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MY STORY: Why I never shed a tear when my father died

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Mercy Kamonjo, 22, had an abusive childhood. Her journey to healing from the trauma was not easy, but she finally unburdened her heart. She narrates her story to Bett Kinyatti.

“I didn’t shed a tear on the day we buried my father. I was 14, waiting to join high school. My elder brother was 18, our youngest three.

Mum shed hot painful tears as my father’s casket was lowered into the ground. I’ll never forget how much she cried—I think she cried for an entire week after the burial.

My father had been an alcoholic for years. Our home was on a lush farm in Molo, Nakuru County. Mum was a subsistence farmer, and my father a businessman.

He’d drink in Molo town then come home at night singing loudly and name-calling people along the way. We would all be so frightened every time we heard him approaching home. Often times, he would physically abuse my mother.

I don’t remember when the abuse started, but I remember an episode when I was about eight years old. We were seated around the dining room table when he locked the crook of his arm around my mother’s neck, strangling her.

She was gasped for air, struggling to release his grip. She motioned with her eyes and pointed to the knife in the kitchen, mouthed for me to get it for her. But I didn’t. I was too frightened. I figured he’d kill her instead.

The abuse turned my mum into a bitter woman. In turn, she started abusing my brother and I. She’d yell and throw things at us, even sufurias. Anything petty would spark off her anger. She beat us ruthlessly often times.

There were several nights we left home to spend the night at one of my aunt’s place. Some days we’d return home the next morning, while other times we’d stay for a week or even longer. The longest we stayed away from home was for two years—from 2004 to 2006—when we lived with my cousins.

I didn’t have friends from school, and one of my cousins became my closest friend. It’s here that I realised our life at home wasn’t normal.

There was peace at my aunt’s home. And a lot of love. My cousins could hold a real conversation with my aunt, and she’d listen to them and respect their opinions. I had never had a conversation with my mother.

The first time I did was out of frustration, when I asked her why we had to go back to living at home with my father. She told me that those were adult issues and I wouldn’t understand.

My father was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 2007. He changed—he got born again, quit drinking, spent his evenings at home and became the father we had always wanted.

All his money went to hospital bills. We were just beginning to enjoy his loving presence when he passed away. I accepted his death.

I had the sense of maturity to realise he was gone, and that we had to move on with our lives. But I was also overburdened with bitterness and hatred. I suppose that’s why I didn’t shed tears on the day we buried him.

My aunt sponsored me to high school. I worked hard and excelled; and my dream was to become a journalist. I also got born again.

I unburdened my heart. I forgave my father for the painful childhood he’d subjected my brothers and I. I forgave my mother for making me feel unwanted; I had even written her a letter once asking if I was really her child or I had been adopted.

I also began to warm up to men, whom I had hated all my life. I moved to a new school in my third year and for some reason was elected the captain of the environmental club. It was probably God’s working. My passion for conservation was birthed. It was remarkable—I had such clarity of the subject.

I joined Kenyatta University in 2015 for a degree in environmental resource conversation. On my birthday—April 3, 2018—I founded an organisation called Kuza Generation Initiative.

It’s a youth-led organisation that teaches teens and primary-school kids about conservation initiatives such as planting trees. Mostly, we mentor them emotionally, spiritually and professionally. We talk to them about their career decisions, spiritual and personal growth, handling peer pressure, mental health …. we mould them holistically.

We’re a team of 70, our head mentor is Douglas Wando. We’ve adopted six schools in Nairobi so far, and reached out to over 3,000 youth.

It’s difficult to measure our impact just yet, but I see it in small ways. One principal of a school of a boy we’ve adopted said the level of discipline had gone up since Kuza began mentoring the students.

I wouldn’t have started Kuza if I hadn’t gone through what I did in my childhood. Kuza is what the lonely, bitter and confused 16-year-old Mercy would have wanted to guide her life.”

Source: Saturday Nation

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VIDEO: Foreigners outsmart Immigration

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Two foreigners who were in January charged at a Mombasa court for stripping a Kenyan woman and taking her pictures and videos against her will, silently sneaked out of the country without attracting the attention of Immigration officials.

On Monday the duo, Zerbin Sascha Waldermar (a German) and Wectabe Shestavetskyi (a Ukrainian) failed to appear in court to answer to the charges levelled against them. A warrant of arrest was immediately issued.

They are facing charges of stripping and taking pictures and videos of the woman at the Kenya Medical Association Apartments in Mtwapa, Kilifi County in January this year.

However, the Nairobi News has established that Mr Sascha had written a letter to the Shanzu court explaining that he had abruptly left the country for Germany to “visit his ailing mother.”

“I apologise for not being able to be present at this second hearing date of April 15. Unfortunately, I have travelled to see my mother who lives in Frankfurt, Germany after she was diagnosed with a terminal illness and had to seek treatment,” reads the letter in part.

He says that he was still fully motivated to attend all future court dates in pursuit of justice with the aim of clearing his name. The foreigner asked the court not to forfeit his bail but allow the case to be reopened once he gets back to the country.

Mr Sascha indicated that he “will be in a position to return in the early dates of November 2019.”

BAFFLING

What is baffling is that Mr Sascha and Mr Shestavetskyi had deposited their passports with the court in Mombasa. So how did they travel? Investigations by the Sunday Nation indicate that Mr Sascha left Kenya on April 5.

“He went to their (German) embassy in Nairobi and was issued with a pass that only allowed him to go to Germany,” said our source, who spoke in confidence.

The German embassy did not want to speak about the matter citing data protection and confidentiality laws.

“Due to data protection and confidentiality laws, the German Embassy is unable to comment on the submitted questions. With regard to your questions about the departure of persons from Kenya and the handling of arrest warrants, we would like to refer you to the respective Kenyan authorities,” the embassy told the Nairobi News.

The Nairobi News has also established that the two foreigners had since fallen out after Mr Shestavetskyi left the country without his friend’s (Mr Sascha) knowledge.

It is not clear how and the day Mr Shestavetskyi left the country yet the police have also been holding his passport.

However, a source told the Sunday Nation that he holds two passports ever since he came to the country and only surrendered one to authorities when he was arrested by the police in Mombasa.

When we contacted the Ukranian embassy on the matter, it asked for more time to respond to our questions.

EMBASSY OFFICIAL

“I will need more time, maybe a couple of days so that I can get back to you,” said Mr Artem Makarov, an embassy official.

The Ukranian Embassy through its third Secretary for consular Issues Mr Makarov Artem said that the police had said that Mr Shestavetskyi had left Kenya by bus through the Kenya- Tanzanian border.

However, it said that it did not have any more details of when and how he left Kenya and that efforts to get into contacts with him had proved futile.

“Since Mr Shestavetskyi had not contacted us, the Embassy of Ukraine asked the Police to inform the suspect that a counselor support could be provided to him if needed, however no response was received,” he said.

He further revealed that efforts to work together with the ministry of Foreign affairs proved futile as it has never answered its enquiry over the suspect.

By the time of going to press the Kenyan Immigration department had not responded to our inquiries.

MARKETING COMPANY

Back to Mr Sascha, five days after he arrived in Berlin, the Nairobi News has established that he contacted a marketing company in Kenya with the aim of advertising the sale of his household goods that are currently in a one-bedroom apartment in Roysambu, Nairobi, where he lived.

He was then asked to pay an advertising fee via a local mobile money platform, which he said he was unable to because he was abroad.

Instead, he used his Kenyan female friend, a medical student in Nairobi, to make the payments.

The payments were then made on April 12 and Mr Sascha given a nod to advertise his items on the company’s Facebook account.

In the post, which has since been pulled down, he claims that he had to go back to the “US” earlier than anticipated hence the reason for disposing off his items.

The items he put on sale were delivered to him on February 22, by a local online company that engages in business and delivers items for its customers.

It did not take long before hawk-eyed Kenyans, who saw the posts, questioned the motive behind the selling of the items since Mr Sascha was still facing a court case.

Nairobi News

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Police arrest five in ATMs heist

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Detectives have narrowed down investigations into the Barclays Bank of Kenya Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) theft ring to a technical team and cash loaders, who attended the three installations immediately before the heist was reported.

The detectives are also disputing the Shi 1.5 million figure given by the bank as the amount lost and believe it could be more.

The Banking Fraud Investigation Unit (BFIU) and a team from the Serious Crime Unit believe the theft that included dismantling of security surveillance systems was well coordinated with likely collusion between internal and external players.

The officers also believe that money meant for at least two ATMs may not have been loaded into the machines by those assigned to reload them.

By yesterday evening, five people had been arrested in connection with the heist.

The bank’s technical team assigned to the machines in question,cash loaders and the private security guards at the scenes of crime are now lined up for interrogation at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters today morning.

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Investigators are puzzled by the huge withdrawal of Shi 1.5 million, which points to possible manipulation of security safeguards of the cash machine at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), Mutindwa in Buruburu, Mater Hospital and at Kenya Cinema within Nairobi Central Business District.

But More puzzling is the fact that the alleged theft at Kenya Cinema is yet to be reported at Central Police Station.

Central police sub-county police commander Robinson Thuku said they were yet to receive any report about the theft despite the area falling under his jurisdiction.

Detectives are also seeking to establish if the alleged amounts were actually loaded in the ATMs before the reported robberies occurred.

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Peter Mbugua ties knot again, 8 years after Wambui’s death

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When wedding photos of Peter Mbugua looking dashing in a brown suit emerged, he made headlines, not for the glamour, but because the 25-year-old had married a 67-year-old widow. The widow happened to be Ms Virginia Wambui Otieno. The marriage was criticised by many, but also defended by others.

Then just 25 years old and naive, Mr Mbugua had defied the norm in African culture and married a woman 42 years his senior in a civil wedding. They later had a church wedding in 2011. The controversial freedom fighter died on August 30, 2011. and was buried at the family farm in Upper Matasia in Ngong, marking the end of the marriage.

But yesterday, Mr Mbugua was celebrated as he walked a young woman down the aisle in a colourful church wedding. He tied the knot for the second time at Archbishop Harrison Ng’ang’a’s Christian Foundation Fellowship Church (CFF) in a mass wedding.

And yesterday, unlike his wedding in 2003, Mr Mbugua, now 45, was this time in church to solemnise his marriage to the mother of his three children, who is 10 years his junior.

Wearing a dark blue suit, a white shirt, a floral tie and a pair of black shoes, he walked majestically into the church, at 9am, hand in hand with his spouse, Ms Anne Wangari Njuguna, who was dressed in a cream wedding dress.

They walked, their faces beaming as they kept glancing at each other.

Standing at slightly over five feet tall and having added some weight, the shy man has adopted a new attitude to life.

Mr Mbugua and Ms Njuguna were among the 40 couples who took their marriage vows in a mass wedding organised by CFF church.

In an exclusive interview with the Nation, Mr Mbugua intimated that his first marriage was marred with controversy, especially after his wife died. Although the marriage had its ups and down, he says, their age difference did not bother him.

Mr Mbugua said before the dust had settled, he was embroiled in a property tussle with his stepdaughters.

He was kicked out of the Matasia home, and forced to move to Kitengela to make a fresh start. His life journey became bumpy and lonely.

“When my wife, Wambui, died, I felt as if a part of me had gone with her. Little did I know that the battle had just begun. I was being fought from all directions by my stepdaughters, so I had to maintain a low profile, away from the Matasia home, for

the situation to cool down.

‘‘But our marriage certificate protected me and shielded me from being disinherited. That was one phase of my life and I have never regretted,” said Mr Mbugua. He said he has never visited his late wife’s graves and has moved on.

Although his life was bumpy and lonely after his first wife died, Mbugua has found love, and has two sons and a daughter with Ms Njuguna. Mr Mbugua, who now operates a glass merchant shop in Isinya town, has since shed off his youthful look.

“The law allows me to remarry after the death of my spouse. The first marriage certificate is not longer binding,” he said at the CFF church, occasionally looking at his wife.

Sometimes he appeared in deep thought, his eyes misting over with tears as if he was reflecting on some painful memories. Bishop Ng’ang’a, in his witty style of preaching, did not disappoint, urging the newly-weds to show tolerance for each other and to respect the tenets of marriage.

“Marriage must be respected as stipulated in the Bible. A man is allowed to have only one wife and can remarry only if he is a widower. All couples who have renewed their vows today must be transparent and respect each other,” he said after the couples took their marriage vows.

Mr Mbugua revealed that, since he remarried, he had been toying around with the idea of solemnising his marriage so when the church floated the idea of a mass wedding, he seized the opportunity.

‘’Life has taught me how I can secure my family in case of any eventuality. The young generation fears weddings, not knowing the danger they are courting.

‘‘It is God’s idea that a man and his wife should solemnise their marriage. My wife and relatives have been supportive, aware that the past has nothing to do with the future,” he said.

His wife said she has no problem with his first marriage and declared undying love for him, describing their love as “unimaginable’’.

Speaking to the Nation, some of Mr Mbugua’s relatives who attended the wedding said they were happy their son had married a young woman who had borne him children.They hold no grudges and want the past forgotten.

That the couple was happy was evident as they walked from the church to join a waiting small convoy headed for Kitengela.

After the church service, visitors and relatives were treated to a grand reception at the family’s Milimani home in Kitengela.

His late wife’s relatives did not attend the wedding.

source:nation.co.ke

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