A few days ago, two men, Kelvin Nderitu and his friend Elias Kinyori were assaulted in their area of residence. Kelvin Nderitu, who took the initiative to narrate the experience on Instagram, said that the incident occurred out of the blue. They were both at home, and two tenants showed up at their doorstep. One of the tenants, Moses Odanga, claimed that Kelvin had stolen his TV. He grabbed him by the shirt and ordered that he should return it. Kelvin was shocked and responded that he didn’t know anything about the TV. Moses’s friend decided to enter the house and search for Kelvin’s phone, and bumped into Elias.
He proceeded to assault him, and he demanded both of their phones. Elias, who was in shock, gave them their phones. The commotion had already alerted the neighbours, who gathered to see what was happening. Moses and his friend searched the phones and couldn’t find any evidence. They continued to assault Kelvin and Elias, pulling their dreadlocks and pointing at their tattoos, relating them to theft. When they realized that their actions were bearing no fruits, Moses went back to his house to look for a hammer. He stated that he must kill them, and he wasn’t afraid of the consequences.
Kelvin and Elias managed to escape, and they boarded a bike which took them away from the area. They both found a place to stay for the night using Kelvin’s phone that he had managed to get a hold of before escaping. The following day Kelvin received a phone call from Moses. He was informed that they should not return to their home and that their belongings were already burnt. Kelvin and Elias lost their Interior design materials, Tattoo machines, Electronics, and Paintings because they had dreads and tattoos.
This story reminded me of the four men who were killed in Kitengela after being suspected of cattle theft. The four were heading to a housewarming, and they parked their motorbikes by the riverbank. The residents thought the men were out to steal their cattle and they speared the four men to death refusing to listen to them claiming their innocence.
In this time and age, it’s very sad to think that people are still judged based on how they look. We are usually the first to talk about “my dress, my choice,” but when it comes to “my lifestyle, my choice,” is where we draw the line. If today someone is attacked based on their skin tone, we are quick to react and call it assault. However, when it comes to other things such as dressing, hair, and artistic forms of expression, it’s easy to turn a blind eye. So, what exactly makes the difference between the two? Why does one act of violence deserve attention but not the other?
The worst part about such stories is that they raise attention when the victim is in a bad state or has died. As a society, it is important to start raising awareness about the assumptions we have about people. We also need to follow up on stories related to the assault. Most of the time, such stories are raised and buried almost instantly.
For years now, dreadlocks and tattoos have been associated with bad behaviour and untidiness. In work settings, you find yourself forced to change your hair simply because it is not considered “professional.” Why are unwritten laws considered so important in a world where we are advocating for people to be woke? When will we finally let go of colonization stereotypes and embrace people for who they are?
These are the questions we need to ask whenever such stories arise. We need to be able to do better as a society.
This article is part of a series on letting go of stereotypes. Check out