Okaka Cycles For 30 hours To Kisumu-“Its Like Making 3 Flights From Europe To Kenya”

Posted on February 19, 2008. Filed under: Butdoisay TRUE STORIES |


Christopher Okaka, 42, shed tears of joy on arrival at the displaced people’s camp in Kisumu.Okaka was, however, gasping for breath because he had cycled for 30 hours from another camp in Nakuru. He put his life on danger by cycling through the wild, but his face brightened in the knowledge that in Kisumu, he was only a few kilometres from his ancestral home.But Okaka had had little options. In a lorry that was transporting displaced people from Nakuru to Kisumu, either Okaka or his wife could get a place. He gave the space up for his wife.

He surrendered his space on the lorry transporting IDPs to Kisumu to his wife.

“I did not have money and was not comfortable at the camp,” said Okaka.He added: “I was extremely worried for my family and staying at the camp any longer would have been waiting for death. After I gave my space in the lorry to my wife, I decided to cycle home.”

Like a cyclists in competition, sweat rolled down his body when he reached his destination and alighted from his bicycle.

Those who had taken the ride in the lorry were shocked to see him. One person asked him: “Wuon Anyango, ichopo nade?”(Anyango’s father, how have you reached here?)

His ten-year-old bicycle, christened “Thiringinyi” (Luo for a ‘thorough machine’) was the centre of attention at the camp.

Okaka had completed a 200km journey from Afraha Stadium in Nakuru where he had been camping with his family for more than three weeks to Kisumu in 13 hours.

Before post-election violence, Okaka, a mason, had lived in Nakuru’s Free Area estate for more than 20 years. But when violence erupted, his house was reduced to ashes.

It was then that he, his wife and their five children sought refuge at Afraha Stadium to await transport to their rural home in Seme on the outskirts of Kisumu.

But when Dr Kofi Annan, the chair of mediation talks, recently announced that a deal over the political crisis had not yet been reached, Okaka was worried.

“When I heard on the radio that the two main teams had not agreed, I knew a problem was brewing,” he said. “I resolved to move my family to a safer place.”

He consulted his wife and they decided that moving to Kisumu was the only option. Okaka left Nakuru for Kisumu at 9am on Sunday.

“During the ride, I was scared but I prayed and asked God to see me through the journey and to take care of my family,” he said.

He came across vehicle shells that had been burnt during the violence and this scared him stiff. Okaka, however, admits that at times he walked. At one point, he tugged on the back of a lorry as he cycled to save energy.

By 10.30am on Monday, Okaka reached Salgaa trading centre where he took an hour’s rest.

“I had no money and survived on water,” he said. “When I arrived in Kipkelion, armed youths confronted me. They asked for my ID and where I was going. When I told them my plight, they gave me Sh50.”

Okaka said he used the money to buy a soda and roasted maize in Kericho, where he took half an hour’s break. He then started his final lap to Kisumu, where he arrived at 4.30pm

“When I reached Awasi, I relaxed because I was now home,” he said.

On arrival at the Kisumu’s St Stephen’s Cathedral Church, where other displaced people from Nakuru were camping, he used his Red Cross Society identification card to secure a place at the camp.

“My only worry now is how to ferry my family to my ancestral home,” he said.

Okaka is, however, optimistic that he will get help and has requested Red Cross officials to help him…..UHCK where are we ? There are more to help…..butdoisay…


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