“The rare process and ceremony of mato oput is undertaken only in the case of intentional or accidental killing of an individual. The ceremony involves two clans bringing together the perpetrator and the victim in a quest for restoring social harmony. Mato oput begins by separating the affected clans, mediation to establish the ‘truth’ and payment of compensation according to by-laws. The final ritual, ‘drinking the bitter root’ is a day-long ceremony involving symbolic acts designed to reunite the clans” (Justice & Reconciliation Project (JRP) – Mato Oput Ceremony, 10.05.2010).
In November 2016, there was an unfortunate murder of Kenneth Akena. After that has followed a long process and an aftermath, which has not answered the needs for retribution after the killing of a innocent civilian. The ones suspected, Kanyamunyu brothers, Matthew and Joseph Kanyamunyu. Also, Matthews girlfriend Cynthia Munwangari.
This process have been going on for years with relief and no verdict. The accused have been left of the hook and the ones investigating have let it be. Therefore, the stories now unfolding. Is very telling.
That Matthew Kanyamunyu have asked for forgiveness to the Acholi Elders and Akena’s family. That shows remorse and also that he says the culprit. Which is very different story, then the ones peddled in 2016 to 2018. When they claimed to be innocent and not involved in the murder of Akena.
Now, Matthew has deliberately stated his guilt. Because, before the story was that the brothers damaged the car of Akena but didn’t kill him or shoot him. Alas, that story has to be altered now, as the man has plead guilty in from the Acholi Elders.
Even in February of 2020 in the Courts, Kanyamunyu claimed he was a good Samaritan to Akena and only quarrelled with him, because he scratched his Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. That story should also be dismissed now, as he did take the blame this week.
Its time to get closure here, even if Matthew and the brothers gives 10 cows to the family of Akena. The family of Akena will never get Kenneth back. He been dead and this has haunted Matthew. He tried to run away from the deed, but it never went away.
That’s why he 4 years later confesses to the family of the deceased and to the elders of Acholi. What is striking is that he could roam free and not face the consequences of his actions to this time. That Matthew had such suction and reach within the chambers of power. This is shown by the time that has lapsed without any verdict in Court. That it has been running, but no definite answer to it.
What is also striking is that the man pleaded not guilty right from the jump into earlier this year. Not like he haven’t tried to play this out and be totally cleared of the guilt. He has used the prolonged justice system and the mechanisms there to run away from charges and incarceration.
That he plead guilty now to Acholi elders is fine and dandy, it is an important event and that he takes accountability for his misdeeds. That he took the life of Akena and is responsible for his fate. That’s why he apologized. However, that is maybe enough for them, but is it enough for society?
Because, if the man is of the hook for kneeling and confessing, how cheap is life then? Especially, considering how long he defended himself and how long he pleaded “not guilty”. Just because he has a change of heart. He thinks this is enough. Give a few cows and ask for an apology. That is not answering for the crime committed but bonding himself out with a gesture and a smaller pay-off to the deceased family.
This is a traditional mediation ceremony, which was performed. The Mato Oput is important for the Acholi and their traditions. However, the man should answer in the courts of law. Where he has denied and denied the whole murder case. So, that it can have some legal remedy as well. He has now confessed and that should matter to the pending case and the unanswered legal retribution.
Because, if not… then Akena’s life was just worth 10 cows and could be traded away that easily. After years of denial. That shouldn’t be enough, especially the way the Kanyamunyu have played this case out in the public sphere. Peace.