Teacher: I’m visually impaired but ready to rewrite Baringo narrative

Mr. Thomas Kibet, visually impaired teacher from Baringo. PHOTO/Jeremiah Chamakany, The Scholar Media Africa.

The evolution of cattle rustling activities in Baringo is not about to stop.

Lately, cattle rustlers are rumored to own binoculars which they use to scan the landscape or carry out what the military refer to as reconnaissance.

From the hills which they use as their watch towers, they can spot a herd of cattle some miles far away.

This is how the modern day cattle rustler operates.

During the end of the years beginning 1970s, cattle rustlers ditched traditional spears and embraced the ‘metals that spit fire’.

A church leader in Baringo North, Chesire, reveals that the first guns that reached the hands of cattle rustlers within Baringo were known as ‘Konkonnet’.

Suspected boys from the East became so brave because of the white man’s weapon.

They owned and used guns during their raids and one day in the year 1978, they descended onto a Kaggir village in Bartabwa Division.

They turned it into a theater of gross human violations in Baringo North.

The same day, a small boy called Thomas Kibet became a victim of illegal guns in the Northern Rift.

“A bullet brushed through my eyes and that is how I lost my eyesight,’’ Kibet, now a CRE and English teacher at Kaggir Primary school said.

He was lucky that his bruised eye balls remained in their place.

The visually impaired teacher is keen to transform his community, and is refusing to leave the conflict zone.

He has survived about five attacks from cattle rustlers.

Kibet is a 1998 graduate of Asumbi Teachers College, an institution he joined after sitting his O Level examinations from Thika School for the Blind.

Kibet was unhappy that his village did not have a school.

Children would walk long distances to attend classes in Yatia and other schools.

That time after returning from college, he was serving as a PTA teacher in Marigat Integrated Primary School, earning himself a Ksh1500.00 monthly package.

“I was worried that illiteracy levels within my village would remain constant,” Kibet says.

“Development cannot be realized when a population cannot read and write.”

He says people who are stuck in ancient cultures and barbaric practices took away his precious eyes!

“If they were enlightened like the rest of the world, they may not have taken away my eyes.

“I don’t want my villagers to remain backward and be like them,” he says.

Kibet says that education brings a mental shift, a road to an enlightened society.

Elders within Kaggir warmed to his idea to launch Kaggir Primary School.

They agreed to donate some community land.

Thomas Kibet used his small salary to pay two untrained teachers to teach in the school before it got registered by the Government.

A class room was just a simple structure.

The Teachers Service Commission hired him in the year 2001.

His journey to establish the new school was not without a challenge.

During the tenure of President Mwai Kibaki, the government issued a policy through the Education Ministry, stopping any further registration of new schools.

“I decided to approach a Mr. Abduba, then a commissioner in Kabarnet. He was a real gentleman and he agreed to present my special request to the Government and my petition to register Kagir Primary school was granted without any further delay,” Kibet says.

“Our first candidates sat for KCPE in 2015 and I’m proud of that,’’ he said with a big smile, a smile that speaks of determination.

“I have survived countless attacks and I’m not ready to move out of this conflict zone. This is my home and I want to be the voice of change,” he said.

He revealed that his family and close friends have been beseeching him to leave the conflict zone.

Being a teacher, those who are close to him observe that a visually impaired man has little chances to survive in the most haunted regions of Baringo County.

His Kaggir home is an environment where skirmishes can occur anytime.

Baringo North residents are like wildebeests huddling together in fear.

They scatter in panic every time they mistaken a rattle of a dry leaf for a paw of a stalking lion.

Fresh cattle rustlers often visit this part of Baringo North for induction, and get a chance to see how those expectant mothers turn into instant sprinters just at the sound of those deafening AK47 gunshots.

Recently, when cattle rustlers visited Yatia, Kibet was the only one left standing after some AK 47 bullets were shot.

That is how cattle rustlers announce their attack.

They use the element of surprise and it is around here in 2017 in Natan village that they killed a fleeing woman and her three day old baby.

The armed criminals use surprise to detect and eliminate resistance.

These days, they just walk into a village and give orders.

“Everyone had gone into hiding and I was patiently waiting for a bullet to land on my body,’’ Kibet reveals.

One woman, Mercy Keitany, rushed to his rescue.

She held his hand and led him to a hiding place until the cloud of evil was gone.

“That close encounter with death has emboldened me to soldier on till a lasting solution on the problem of insecurity is found,’’ Kibet who also has a Diploma and a Degree from KISE and Moi University respectively said.

He believes that in a situation where many government workers resign or seek transfers from conflict zones, he in his part has chosen to lead by example.

”I love teaching not because of the salary,” he said.

The only thing that makes him love teaching is because every time he travels to a town like Marigat, many people approach and say to him in Kiswahili, “ahsante sana Mwalimu, wewe ulikua mwalimu wangu.”

“Meeting some of my old students and the excitement they have after seeing me is the best joy I can ever have in my heart,” he said.

He points out that patriotism is not the act of running away from problems, but the act of facing the problems head on, even at the cost of one’s life.

He is full of praise for the KDF soldiers in Somalia who at the cost of their blood, are ready to face the enemy and ensure peace at the boarders.

He is also proud and feels inspired by the story of the Mau Mau; who chose not to run away from the colonial oppression but faced the colonialist and ensured the statehood we all enjoy today.

He urged Baringo County professionals to ensure that they make whatever contribution they can to solve problems facing the county.

The problems include insecurity, hunger and floods.

“Baringo County is our home. Let’s not run away from our county but face the challenges we are facing,” Kibet said.

“Through Harambees, we managed to get education. Now its time to use our education to give back to the society that nurtured us under very difficult circumstances,” he said.

He appeared not to point an accusing finger at anybody in particular but he was most likely referring to those holed up in the diaspora and only visit Baringo to drum up support for certain politicians, bury their relatives or solve family disputes related to some inheritance.

Kibet said he was unhappy that many students from Baringo North may never get a chance to train as teachers.

He said that the Cplus grade now required for one to train as a Diploma Teacher is not easy to attain in conflict zones like Baringo.

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