The Solitude of the Victims

“…The woman measured him with a long pitying look. “There haven’t been any dead here,” she said. “Since the time of your uncle, the colonel, nothing happened in Macondo.” In the three kitchens where Jose Arcadio Segundo stopped before reaching home they told him the same thing. “There haven’t been any dead.” He went through the small square by the station and he saw the fritter stands piled one on top of the other and he could find no trace of the massacre. The streets were deserted under the persistent rain and the houses locked up with no trace of life inside.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez, A Hundred Years of Solitude

The context of this quote from Marquez’s famous fictional novel is a massacre of workers that had taken place, with the bodies having been dumped at sea. The lone survivor stumbles back to the scene of the crime, yet everyone- neighbours, police, his family- insists that the deed never occurred; as though one fine day, three thousand people decided to vanish all at once. This passage vividly captures the double injustice of impunity: both the original crime and the refusal to accept the existence or gravity of the crime.

The scene is reminiscent of the second burial of PEV victims under the wave of political reconciliation/political correctness countrywide. Their loss- measured in lives and property- dwindles into a speck. Their trauma is dismissed as exaggeration. Apart from the Hague Six, none of those alleged to have planned and led the killing have seen the inside of a courtroom. There is no official memorial- unlike for victims of terror attacks (the memorial to the 1998 Al-Qaeda attack is now an Nairobi landmark). And as for the dead…it’s as if 1,500 Kenyans spontaneously emigrated.


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Following the Hague trials of 4 Kenyans to the end. A blog by Archie Nyarango

UK Constitutional Law Association

affiliated to the International Association of Constitutional Law


Advancing the rule and role of law in Africa

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