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How award-winning Kenyan author Yvonne Owuor was brutalized by ruthless Kanjo askaris

Kenya’s preeminent award winning author, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, was on Friday assaulted, her jacket ripped off, blouse torn and left her half naked in a shocking encounter with Nairobi County askaris outside the Lavington Mall.

The author of Dust also had her spectacles and phone stolen during the incident.

The Kenyan writer, who won the 2003 Caine Prize for African Writing for her story Weight of Whispers, blamed her attack on mistaken identity by the ruthless city askaris.

Yvonne happened to be standing by the roadside as the askaris attacked hawkers in the area.

She was arrested and taken to City Hall where she was hauled before a Magistrate and charged with trading/hawking, littering and dumping, assaulting an officer, resisting arrest and obstructing justice.

She was later released on a Sh40,000 cash bail after entering a plea of not guilty. She is due to appear in court on Monday.

In a series of tweets, a Twitter user by the name @zinduko, described how the author was humiliated by the askari’s who while arresting her did not even bother to identify themselves.


According to the tweets, Ms Owuor was waiting outside Lavington Mall when the inspectorate officers descended on the informal traders located the area.

She had no idea what was happening and in the confusion someone pushed her and got aggressive after she asked why people were being beaten.

At first, Yvonne says she thought she was being attacked by a gang, after the man was joined by other people in plainclothes.

“They grabbed her phone, knocked off her glasses. She was terrified and she thought she was being kidnapped. She fought for her life as they dragged her off,” a witness said.

Yvonne, the witness added, only came to learn of what was happening when she thrown inside a van used by the inspectorate officials during the raid.

Members of Kenya’s intellectual communities are now calling for solidarity with the author.

Zinduko said that they hoped to use the unfortunate incident to amplify the brutality of the so called ‘kanjo’ system’.

“Let’s use this case to do more than assist one person. Let’s use it to draw attention to the inhumanity of the ‘kanjo’ system and demand that Nairobi County follows the law in fulfilling its mandate brutality is unacceptable,” Zinduko’s tweet read.

Another user wrote: “It is disturbing and infuriating, Yvonne is such a lovely lovely person. Maybe this will also shed light on the injustices visited on random people who get caught in such situations.”