Troy Augustine, Regional Manager for Africa
7/6/15 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) - Samuel Kang'ethe bears the scars of a gunshot wound to the abdomen that he sustained one year ago when Islamist al-Shabaab militants assaulted his home village of Malamande, Kenya, murdering all of the grown men present and torching the town. On the night of July 5, 2014, Kang'ethe dragged himself to the nearest bush to hide, fearing for his life, bleeding from his abdomen after being shot and witnessing his father's murder.
"The gang of about 15 men knocked at our door and my father opened. He was pushed back into his bed, tied up and shot 6 times at the head and 2 times at the back," he remembers.
"They ordered my mother to get out and sit down. They piled clothes on my father and set him on fire. I escaped through the window but unfortunately, the gunmen spotted me and I was shot on my stomach. I dragged myself in to the bushes and made a call for help to the nearest police post. We did not get immediate help until morning when I was taken to the hospital,"
Remembering the Tragic Attack
Today, International Christian Concern (ICC) marks the tragic anniversary of al-Shabaab's attack on Malamade, a tiny village outside of Hindi town where militants murdered Christians who refused to convert to Islam.
At around 11 p.m., 15 gunmen started shooting throughout the village and killed 15 people, leaving nine widows and several children fatherless. Their main target was adult men whom al-Shabaab executed by either tying them up before shooting them or slashing their throats.
Those who managed to escape hid in the bush until morning, only to wake up homeless, their houses, church, and school burned while many of their friends and neighbors lay dead, murdered because of their faithfulness to Jesus.
Altogether, 20 houses were razed during the attack. The scene told several stories of Christians murdered for Christ, like Kenya Kazungu, who was shot in the back four times and his Bible piled onto his corpse.
"They coerced me to convert to Islam or else they burn the house, school and the church," the town's pastor Elizabeth Odipo told ICC's Kenya representative. "When I declined, they ordered me to take my 2 granddaughters out of the house after which they set ablaze the house and left. They proceeded to the primary school and burnt all the stationary and desks. When they were done with the school they went to the village church, spent 1 hour playing the drums, and later burnt it to ashes," Odipo said.
Even a year later, the villagers still bear the burden of the attack. Life has proved especially difficult for mothers and children who lost their husbands and fathers.
Salome's husband Stephen was brutally murdered that night. "Life has not been easy after the attack especially staying in a rented house, staying without food and staying away from our friends and neigbours," she said.
The townspeople have persevered through fear, hunger, sickness, and trauma, but their faith is left unshaken.
ICC is working with local partners to rebuild hope through home reconstruction for 15 families whose houses were burned down. Brothers and sisters in Christ have discovered new joy looking forward to God's provision of shelter and are returning to their farming and business activities.
"Our hope to return to our homes has been rekindled and we thank God for using the ICC in such an incredible way," said Eunice Njeri whose house is being rebuilt. "This is a new day that the Lord has made and we are extremely happy about owning new houses."
Before the attack, Malamande was a vibrant village with bustling crop trade and several small businesses operating, but the assault on the town changed that overnight. With Malamande rebuilt, the Christians there will be able to return to their farms and business and the local school will reopen.
"I am a happy man once again. I had lost hope in life after my house and shop were burnt down by al-Shabaab. But now I have a house and soon I will resume my retail shop," said Joseph Muchemi.
As we remember the attack one year later, the victims commemorate their deceased family members and friends and thank God for the help from brothers and sisters in Christ.