“He opened the bedroom door. Since he thought I was dead, he didn’t lock the door behind him. The next thing I heard was my daughter Praise shouting for help. She pleaded uuuui Daddy usituue..”This is the chilling and painful narration of a lady who saw her beloved husband reduce all their days of happy marriage to a night of horror. On today’s #InspirationThursday, we welcome Dianah Kamande Hsc to tell her story on what domestic violence can lead to.
I was born in Makongeni, Thika as a second born child to Mr. Peter Kamande Ndungu and Mrs Magdalene Nyokabi Kamande. We are four children 3 girls and one young man. Our parents had no stable income and they decided to move from Thika to Kaharo Village in Muranga County where they struggled to bring us up.
This time my mum was laboring in people’s farms and my Dad was going to Nairobi to hawk. He spent nights in people’s houses. He only needed a place to lay his tired body so that he could be able to work the next day. Schooling in one too many schools.
Life was unbearable especially during dry seasons and our parents (again) decided to move to Korogocho slum in Grogan. This was the place we called home since 1988-1992. I had started school in Kaharo and coming to Nairobi I went to St John’s for my ECD classes.
I was later transferred to Babadogo and eventually Ngunyumu Primary school. I was very clever at school and speaking about positions. I knew if I was not among the top 3 then that was a wasted term. I scooped almost all awards during the prize-giving day. I was a prefect since Early Childhood Education classes.
I passed KCPE exams, but school fees was an uphill task and because (of lack) of money, I ended up in the school that was under performing because it was cheap and affordable to my parents. My thirst for education made me bother my parents so much and Dad decided to go to Kaharo Secondary School near our home so that he could transfer me and my sister there.
My results were amazing and the Principal agreed to have me and my sister admitted there.At this time the best meal that my parents afforded to prepare for us during lunch was porridge but staying hungry was a norm to me and my sisters. Im a true example of a child brought up having one meal a day when we were lucky.
In our Korogocho, Grogan house it was easy to know what our neighbor had cooked for supper. The rats from our house (because it was next to a pit latrine), could carry left over ugali if any to our neighbors house and bring piece of bread or meat to our house. When mud house was better.
Our house was pinned polythene paper on the roof from inside to prevent rain water from leaking inside. We decorated our mud wall with old news papers.
I hate poverty with passion because of my past. In July 1992 we upgraded to a place known as Ngomongo. I was so happy moving from a mud house to a mabati house. This house was made using old mabati from drums (are they called drums?).
I never knew how much mud house was better until it rained for the first time. We harvested rain water from inside. The whole house was flooded. We put water in all sufurias.Life was difficult but my parents are earth Angels.
They kept telling us to get education and live better than them. I learnt this quote from my Dad before I started seeing it on stickers “The Purpose of Education is to Replace an Empty Mind with an Open One”. As children brought up in a Christian home, I prayed and Embraced the quote.
I wanted to know what is an empty mind and what is an open one.Today I understand this quote very well. My high school life was difficult. Though, Kaharo Secondary was a good school, I was always in and out of school because of school fees.
Despite being out of school often, the teachers had realized that I was hardworking, obedient and disciplined. I became a school prefect and later a headgirl. I was mentored by Mr Kungu and my predecessor Lilly Sam. God bless them for me.I still went home for fees balances but one thing I uphold in life to date is that I never loose focus.
Life may be very bitter at some point but in every tough thing I go through I look for God’s word to encourage me in that particular season. In school, I dwelt on I’m a head and not a tail. I was among the best performers again in my high school life.
I never missed a reward during prize giving day. One time I was awarded in 4 subjects, and I gave the money to my dad to go buy a pair of shoes. This is because he came to school on a completely torn shoe, but I didn’t mind because were it not for our education he could have bought another pair.
After my KCSE my parents were not able to take me to university or a better college as it was my dream. I spoke to my dad, he convinced me to go for teaching course. It was affordable for him and I could go for in service.
I got a teaching job as an Untrained Teacher for Ksh 800 salary a month. Married on first visit.
When I was about to graduate I met my Richard…..I used to call him Richy. So I met Richy, he was a matatu driver who introduced me to the words “I LOVE YOU” when on my way to college. He was a great man. I liked him.
He was tall, dark and handsome with pure white teeth . After dating he requested me to visit him. I was still naive and didn’t know clearly what could happen. So I went to his house confidently. After chatting, time was really spent.
I told him I wanted to go home. He told me to wait he was going to see me off in a few.It started getting dark and he was not willing to let me go. That is how I eventually became a visitor for 10 years. Yaani, I got married on first day of visiting.Marriage life was good. My husband had lied to me he owned the matatu, but after 2 weeks he was not able to buy me clothes.
I later realized he was just an employee. But I never knew it was good to ask questions in marriage especially when young so that you set things right. In 2004, we were blessed with our first born and we were very happy. Our plan was I go to university as he had promised to take me back to school.
One day he told me that his doctor had told him that we risked not having another baby in future if I continued with family planning. We were still young. I got worried. I never knew it was right to consult. I got into his trap and soon after I realized I was pregnant again with my second child.
I was worried but he asked me what was worrying me yet he was responsible? I kept quite. He was very responsible. He provided everything we needed. His children loved him. He took us out for fun and dinners. It was perfect life according to me because he never beat or threatened me.
I lied to myself I was the only woman in his life (until I got to know the truth 8 years later after his burial) The dark night.
In 2013 on a Friday of 19th, we had left for work together as we used to. He worked for one prominent person in our country and I worked with a private NGO. Our friend was a wedding the following day (20th April 2013). I was required to play critical roles to ensure its success.
I reminded my husband that I was to leave work earlier and go direct to church. I had to seek permission every time from him. I never found this strange but today I know such people who always want to know where you are, what is your next step is very insecure people.
I left work around 3pm and headed straight to church, spoke to my husband, and notified him that I was not at work. When I was done in the church I hurriedly started going home and my husband called me asking where I was and after telling him I was on my way home he asked why I didn’t tell him I was done. As usual, I apologized.
He asked me what I was preparing for dinner and told him it was rice and beans. He asked me to prepare for him ugali and fried meat instead. I went home and directly to the kitchen. My daughters were very happy and eagerly waiting for the wedding day the next morning because they were flower girls.
After dinner was ready I joined my daughters and my house help in the living room. We discussed a lot and chatted about the next day not knowing what the night had in store for us.In a few minutes, our gate was knocked. It was an unusual continuous knock. At first, I thought the police were looking for someone.
Secondly, I thought it was someone who had lost direction. When I got closer I saw it was my husband. He was not in his usual mood. He never said hello as he was used to. He sent the children away. I kept quite and saw him walk to the bedroom. We were taught the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
Hurriedly I went to the kitchen to warm his food. I invited him to the dining, he said “I don’t want your food” It was heartbreaking to my daughter’s when he sent them away for the second time. I covered his behavior when the children asked… I defended him by telling them Daddy might have had a bad day at work.
I started helping my house help fold the clothes that she was not ironing. My house help told me “Mama Praise I have seen Baba Praise taking all the keys including the spare keys” she saw it was not normal but I defended him. “This is his house he can do whatever he wants”.
My house help cautioned me again but I defended my husband as he walked out with all the keys. He locked the gate and left.We waited for him and when we became impatient I called him thrice. He never answered and so I left him a text message and went to sleep.Woken up by blood on her face
I went to bed and I was woken up by something that was very warm on the left side of my face, and unbearable pain. I thought thieves had broken into our house. My sixth sense told me to put on the lights using the bed switch because this “thief” was using his mobile phone torch to light the bedroom.
I was so shocked beyond words when I put on the light. It was my husband holding a Maasai sword that had blood already. My bedding had blood and one of my hands that I had used to touch my face. A life that was all good turned sour within the twinkle of an eye. My questions about what was wrong were answered using only one sentence, we are dying.
All of us in this house.My husband continued cutting me on the head (at the hospital is where they realized I was cut for 21 times). I decided to hide under the bed pretending I was dead. He called his mum, I heard everything he told her, ” Mama I have killed your daughter, I will kill your children and then kill myself. Prepare four graves.
Second phone call was to his employer he told her that he had killed me, he would kill the children and then himself. He asked her to offer his job opportunity to someone else. Final phone call that gave me chills and made the truth dawn on me was phone call to my Dad. They never used to joke.
He told my Dad “Mzee I have killed your daughter, I will kill the children then kill myself. My mum is preparing four graves prepare four coffins. Daddy Usituue
He opened the bedroom door. Since he thought I was dead, he didn’t lock the door behind him. The next thing I heard was my daughter Praise (who was 8 years and a few months that time) shouting for help.
She pleaded uuuui Daddy usituue…. I never took any second thought while at my hiding place. I decided I would rather die than my children. I went to their bedroom. My house help had gotten a spare key in my bag that I had forgotten in the dining room.
She had gone out and called my dad, brother, sisters, and other relatives. She had their contacts. All these times no neighbor took us seriously. The appearance in the public of the perfect couple was hitting their mind and they couldn’t imagine that beautiful couple that everyone desired to be like fighting.
Reaching into my daughter’s bedroom he was about to stab my firstborn daughter. He saw me he pointed me using the knife, “so you are not dead?” He shivered and appeared very angry. At this time my sister who had come from delivery through CS less than two weeks and her husband had arrived.
They never had a word with him they took the children who were so traumatized. They saw their Dad raising a knife ready to take away their lives. They saw me full of blood. They wept bitterly.
My brother in law carrying Praise told me to support your self on this wall we walk together outside, fearing for their lives too. I tried but I was held from behind and on my neck, no voice came out he was ready to take my life now. Thank God He is the giver of life.This time he wanted to cut me on my neck using the sword.
I blocked using my hand. He cut me on the hand several times. He pierced my right side breast. Within no time my brother-in-law had managed to come back with our neighbor who was a very good man. He was very courageous after my husband cut my brother in law on his hand.
This man refused to go and he was so tough. He told my husband to dare do anything again I will call a mob for you. My husband was very sure I was going to die. His final words were “Go die in the hospital, I will die here”. When I was being taken to the hospital a part of my hand was hanging down. I’m fitted with several metal plates.
I was rushed to a nearby clinic, was attended to, and given referral to KNH or another better hospital. I was attended at Gurunanak Hospital. The team of doctors did a good job. I was taken to the theatre by a neurosurgeon almost 7 hours under the knife.
I thank God I came out stronger with 5 foreign tubes because he had interfered with critical blood nerves in my head. After 2 weeks, I was taken to the theatre again for hand and breast surgery. It was the toughest time in my life when my children called and we all broke into tears.A million unanswered questions
I had million-plus unanswered questions on my hospital bed. I hated most the part people were asking me what transpired. I hated the hypocrisy I saw on the faces of some people that pretended like they wanted to help me.
I received endless phone calls and visitors who meant good and others to see my deformed face and head to gather news for the estate. My ears heard everything that a woman can hear under the sun. This time some of my relatives were asking for the keys to the house and when they could not get it breaking the house was the option.
I was in too much pain and no material possession under the sun worried me. I was ready to start life from scratch with my babies. When my discharge time came, my bills were too high. I thank God for earth angels he sent my way.
One of them was Late Ben Muchemi (Baba Ciru ) of safari rally. He contributed to single-handedly Ksh 525,000. We did fundraisers and had also one prominent person who heard my story and cleared my bill later on. Murder suspect
After discharge, I had a court case. I was the first suspect in my husband’s suicide case. He had cut his stomach and his intestines open into two parts. That’s what police and CID officers found at the scene of the crime. The police did a very good investigation job at that time.
I respect our officers in uniform, they work hard and sometimes they go without Asante from us. I would be in Lang’ata prison today if they did a shoddy job. One of my husband’s aunt really wanted me behind bars but God proved my innocence. Termination
Trials and temptations come loaded. I was sent a job termination letter. I cried. I needed my job so much but God had better plans in all this pain. Insults from neighbors were not something new to me. I had been reduced to the poor that everyone was giving example with me. Women formed circles and could laugh at me openly, backbite me openly.
When I was giving out my fundraising cards with a sling on my hand one lady told me “haiya uliacha kufunguliwa mlango wa gari sasa ni kuchangisha, waaaah sasa umebakisha kuchangisha za chakula” I was heart broken .
I cried bitterly and went back to my house. Thank God my fundraiser was well attended and God paid half of the remaining bill. Life was so hard, I watched my (second) daughter Precious 4 years then pretending to be role-playing and going to the black plastic trash bags using a toothpick and a container taking meat trashed by neighbors and eating it.
I warned her but deep inside my heart, I was not serious because it was the only available food for her. Neighbors had warned their children not to be seen with a murderer’s children. I was warned not to say hello to their husbands and some husbands warned their wives never to be seen with me.
Today I have walked a journey of love with 3 of them who have become widowed. I chose not to pay evil for evil because God sent me first to prepare the way. Husband’s warned wives against me but they could always show interest in me. I knew it was not loved. They wanted to misuse me.
I chose my dignity because poverty is never planted in anyone’s life. I knew my tomorrow would be better than today. They just wanted to lie to me.
I could put some off and they ended on social media tarnishing my name some could do photoshops but I chose silence. Some have asked for forgiveness and I know more are still on their way. A house without a wall
Once widowed, a woman becomes like a house without a wall. Anyone can throw trash in your life. Stand on that ground strongly and never trade your dignity for anything. To those still in Marriage know that we never chose widowhood.
It is not a career. One minute you have married the other one your title changes. Men treat your wife and children with dignity. Ensure you invest with your children in your mind.
Widowhood is a men’s issue too because if you die today with all your investments in your relative’s names, it is not your wife you are punishing but your children. Your children will lack good life and education just because you are a father who never thought about life after death.
No one wants to speak about death but I am here to remind you that death is real and it happens. My life’s journey fits into a series of books. I have learned a lot. I have overcome a lot because of God’s love. Today I don’t fear insults, I don’t fear negative publicity.
I stand on any publicity. I stand on every insult. I eat, drink, and laugh at all negativity. I don’t let negativity down my bloodstream. This life has also taught me to call things as they are. Never sugarcoat things in life. I was given a court order to move out of the old house almost after 2 years and it was a relief.
Thank God we were through counseling and prayers always. My faith in God was so grown, my personal relationship with God has been very good and I know this well. Heavenly Father has been gracious to us…..A place for healing
I chose to get a place to heal and I found none. I decided to start an organization for people like myself Come together Widows and Orphans Organization. It started growing very fast. God can use anything to make you sit on that decision-making table. God used this organization to introduce me to the right people.
I find my fulfillment in service to Widows, Survivors of Gender-Based Violence, and Orphans. This work has made me get platforms in and out of the country. It has made me shine and forget about my pain. God has changed my scars into my stars.
CTWOO today works with over 1Million widows across the country and we have (sponsored) 41 children in high schools. My daughters are now big girls, beautiful and you will never find very beautiful girls like mine anywhere in the world.
Very responsible girls. My firstborn is 16 years and my acting lastborn (yes, acting lastborn) is 12years respectively. We have walked a journey with God. He has always been our fourth man in the fire. The challenges that continue to date are many.
I can’t do anything difficult my hand has no strength. It is just like a dummy hand but unless I tell someone no one realizes. Most of the time if I tell someone to lift something up for me they think I’m bragging but I know myself very well.
I keep quiet sometimes for an answer. People think I ignore but I choose silence over arguments. I love women so much, I believe in women supporting women. I don’t fight a fellow woman. I have been fought before and I know how painful it is.
Finally, we realized my husband was mentally ill and he was not speaking to anyone. Dear men open up share please, a problem shared is half solved. Glorifying God that He has blessed me almost 8 years down the line.