Five decades ago, a book claimed that UFOs had killed an entire wedding party in Nyeri. It was a hoax.
The story goes something like this. In June 1954, an 11-year-old boy called Laili Thindu noticed searchlights atop Mount Kenya. He didn’t think much of it until a few days later when he was listening to a wedding rave happening in Kirimikuyu, a few kilometers away. Then everything went quiet.
Thindu woke up the next morning to learn “that all the dancers, all the children, all the livestock-the entire population of the village had been seared to death by terrible streams of light from glowing objects. It was not until Laili ventured to Nairobi to tell his story to someone who recognized the tale for what it really was “The annihilation of an African village by an UFO.”
If you’ve never heard this unbelievable story, it’s because it was made up and has only one source. It was first mentioned in a book titled “Flying Saucers are Hostile” by Brad Steiger in 1967. Today, it is one of the most quoted examples of why humans need to be afraid of aliens and UFOs but is corroborated by nothing but this book.
Steiger, born in 1936, is a prolific American writer on UFOs and the paranormal. His body of work spans six decades since his first articles on the paranormal were published in 1956. He has over 170 books in both fiction and nonfiction, although the line between the two is fuzzy in his works. Steiger is often loose with facts, so much so that he has been called “an unreliable source” who “endlessly cranks out books promoting paranormal claims.”
That alone should tell you this story is fiction, but there’s a reason why Steiger chose the year, although I am not sure how he found Kirimikuyu on the map (it is now a ward in Nyeri). Among UFOlogists, 1954 is one of several years that had a spike in UFO sightings. At least one source mentions that in October 1954 alone, there were 1, 150 reports worldwide. The “UFO Wave of 1954” is actually a thoroughly studied event. It’s not completely bullshit though.
In at least one instance in October 1954, the sighting of UFOs stopped a football match in Florence. The game between Florentina and Pistoiese was stopped after half time when spectators and players noticed a slow-moving cigar-like aircrafts moving above them. There were at least 10, 000 people in the stadium that day, and the multiple reports included an odd detail of ‘angel hair’, a wooly substance that was falling from the objects. The leading theory is that it was just a mass of migrating spiders and the ‘hair’ was in fact silk webs. As if that’s less scary.
Strictly speaking, an unidentified flying object (UFO) is anything in the sky that you can’t recognise. Most are quickly debunked for what they are: experimental crafts, weather balloons, and sometimes something as simple as clouds. The few that don’t survive fuel Ufology, which is mostly myths weaved into conspiracy theories and paranoia. At the top of this is the idea that extraterrestrial beings have been making visits to earth and kidnapping and killing people with abandon. As Steiger was trying to suggest with the book, flying saucers are not your friends. They killed an entire wedding party for no apparent reason, beyond perhaps their extraterrestrial loathing for human nuptials.
There have been multiple reports of UFO sightings in Kenya; here is one record of sightings since 1982. In October 2015, one report mentioned a triangular UFO above Nairobi. In 2016, two videos appeared online, apparently showing the same extraterrestrial vehicle in two different places. It was also a hoax.
My theory is that if there was a Red Wedding in Nyeri in 1954, then it was probably a British bombing raid in the middle of the Mau Mau war. It is more plausible that the entire story was made up and Laili, as his name suggests, was a figment of Steiger’s fertile imagination.
Read about another hoax involving a Kenyan woman who knew everything. Supposedly. [Link]
One story is good,
till Another is told.