Kenyan schoolchildren take over town

Outraged by a classmate's death, hundreds go on a "drunken rampage."

Published June 8, 2000 7:00PM (EDT)

It all started with a pencil. On Monday, a 9-year-old student of the James Gichuru School in Dandora, a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, dropped his pencil on the road near his school. When he bent down to pick it up, the speeding driver of a matatu -- a public minibus -- hit and killed the boy.

The child's classmates, incensed by their friend's death and the lack of speed bumps in the area, banded together with kids from other area schools and went on a "drunken rampage," according to a Reuters report.

The children, some as young as 5, looted shops, drank the contents of a beer wagon and set fire to the matatu that killed their peer. A schoolteacher told Reuters, "They just ran out of the classroom like crazy demons ... We managed to hold back some of the little ones, but the others, they went hitting people -- pah! -- and hitting cars -- pah!"

The prepubescent uprising went on for eight long hours, during which the furious kids barricaded roadways, hurled rocks at vehicles and effectively took over their town.

The teacher interviewed explained that the kids "really, really want speed bumps. That is why they got drunk and smashed things, to make a point. But nonetheless they are serious hooligans. They are like English football fans."

Though the report stated that details on injuries were not yet available, it did say that the driver and conductor of the matatu managed to escape the melee unscathed.

By J.A. Getzlaff

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