from the mission. The landscape was covered in lava boulders that cover all the landscape like black marbles of all sizes stuck into a whipped cream landscape sculpted and barren. The Priest was an officer in the Italian army before becoming a father for the church he had a stern reputation and there was no food at the time, The Garakos were hoping to gain favor with the locals and after killing the priest they went to the mission in Tuum and broke into the food stores and let people take what they wanted. We towed the vehicle back to a little village across a deep gully. unhooked the skeleton of the landrover, got in, and asked the folks to push the car into the ally just in front of me to the left and so I got in and the car started to roll backward, though there were fifty people there when the car started to move everybody let go and then the car just kept going. one guy tried to throw a rock under the wheel, but it just bounced over it and kept going. So I am rolling backward down a hill with no fucking breaks, everything is burnt, no hand brake and just booking toward a very bad situation, a deep ravine was down the road a couple of hundred meters that had a bridge over it. At one moment I saw an opportunity to cut to my right over a side cut embankment in the road that landed me in a farmer’s field. The whole village meanwhile was running after me and all came up to the farmer’s field and everybody was laughing and caring on everyone chipped in and we safely got the car back to the ally to park it. I left Kenya that summer to get back to school, get a few tools to digest my time with the tribe and the elemental aspect of the whole experience. I still have not digested it, mostly because nobody else knows about it, so to see these pictures of the Turkana bus means an enormous amount to me. Thanks for posting them and maybe someday I will finally go through my slides and find some more pictures of that time. In the worst of times, I had to get the military police to come up and chase the Ngarakos away. They send 60 police in military trucks fully armed, in the evenings the officers would come by, one showed me where a bullet hit the side of his machine gun, Paul ( a turkana orphan) the cabin boy and bartender served the warm Carlsberg beer, and we talked, I went to bed with the sound of gunshots, not sleeping but thinking, frightened and planing what to do if things got bad. Over the next couple of months, their campaign was back a forth throughout the valley and the surroundings.

    I worked for the Safari Camp Services in 1980-81, we ran a rough cross Africa, week-long truck safari up into the Northern Frontier District, an area with little government oversite, we went through a gated military post on the road, just past Thompson falls and long after that, three days into the Northern Frontier District was Laiyangiani on lake Turkana where I built a camping site, fenced in with a cummy half build concrete block building that we were able to make into a nice kitchen, and patio, it was a beautiful grassy oasis with hot springs just bubbling out of the ground, at night we would go to the springs and the young villagers would be there, all of us goofing around in the moonlight on an oasis in this barren and vast lava field. We were there to put in a water system, make the place presentable for camping and dig the long drop toilets and build an outhouse above. our camp was located on the oasis near lake Turkana very close to the Oasis Lodge. I cut my shin and it got badly infected, I still have the scars. But most of the time I was fifty kilometers south at the beautiful mountain range of South Horr where I managed Kurungu camp. It was a great time. While I was there one of my first tasks was to build the camp at Loiyangalani near the Oasis lodge. One of the drivers, I can’t recall his name now but he was close to the Samburu and could speak with them, dropped me and Magu off up there with few shovels bags of concrete and plumbing supplies and we dug two long drop toilets and roofed the concrete block building and set up a bush kitchen. I scraped my leg and it got infected and luckily the mission had an infirmary dosed the cut with penicillin powder and that fixed me up. Later, back at Kurungu camp, I lived like a king, Memsab had found the most amazing cook an older man who spent many years and a personal cook to a danish man, he served me and the tourists brilliantly cooked meals. It was a difficult time then, and one day I found an official who had the only home guard in South Horr shot through the throat dead in the back of his land cruiser. Then they armed 16 Homgards and things settled a bit until a local chief and his family were murdered by the Ngorakos. I had met a medical student at Misses Roache’s place when I was down in Nairobi picking up supplies to build the airstrip just outside of the valley. We came back together to Kurungu and found ourselves retrieving wounded warriors from the bush and sewing them up and getting them to the mission for recovery. We burned through all of our medical supplies by the time I left our medical trunk had scraps in it, just completely used up. Of course most of the time it was just paradise and we just watched the grey Vervet monkeys move like a wave through the camp and above in the fig trees. At some point the police sent sixty soldiers to chase down the Ngorakos I think it was after the Priest and the poor children from Tomb were ambushed, I was asked by the father at the local mission to go to pick up the burnt rover and collect the bodies. We took new wheels and chained it to the Hobbit and with the father, in the landrover we made it back to a small village.

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