Residents of a village in Kisii are living in fear of an unknown enemy who has inflicted their children with a strange ailment.

They are even afraid of talking about the strange attacks and are scared of praying, because they have been warned not to try it.

Seven children in the village have been afflicted, and exhibit strange symptoms bordering on epilepsy and hysteria, uttering incomprehensible words. The residents now believe they have been hit by evil spirits.

They claim to have been warned by unknown people through letters that if they pray or continue to discuss what is happening to their children, they will all die and their flesh eaten at an undisclosed "feasting point".

Mr Charles Ongeri's family is one of those that have come face to face with the mysterious phenomenon that has made the victims' families and friends give up hope of medical or spiritual help. They just hope that all will be well some day and that what has befallen them will come to an end just as mysteriously as it started.

At first, Mr Ongeri's 15-year-old daughter, Bathsheba Karari, seemed normal, casting doubts on whether she was one of the children who exhibit the strange symptoms.


Karari said she usually feels exhausted and is racked by headaches.

"I usually feel a headache then after that I just feel drained of all energy, but I don't know what happens after that. I usually find a group of people gathered around me," she said.

Just then, her eyes started moving in an uncoordinated manner. She kicked the sandals off her feet. Worry was written over her parents faces as they followed her towards the house.

Her two sisters and two other women followed and took strategic positions around Karari. She tried to jump but they held her back. Even as they pinned her down, it was evident that they were using a lot of their energy to control her.

"If she is not restrained, she jumps over the fence, runs around the village and is very destructive. Our greatest fear is that she might fall into a fire, river or latrine or provoke somebody who does not know about her condition," her worried father said.

Whenever she is seized by the attacks, she becomes hyper-active and it takes five people to control her violent movements. After the struggle, she starts experiencing fits, kicking and rolling on the ground, breathing heavily, before gradually going into a deep sleep.

When she wakes, she has difficulty understanding why she is dirty or why there are people around her. She then rushes to the kitchen and starts cleaning dishes.

But that is not all that Mr Ongeri, a peasant farmer, has to contend with. He also has to look after his two disabled children. One of them, his 18-year-old son, Elijah Karari, injured his backbone and was paralysed. He now depends entirely on his father.

When the seven children in the area started exhibiting the strange symptoms, their parents thought they had caught highlands malaria. But medical tests turned negative and no serious illness was diagnosed.

"My daughter is the only one who was diagnosed with small traces of malaria in the blood. The rest of the children were said to be okay. At that point, I felt helpless," said Mr Ongeri.

At the local school, the condition has caused a crisis and some teachers have reportedly asked for transfers, fearing for their safety.

It all started one morning when teachers and pupils found a dead frog at the door of the Standard Six classroom. The teachers told the pupils to throw it in a latrine. After two days, they found the skeleton of a bird on the same spot. Again the pupils were ordered to dump it in the latrine.

After another two days, they found another bird, this time still oozing fresh blood. Not much thought was given to it. It was dumped in the usual way.

The next day, they found a letter in the same spot, written in Kigusii. It read in part: "We have been watching you interfering with our things. This is to inform you to keep off or face the consequences of your actions".

One parent also received a similar letter instructing him to give Sh9 million, failure to which he should transfer his child from the school or she would die.

The letters triggered panic. A local priest was asked to cleanse the school of ghosts. He came, prayed and left with the faith that all would be well.