- Once a vocal crusader of The Hague trials, he recently changed tune and now wants the international court to terminate the cases facing the two Kenyans.
- This was a dramatic U-turn for a man who had been supporting the prosecution of those that The Hague-based court says bear the greatest responsibility for the crimes committed.
- His first brush with death came long before he became an activist. It was back in 1992 and he was in Form Two at Arnesen’s High School in Burnt Forest. It was an election year and pockets of violence had broken out. Their family house was burnt down and they were displaced.
Ken Wafula is a diminutive man. But he says he is fearless to a fault and speaks his mind loudly, even in the face of danger.
The father of three and husband to Miriam Njoki certainly did not think much about his own life when he became one of the most vocal voices in support of the International Criminal Court (ICC) trials.
Sample this: Mr Wafula and his family live in Eldoret. It was one of the hotspots of the 2007/2008 post-election violence, which broke out after a hotly contested and bitterly disputed presidential election. When most people preferred to speak in low tones about the killings that followed, Mr Wafula chose to speak from the roof tops.
For his loud crusade against political violence and firm stand that the perpetrators must be found and punished at the ICC, he has had many brushes with death. Thirteen times, to his recollection, has he been threatened. Yet he wouldn’t change course.
But he stunned friend and foe recently when he followed Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria’s cue that witnesses against Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang, in their ICC cases, had been paid and coached.
“Recently, I came out and made a statement that many people believe was a change of tune. I said that if indeed there were people who claim they procured, coached, and bribed witnesses to testify against the deputy president, then, as a human rights activist who once participated in protecting witnesses, especially at the Waki (commission of inquiry) level, I said the deputy president and Mr Sang’ should be set free,” Mr Wafula told Lifestyle.
He added: “There was a lot of misconception, I received thousands of calls from inside and outside the country with mixed reactions but I still maintain the same stand that the two are innocent.”
Mr Wafula spoke after Mr Kuria said he was aware and willing to testify that witnesses were coached to testify against Mr Ruto at the commission on the electoral violence chaired by Justice Phillip Waki.
“Everyone thought that I fixed Ruto and Sang. Now that Kuria had come out, the truth could finally be known,” said Mr Wafula.
Mr Wafula said he was doing many things behind the scenes to help Mr Ruto and Mr Sang’ get acquitted.
“I’m currently planning to petition the Assembly of State Parties over the same. At the same time, I am writing a letter to the United Nations Security Council, and also engaging the ICC internally through my own avenues,” he said.
Of the political affront against the ICC, he said: “I have an analogy that I have used before that if a village elder has received a complaint from one of the residents that a certain person stole his chicken and the village elder now begins formally to address the issue because that is some sort of a kangaroo court, and then one of the parties to the case starts insulting the village elder, the village elder is likely to enter into an irrational decision based on emotional anger.”
The ICC judges, he reasoned, are human beings with emotions and are likely to give an irrational decision if provoked.
“I am one of those trying to help the deputy president get out of this; I think I have the magic that will remove him, and I know what I am doing,” he said.
This was a dramatic U-turn for a man who had been supporting the prosecution of those that The Hague-based court says bear the greatest responsibility for the crimes committed.
“I have been threatened 13 times and reported all the cases to the police but no action has ever been taken because the police feel intimidated as they think it’s the State’s plan to eliminate me, and so they can’t stand in the State’s way. But I remain unbowed,” Mr Wafula said.
His first brush with death came long before he became an activist. It was back in 1992 and he was in Form Two at Arnesen’s High School in Burnt Forest. It was an election year and pockets of violence had broken out. Their family house was burnt down and they were displaced.
“I had to scavenge for food in Eldoret town before we were taken in by the Red Cross,” said Mr Wafula. “After three months, the rest of the family relocated to Western Kenya but I stayed on and rejoined school with the help of (Eldoret Catholic) Bishop Korir.”
Trouble was not too far away, though. He would later be expelled for what he calls “student politics” and he completed his secondary education at St Columbus High School in Nakuru.
The teenage experiences of political and land-related violence shaped the thinking of the man who would later become an almost lone voice calling for justice.
Driven by his past, he was prepared to withstand hostility; abhorring violence — supported by his wife who, he says, is a prayerful woman.
“I even fear my own courage. You sometimes do or say things and wonder what will happen? But I do not say things that I’m not sure of,” he said.
He added: “I get my strength from my wife. She’s prayerful and a leader in her church. She fasts a lot for our security. She has played her role.”
Because of his fearless pronouncements, it was alleged that he was under the protection of America’s Central Intelligence Agency operatives. He told Lifestyle it was a myth which he never denied since it worked in his favour.
“Because of my stand on ICC issues, local politicians have always been hostile to me and connected me to the author of the deputy president’s problems. That is a perception that is far from the truth. I was once attacked by Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and his bodyguards over the same issue and today I have a paralysed finger. I have since forgiven them,” he alleged.
In a press conference three days after the August 2014 incident, Mr Sudi denied assaulting Mr Wafula but confirmed that they were at the same venue that evening.
“There were several other people in the club that evening and they can record statements. I neither touched Mr Wafula nor rebuked him on the claims he is telling the media,” Mr Sudi said. “In fact, Mr Wafula fell and a beer bottle he was holding cut his hand, thus the bandage on the hand. It was clear and everyone saw it.”