Monday, 6 May 2013

Wajir & the Lorian Swamp

Wajir was one of those Kenya frontier outposts during the days of Empire where the administration could keep an eye on the south west migration of the Somali clans. These days most of the north east of Kenya’s population are of Somali descent.

I first drove up to Wajir in the 1980’s for a camel management meeting. Even then security was an issue with roving bands of opportunistic shifta looking for easy pickings.

Wajir was in those days a scene straight out of the Old Testament with ancient mzee's slumped over donkeys moving slowly in the midday heat.

The old colonial fort - Wajir

Wajir was famous then for its wells where camels were brought to drink. The wells have a high level of suspended mica which can wreak havoc with ones innards when having a pee. It used to be known as Wajir clap with good reason.

Then one day the rains came unexpectedly early and the Lorian Swamp began to fill. The District Commissioners of old had created the fictional Wajir Yacht Club to amuse themselves in the endless miles of desert and scrub, but that journey back through the swamp remains just as vivid today. Digging out and pushing the land cruiser as the waters deepened, passing trucks stuck fast or abandoned and as far as you could see just fetid water. If you do travel this way just take a lesson from experience and check the weather forecast first.

The start of a terrible journey

The waters rising

The road to Isiolo

Those that did not make it


Some decided to swim for it

Then it got worse

The bow wave from the front of the Landcruiser

Finally on dry land and a promise never to try this again