Suffering Leads a Christian Back to a Terror Zone
11/18/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Musee Kiema worked as a manual laborer in Elwak, Mandera County, Kenya, before a September 2018 attack left him seriously injured. Though his family never lived in this area, he moved by himself to a place that he knew was unsafe, in order to provide for his family. He relied on earnings from his masonry work in the local stone quarries and on construction sites to support his family of eight. Just a year after this attack, he returned to the very place where he narrowly escaped death by stoning.
He explained, “I am quite aware of the danger of working in Mandera and the risk non-local Christians face. Before we were attacked in 2018, we had been warned that al-Shabaab [was] planning to launch several attacks targeting people who have come from other parts of the country, because most of them are Christians. But we could not just leave. We have families to [feed] and we come from one of the marginalized regions in Kenya.”
In September 2018, extremist Muslim residents of Elwak began a riot when several men suspected to be al-Shabaab insurgents were found dead outside the town. The police tried to end the riots, but this turned into a violent and bloody skirmish. In retaliation, the irate protesters turned their anger toward several non-local Christians working at a hospital construction site. These individuals were caught off guard, including Musee.
He explained, “I remember that fateful day with a deep, heavy sadness. I woke up as usual and headed to the construction site where I was to meet with my friends that we used to work with. That morning, we received a report that some young Muslim men had been shot dead by police for being suspected of having close links with the dreaded Somali-based terror group. None of us thought that that would bring tension among the residents because the security officers were alert and on top of things.”
Musee continued, “Some of our attackers were known to us, but on that day you could not believe how fierce and dangerous they were. I was able to escape with serious head, hand, and leg injuries. Unfortunately, two of our colleagues were stoned to death and another one survived with deep head injuries. He almost died as well.”
Life has not been easy for Muse end his family of eight. His last born child is only three months old.
He shared, “I know it is hard to believe that I had to come back to Elwak less than a year after surviving the attack. My family needs are too great though. I have a large family and they need food, clothing, [and] school fees, just to mention a few. I could not stay at home and watch my family suffer. I had to make a drastic decision.”
Despite the fear of going back, Musee has decided that his family comes before his own safety. He hopes and prays that he will be able to make a living that will support his family and that he will remain safe. Though several quarry mines in Mandera have closed due to the threats of al-Shabaab attacks, Musee is hopeful that the few operating ones will enable him to earn a living.
Musee concluded, “Generally, work in the whole of Mandera has being affected by the continuing attacks on security officers by the militants. Non-local workers are still threatened but we pray every day that the Lord will keep us safe. Two weeks ago, a vehicle ferrying eight construction workers was accosted by armed gunmen, but they managed to escape. I thank the courageous Muslim driver who defied the stopping orders and drove the van past the attackers.”