Two Kenyans abducted by Al-Shabaab militia released hale and hearty

By Moses Michira

Kenya: Two Kenyans abducted by Somali Al shaabab insurgents on January 11, 2012 have been released following successful negotiations spearheaded by border communities in the North Eastern Province.

The two, Edward Mule, a district officer in Burder division, and Fredrick Irungu Wainaina, registrar of persons, Wajir South district, have now rejoined their families and are in sound health.

The officers were abducted at Gerile AP border post in Wajir South district.

Efforts are being made to secure the release of other Kenyans still held captive by Al-Shaabab militiamen in Somalia.

And for the family of Mr Mule it has been a long and painful wait for their son, husband and father for the last two years.

His release, almost two years later, was a well-answered prayer. Mr Mule was abducted from his workstation in Wajir in January last year, with threats from the Somalia-based militia group exacerbating the wait.

Now, it’s all joy for his family who are planning a major reunion to celebrate his safe and sound return home.

“I will not spare any cent in celebrating my long-lost son, I want everybody to join in the celebrations,” said Mr Yule’s father at his home in Buru Buru estate, Nairobi, Tuesday evening.

News of Mr Mule’s release was broken via a text message sent by agents of the Al-Shabaab on Monday, which was sent to his father’s cell phone. It is also the number that the group has been using to contact his family back home with new demands or threats like ‘we are now killing your son’.

For the last 19 months, each day had been a fresh challenge for Mr Mule’s father, 55, who works as a manager at public pension scheme, the NSSF.

During the interview for this story, he showed us the diary he has kept since Mr Mule was kidnapped on January 11, last year, detailing every single step and interaction his family has had while the missing son was away.

He plans to share with his son his private notes, if only to show him how much the family has been distressed over his kidnapping.

His family had cried and prayed for their lost son, every single day, he adds. The family had even dedicated a whole day every week praying for the militiamen to be touched, not to harm or kill Mr Mule as they had always threatened.

“It is very tormenting for a dangerous group whose activities you hear about everyday telling you they will kill your own son,” said the father in the midst of joyous laughter.

Devastating silence

“It has been horror for my family,” he added, while explaining that sharing the newest threats and demands, when they came, with his wife and children was always the most difficult part.

Among the demands that the al Shabaab had placed on Mr Mule and the Kenyan government was that the Kenya’s Defense Forces be withdrawn from Somalia, and all prisoners serving time for piracy charges be freed.

“We always tried to explain that their demands were beyond the family but that only served to antagonise them,” he said.

The heartbreaking story of Mr Mule began on January 11, last year when The Standard reported that an attack had occurred in Wajir, and that four people had been killed, and two others abducted.

There were reports that Mr Mule and the other person had been spotted deep inside Somalia. They were hostages of the Al-Shabaab group.

The gang also released a video where the abducted Kenyans spoke to their families back at home, begging them to do anything possible to secure their release.

But that was going to be the only communication for a long time, precisely till March this year. The silence was devastating. In March, the group released another video where Mr Mule was strikingly looking ‘emaciated and thoroughly dehydrated’ according to his father.