Brian Bera, a Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) student, has been in the headlines for an infamous story of being shot after attempting to trespass the heavily guarded State House, while armed with a knife.
Nevertheless, not much has been known about this unusually bold character. Speaking to his peers and leaders on his campus, we got to discover much more about him.
Brian Bera is a sharp mind, an A-grade final year student pursuing a bachelor in mechanical engineering, who impressed his peers with creative projects and wide knowledge of affairs. As his final project, Brian was designing material for an aircraft application, a project his peers described as “innovative”.
His classmates nicknamed him “professor”, for he would defend all his arguments with valid references gained from the hours of research he would put in his free time. Neither could one debate anything with Bera about the Bible since he was a master himself, jetting out scriptures like a pro.
Last year in November, Brian returned from a year-long repeat academic year after failing one supplementary test, which automatically suspends a student for one year.
This time, something was different about him. Brian returned a negative person with an odd look of life. He also had very strong bizarre convictions and beliefs.
Dr Mutuku Muvengei, the Dean School of Mechanical, Manufacturers and Materials engineering at JKUAT, was among the first people that saw a peculiar narrative of Brian.
“Early this year I discovered that Brian was obsessed about illuminati topics. He would associate everything with demons. He would say the education system is demonic and seeking treatment is demonic and many other things,” Mutuku said.
In one WhatsApp message that Brian sent his classmates, he said, “I am dropping out of school. Schooling is torture and spiritually satanic. It drives me away from God.”
A classmate of Brian who did not want to disclose his name said Brian had planned to be a pastoralist after completing his engineering studies.
Brian’s father, David Bera, said his son was suffering from a mental disorder. Last year in February, he revealed that Brian was arrested at Naromoru after he was caught inside Mt Kenya National Park.
In an attempt to study Brian’s strange ideologies through social media, Mutuku discovered that Brian was an avid follower of Yellow Vest protests.
Yellow Vest is a grassroots, revolutionary, political movement for economic justice that began in France in 2018. The movement is motivated by rising fuel prices, a high cost of living among others
It claims that a disproportionate burden of the government’s tax reforms was falling on the working and middle classes, especially in rural and peri-urban areas.
One of his peers said that one time Brian went to the French embassy in an attempt to secure a visa to travel to France. He did not succeed.
One of his last posts on Facebook before launching the attack, Brian declared that he had written to President Uhuru Kenyatta to allow him and his “soldiers” whom he referred to as poor, oppressed, homeless people to live in the caves in Mt Elgon National Park, a land where his ancestors lived.
In the post, Brian states, “Luhyas, Luos, Kisiis, Kikuyu and British have occupied my land for too long. And they have oppressed me. Tell them to leave my land, all of them,”
Bera’s classmates also disclosed that he always claimed that he wished he could settle in Ethiopia and even nicknamed himself “prince of Ethiopia”.
In one of his many weird posts on Facebook, Bera stated, “I’d rather be a house boy slave in Amhara Ethiopia than be a ruler in Kenya.’’
He ranted while saying he was waging a war “to get money to go to the Gonder, Ethiopia”
“Let this message reach President Uhuru Kenyatta and his people who stole my land and my inheritance… Even if Uhuru makes me his deputy president, I will not accept…”
According to the assessment of the school counsellor who had a few sessions with Brian, they found out that the genesis of Brian’s stress stemmed from family issues.
The dean of the School of Mechanical Engineering disclosed that the school counselor had revealed that Brian wanted to kill his father.
“Brian kept on telling the cousellor that he would kill his father for selling his land inheritance. He said that his father sold his land to provide school fees, education which he no longer had interest in,” the dean said.
Speaking to Brian’s neighbours at Jehovah Shama apartments in Juja where he stayed, neighbours described him as a loner and weird person.
Ann Marie says, “whenever I saw him, he walked bowing his head down and folding his hands in front, he always kept to himself.”
Another neighbor says, “I never saw much of him. His door was always locked. One time he was at the tap and I said hi, but he never responded to me.”
Dr Bruno Mose, chairman for Mechanical Engineering at JKUAT, said that Brian chose to do a project alone instead of choosing a partner to work with.
“Brian did not have much interaction with people, even in class, you would find him sitting alone, he even carried out his project alone,” Dr Bruno said.
Loner, strong-willed, brilliant, untidy and a bit crazy are some of the attributes that his peers and leaders described him.