I was a young Pokot man nearly 40 years ago. In the late 70’s and early 80’s the missionaries came to my home and to my community. They wanted to tell me about this guy called Jesus to lived in a land far away. I listened to them and they told me that Jesus died for me.
Surprisingly, I did not know if I was being accused of stealing a camel or a bag of maize or did they want me to go to the funeral, as I tried to grapple with what they said they eventually told me that Jesus had risen from the dead. Relieved! I thanked Tororot (God) as I was afraid and thought that I was in some kind of trouble.
I took an interest to hear more about this man, Jesus. I asked them, “how did he die?” and rise from the dead a few days later. They told me that Jesus is the Son of Tororot, another shock, I understood from the wazee that Tororot only had two sons, Ilat & Asis.
In an effort to explain about Jesus they told about his passion, death and Resurrection. They told me a story that my community and I could identify with. The young man exclaimed that the Passion of Jesus Christ is the Passion of the Pokot, the only difference was the question of Resurrection.
The young man whose name was Adoket told his story. He was convinced that the story of the suffering Pokot and the story of the son of God could be merged. He said that the Passion of Jesus was rooted in the daily life of the Pokot.
Adoket went on to say that his community have survived many droughts, famine and disease and other calamities which threatened the existence of this illiterate community. But this present drought and famine is the Mother of All! The plight of the pastoralist, semi-nomadic Pokot who live in this hostile area continues to be ravaged by drought and famine. Adoket told the Missionaries that they will not give up on Tororot, that he will hear their cry.
Where is the help in this time of distress? Who is going to help us? Where are these guys with big cars? They said that they would help.
In the passion of the Pokot we stand accused of bringing about insecurity which has hampered the addressing of the present situation of drought and famine. The threat of a police operation has brought fear to our community. Relief food cannot access East Pokot to help us as drivers also travel in fear.
We feel betrayed by those who can help, we are abandoned. We are rejected and branded as we are bad. Apart from a few youth who steal animals, the whole innocent community is made to suffer.
We are mocked, alone and dying, we have no food and little water to drink, we don’t even have vinegar. Our Cross is too heavy our animals are nearly all gone. Our supper was meat, great what a treat! Then after a bout of diarrhea we quickly learned that this meat was from our milking cow that died as a result of this prolonged drought.
The Mother, the head of the house-hold, told me that this meat needed extra boiling but there was not enough water to make it safe.
Sitting outside our small grass hut, the hot sun had gone to rest. It was dark with good cloud cover, there was great hope of rain, as the night went on, the clouds moved off, may be to some place that the missionaries called Kenya.
The moon and the stars lit up the sky. The clouds carried away our hope. My children will not go to school because in the school there is no food and few teachers.
We are too weak for the journey that will bring us out of this hopeless situation to a brighter day. We fall many times through our weakness from no food and little water.
Jesus cannot let us down as his story is our story and his passion our passion.
We believe in the Resurrection, it’s all we have. In the Kingdom of Heaven nobody is rejected or marginalized.
By (Fr). David Conway.