BY MWAKERA MWAJEFA
The removal of Dawhida’s remains from their Bura Ndogo cemetery in Taveta Subcounty of Taita Taveta County to pave way for a commercial centre has sparked anger among the community living there.
The graveyard next to the Taveta Prison has been in existence from time in memorial for the Dawhida community tucked between Taveta Town and Njoro water springs.
Original from Bura in Mwatate Subcounty, the community descended to Taveta in the hope of getting employment from the large sisal estate farms while some turned into stone cutters for building purposes.
With such meagre resources, the residents found it very difficult to transport their dead for burial back home (Bura proper) and instead decided to find a place where they can bury their dead ones.
After becoming a formidable force with the politics of Taveta, the former councillor Edmond Mwawhughanga through the Taveta Town Council set aside funds to elevate the cemetery to modern standards. The council sunk a borehole and planted trees.
But under the member of County Assembly (MCA) Crispus M. Tondoo the cemetery was turned into a car wash, then a Public Baraza before bulldozers rolled in to clear the grave marks including the crosses.
A social and cultural activist Mwakio Ndau claims football has been played ‘on top of our kin’ and currently they are putting up a commercial centre to the chagrin of the Bura Ndogo community.
“I have visited the area several times over the issue and want the locals to set up a committee to resist this insult on our community,” he says.
He has volunteered to be a member of the committee and proposed those living in Nairobi, Mombasa, Wundanyi and Voi meet within their jurisdictions while immediate locals push for the abandonment of project.
Last year, Taveta Subcounty became a centre of interest when people whose countries participated in the First World War 1914-2018 converged there to celebrate its centenary.
This came in the wake of the first shot that signified the start of the war was fired on August 15, 1914 at the border town of Taveta by the acting district commissioner who shot it from the Taveta Police station killing a German soldier whose grave is in Taveta cemetery to date.
Being the historic battlefield of Tsavo WWI, Taveta, Maktau and Voi bear witness of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) where the foreign visitors paid homage to their fallen relatives.
In fact, two of the Taveta CWGC cemeteries commemorate the dead including the German war dead from the first few weeks of the war, Indian troops most of whom died of starvation, sickness and thirst rather than engaging in the battle.
This has turned the border town into a battlefield tourism destination that specialises in tour of battlefields and CWGC cemetery of European and Indians that are beautifully maintained for heritage and commemoration.