The people of rural Kenya have spoken of the night runners for generations. They’re said to be villagers possessed by a demonic spirit which compels them to scare and terrorise their neighbours at night. But no one really knows who the night runners are or what motivates them. For BBC Africa Eye, reporter Tom Odula investigates the enigma of the night runners, shining fresh light on the reality behind the myths, and revealing exclusive footage of night runners in action. Please be aware that there are disturbing images in this piece. -BBC
A night runner has confessed to deriving pleasure from scaring victims.
Speaking to BBC’s Tom Odula, Sam Otieno, a confessed night runner claimed to have inherited the practice from his deceased father.
“I found a small tin with three stones and soil inside next to the house.
“When I stepped over the tin, that’s when I started night running. My father had left it there for me before he died,” said Sam, who has been a night runner for nine years.
Night runner Recruiting wife
While the practice is believed to be passed down through the family, Sam’s wife, Grace got into it after he recruited her.
According to Grace, she feels unwell when she does not run.
“When I don’t run I feel sick so I have to run. When I come back (from night running) I feel comfortable,” confessed Grace.
Urge to run
According to the couple, they usually experience the urge to run after taking their dinner.
During one of her nocturnal rounds, Grace agreed to be filmed.
In the footage seen by SDE, Grace is seen rubbing a stick along the iron roof of a victim’s house. She then proceeds to knock and rattle on the door before throwing stones and lumps of soil on the roof; all this time making a guttural sound.
She is then seen jumping with joy as an elderly woman inside the house angrily inquires on who’s destroying her house.
Seen night running
Unfortunately, after featuring on the BBC documentary, Sam and his family were ordered out of the village.
“The people in the village decided that we should leave forever or they would burn us in our house.
“It has really brought us problems, so we decided it’s better to leave that place,” said Grace, who has since quit the practice and regularly visits a traditional healer who claims to have cured several night runners.
But according to Sam, he’s at a point of no return.
“I’m at a point where I cannot stop. It’s my job,” he said.