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Alarm as more children are caught up in deadly lovers’ tiffs

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“What wrong did my son do to deserve such a death?”  a father asked as he watched the body of his 11-year-old son wheeled into a mortuary. The boy was a victim of a failed relationship between the mother and an estranged lover.

His death adds to the growing list of children paying the ultimate price due to fights between their parents.

Gideon Kang’ethe, Shanice Maua and Prince Michael are among the victims. And so are Claire Wanjira and Faith Wanjiru, both 10 years old.

On October 22, Mercy Gathoni (35), her daughter Claire Wanjira and Faith Wanjiru her niece, were found strangled in a shop at Jambo in Karatina Town.

Initial investigations by homicide detectives point at yet another case of children caught up in adult fights.

They were found lying on a bed each with a rope around their necks, an indication that they had been strangled to death.  Detectives placed their time of death at between 10am and 1pm.

Commotion

What has baffled both the residents and the police is that no one heard any commotion despite the fact that the scene where the murder was committed usually has heavy human traffic as it is along the busy Karatina-Nairobi highway.

READ ALSO:   Soldier held as lover, two children yet to be found

According to residents, Ms Gathoni was last seen at around 9am. It still remains unclear how a man, believed to be known to the victims, walked into the backroom of the shop and strangled them.

After noticing that the shopkeeper was not attending to customers, Ms Gathoni’s niece Faith was sent to check on them. She was also strangled.

The bodies, according to residents were found at around 1pm in a room behind a grocery shop by Gathoni’s sister, Ms Rahab Mugure, who had gone to look for her daughter who had overstayed after being sent to check on her aunt.

Love triangle

In yet another case of a love affair turned sour, an innocent boy’s life was cut short brutally after he was caught up in a love triangle he neither understood nor played part in.

He had been reported missing for a week.  Mr Charles Muriuki was identified as a prime suspect in what was then seen as abduction of the Kirigu School pupil.

For days, detectives interrogated him at the Karatina sub county police headquarters as he denied his involvement. Kangethe’s body was found decomposing in a grave in Mathira, Nyeri County.

Mr Muriuki is now facing murder charges, accused of killing Kang’ethe.

Shanice and Prince Michael were also killed following a bitter spat between their mother and former Kenya Defence Forces soldier Peter Mugure.

READ ALSO:   Soldier held as lover, two children yet to be found

by nation.co.ke


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Lifestyle

Lady accuses MP of assault

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A woman has accused Nakuru Town MP Samuel Arama of assaulting her.

Amanda Chesiyna, daughter to former deputy commissioner for lands Elisha Chebii, reported the matter at Kaptembwo Police Station.

The incident reportedly happened on Sunday when Chesiyna and Arama were involved in an altercation, which the woman recorded on a video clip shared on social media.

In the clip, Chesiyna is heard shouting as the MP tried to question her about a lorry she claimed was her father’s property illegally taken away.

She accuses the MP of intimidating her as she tried to seize the lorry with the help of two plainclothes officers. Arama denied the assault claims.


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How I made peace with a father I have never met

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Growing up, Mugo Kariithi watched as people around him honoured Fathers’ Day every third Sunday of June.

That, on the contrary, was a day that perennially lit burning embers into his seemingly never-ending search for identity.

“I had a father, but went out there looking for one,” he begins.

Four decades ago, Mugo’s mother learnt she was pregnant with him while in high school, prompting her to drop out.

With a baby to cater for and an education nipped in the bud, she left one-year-old Mugo with his maternal grandmother in Nyahururu and moved to Nairobi in search of a job.

“I started referring to my grandmother as ‘mom’ because she was the only parental figure I had. My grandfather was bitter and disappointed that his daughter had stopped schooling due to that pregnancy, so he kept away from me.”

When he was three, his mother plucked him out of his grandmother’s care and took him to Murang’a where she lived with a new husband. He was lumped into a new family setup, with a mother who was a total stranger, and a man he had no blood ties with.

“My mother and I had been detached from my earliest years, and whenever she visited I related to her as an aunt until the day I started living with her.”

For Mugo, being a stranger living among strangers was difficult as feelings of loneliness and isolation manifested in him.

He also came face to face with the bitter truth when relatives from his stepfather’s side made it clear that he was a foreigner in that compound.

“The problem was that I could not seek clarification from my mom because she was a very tough woman who brought me up military style. I was to obey without questioning.”

Mugo’s curiosity made him seek answers from step cousins, who informed him that he was named after his maternal grandfather because the man in his mother’s life was not the biological father.

“I had to strip my grandmother of the title ‘mom’ and learn how to redirect it to the correct mother. So many times, when someone asked about my mother I could not decide whether to front her or my grandmother.”

The presence of his stepfather did little to pacify the emptiness that dotted his life. He always felt that something was missing from his life, something the man he shared a roof with could not fill despite them trying to bond.

“My stepfather was, and still is, a wonderful man. The problem was that he was always busy and would sometimes be away for several months. That limited the interactions the two of us had.”

READ ALSO:   Soldier held as lover, two children yet to be found

Abandoned… again

 

While Mugo was still struggling to make sense of all the happenings around him, his step father was transferred to Nakuru and his mother, who had by this time given birth to his stepbrother, followed her husband.

This time he had not only been abandoned, but also left in charge of the house. Mugo would spend the day with step-cousins and eat from his step-grandparents’ house, but have to sleep alone in the stepfather’s house.

“Imagine a four-year-old being left to manage a house in a foreign compound. I was always terrified at night because the house would feel creepy and lonely.”

Mugo also noticed weird changes in his body.

“First, I started bedwetting, something that I had stopped while living with my grandmother, and it became a big problem that took me so many years to stop. I also developed bouts of nose bleeding out of nowhere.”

Fredrick Moenga Osoro, a Counselling Psychologist at the Kenya Institute of Business and Counselling Studies (KIBCo) reckons that the bed wetting is an anxiety symptom resulting from disorientation, change in life patterns, and extreme alertness.

Nose bleeding, on the other hand, is an outcome of trauma. The prolonged stress denies the child an opportunity to enjoy pleasurable activities that normally increase the release of endorphins, a neurochemical that inhibits pain and boosts immunity.

Knowing that he was a stepchild in the family magnified his desire for an identity. He felt lost; dumped in an unforgiving world by a man who, for some reason, remained a secret that those who knew guarded viciously.

With a gaping hole in his life, questions that had very few answers, and a search that was yielding little, Mugo found solace in books.

“I developed a strong love for story books, some bigger than someone my age would bother opening, because they offered me the company my heart missed.”

When he finished high school, he moved to Nanyuki for a much-needed getaway with his maternal aunt. While there, he applied for the position of drama teacher at a nearby school and was lucky to be offered the job.

“I was 17 then, just fresh from high school, but had to lie I was 22 so that they would not reject my proposal.”

For the first time in years, Mugo had broken tradition from being a perennial candidate for rejection. It is a feat that, as he would soon find out, cast a new ray of light on his lifelong mission.

“I developed a close bond with the main character in the drama we were working on, so much that she became, and still is, a good friend. Her name is Anne.”

READ ALSO:   Soldier held as lover, two children yet to be found

The aha moment

For the next 22 years, Mugo trudged the country like the Colossus, following hints that would turn into dead ends.

In 2016, Anne invited him to the burial of one of her family members, which opened his eyes to a world he had missed out on during his search. It also re-energized his desire to know the man who had fathered him.

“At the funeral, I learned that one of the cultural practices necessary when a woman gets married with a son was to get him adopted into the new home. This is done through a ceremony called miruru. This basically implies the child cuts links with the biological father’s family and officially becomes a son in the new home.”

He was also informed that a father’s blessings were very critical in the progression of a child.

According to the Kikuyu tradition, one is born with a special gift that becomes a career later in their life. This gift comes to fruition upon him being offered an identity and blessings by the father.

“Having been born outside wedlock, my grandfather was supposed to slaughter a goat to cleanse his home before marrying off my mother,” he explains.

That fresh information sent his emotions spiraling out of control as he wondered whether his life was messed because he had never received those fatherly blessings.

But from who? Now, the desire to meet his father became a matter of urgency.

“For the very first time, I stood up to my mother and told her that I was 36 heading to 40, therefore mature enough to be told the truth about my father. I was tired of her dismissing the issue since childhood.”

Seeing how determined Mugo was, she caved in and told him that his father’s name was Mwangi and he lived in Nyahururu. The rest of the details about him were scanty as she had been very young when the two dated.

Breakthrough

 

Armed with a name and location, Mugo found himself in a remote part of Nyahururu called Muthengera, where he asked around and was directed to one of his father’s friends.

“He took me into the house and brought out an old photo of my father holding me.”

That was the breakthrough Mugo had chased for decades. It quickly became a straw on which his hopes clutched on.

The excitement would, however, be short-lived when he got information that cast a dark shadow on what had seemed to be a turning point.

READ ALSO:   Soldier held as lover, two children yet to be found

“He told me that my father had died five years earlier,” he mutters.

With the father he had longed to meet six feet under, Mugo’s life crashed again. He had spent all the years hunting for blessings from a man who had died before doing so.

Amidst the gloom, however, Mugo learned that there was a ray of hope.

“I shouldn’t have spent all that energy and years looking for my biological dad. It was a simple case of culture, just that no one had told me about it.”

Mugo learnt that if the miruru ceremony had been held, he would not only have become his stepfather’s rightful son, but also opened doors for him to give blessings like a biological father would.

“I thought of my life and thought about the many single parents, children of single parents, children whose mothers get married with as is my case. I wondered how many are out there suffering without the knowledge that they are being held back by culture.”

Mugo has been married for 13 years and is a father of four boys. The marriage in itself is a symbol of breaking the yoke that had bound him for decades as he struggled to get into relationships.

“For a long time, I never dated for the fear of rejection. I never thought anyone would ever love me genuinely. On a positive note, the experience has made me a better parent who is always there for my children.”

Psychologist Osoro echoes Mugo’s sentiments, adding that when details about a child’s father are kept secret, low self-esteem, prolonged anxiety, and depressive moods check in.

Behavioral reactions to this include homosexuality, drug and substance abuse, as well as lack of interest in intimate relationships.

He proposes that parents and children who find themselves on wild goose chases over paternity take a step back and question whether there exists an easier way out.

They could, like Mugo, spend decades searching for a father when one is right under their noses.

“If I had managed to find my dad alive, I would have asked him why he never bothered about me for all those years, and if he ever wondered how I was growing up,” he concludes.

Mugo’s love for reading coupled with his experience gave birth to a published book in which he documents his story. Titled In Search of a Father, the book encourages others to tell their stories of significance in life.

by nation.africa


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My cruel marriage to politician’s son

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Like any other woman about to get married, Esther Kisaghu was eager to tie the knot with her soulmate. When she finally settled down with the son of a prominent politician, who retired in 1988, it was all bliss. In her mind, the Cinderella life was a reality.

But she was wrong. She soon realised that marriage life wasn’t the bed of roses she had envisioned.

“I started like any other girl who is happy to get married. But soon, things changed. I started experiencing domestic violence,” reveals Ms Kisaghu, who studied at Alliance Girls’ High School, before going abroad for further studies.

She joined Boston University in the United States for a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

“When I was in the middle of my studies, my fiancé requested me to come back for us to get married…

“I didn’t complete my studies. Two years after we got married, however, he changed. He started strangling me, but I kept quiet,” she says.

Ms Kisaghu, who got married at 27, later completed her Bachelor’s at African Nazarene University in Kenya.

“It does not matter what the victim does, as long as the perpetrator wants to beat his victim, it will happen. Nothing the victim does, will stop the violence — only if the abuser changes. He chose to beat me, emotionally and psychological tortured me — it was his choice. At the heart of abuse is power and control — the twisted behaviour to control and abuse the victim,” says Ms Kisaghu, who has since founded The Rose Foundation, which assists women undergoing abuse in marriage.

“His family was powerful when he was abusing me. He also abused substance. However, as an expert in domestic violence, I later realised that drunkenness does not cause violence. It merely exacerbates it. There is no causal link between being a drunk and violence. Violence is a choice,” she says.

When the mother of one realised she was going through suffering with her son, she thought of means to get out of the marriage after nine years of painful experience.

Wanted to stab me

However, it was hard to escape and she had to devise ways out.

“I was married to a powerful politician’s son. So, escaping to the US via the studies route was not easy at all, especially because I left with my son — a no, no, in African culture,” narrates Ms Kisaghu, who was born in Taita-Taveta County.

Nevertheless, she joined Boston University, again, to study Public Health – International Health at Master’s degree level. Her going for further studies in 2004, she says, was just an escape.

“My life was in danger. I used the opportunity… to keep safe in another country with my son.”

It was at the university that it dawned on her that domestic violence is preventable.

“During the four years of studies, I decided that I should come and assist people back at home.”

Indeed, when she was done, she returned to Kenya and opened a new chapter in her life by establishing The Rose Foundation in 2015.

Gender-Based Violence

Prior to that, she volunteered her services at the Gender-Based Violence Recovery Centre at Nairobi Women’s Hospital for six months.

“Many women in Kenya get killed when the husband follows them to their new life. It’s true that victims face death every day in violent marriages, but when leaving, a safety plan must be put in place.

At The Rose Foundation, we do domestic violence training, which includes safety planning,” says Ms Kisaghu, who spent 11 years trying to get a divorce because her husband kept interfering with the case.

Children are affected

Ms Kisaghu notes that many children are affected psychologically when they witness domestic violence in their homes.

She says that victims ought to realise that leaving a violent home is possible, “no matter how difficult it is.

“What is important is to do a safety plan,” says Ms Kisaghu who is also the author of The Triumph of My Life: Domestic Violence and Society’s Thundering Silence.

by nation


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