Shortchanged? Woman rejects President Uhuru Kenyatta's gift

Damaris Wambui and her son Dennis Ngaruiya during a past interview in April 2018. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
On October 14, 2014, 13-year-old Dennis Ngaruiya recited a poem for President Uhuru Kenyatta.

What the then class seven pupil did not know was that his fortunes were about to change before he climbed down the dais during the Kenya Defence Forces day celebrations at 3KR Barracks in Lanet, Nakuru.

He had recited an electrifying poem titled “Our Father”.

It left the president in stitches and earned him and his family a visit to State House.

As I presented the poem I never thought it would touch the audience and most importantly the President. I was shocked after he called me to the dais and had a word with me. That remains one of most memorable times I have had” said Ngaruiya.

371 days later, the invitation to State House materialized during the 2015 Mashujaa Day. Ngaruiya and his mother Damaris Wambui were among other guests for attended State House luncheon.

“I can’t fully explain how I felt as we entered the residence. Then came the President who recalled me and shook my hand saying ahadi ni deni. He would later see us,” narrates Ngaruiya.

It was in the late afternoon that the President found an opportunity to sit down with the family, an opportunity they had been waiting for a year.

“The President asked me what I would like him to do for me. Since I am the sole breadwinner of four other children I asked him to offer my son a scholarship. That would have made it easier for me to handle the other needs,” said Wambui.

Wambui said that the President told him that he would educate her son to the highest level he could wish but asked her to give her own needs as well.

“That statement almost made me speechless. I told him that I had no home to call my own and a stable job to support my family,” said Wambui.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and Dennis Ngaruiya at State House, Nairobi on October 20, 2015. [File, Standard]
Dashed hopes

The family left State House full of hopes that they were soon moving to their own home in a few months. That spiralled into a long wait as the President’s aide kept dodging her calls until she gave up.

Four years later, it has now emerged that Wambui has rejected the house that was built for her.

Wambui, who in a 2018 interview with The Standard accused those who were assigned to handle the matter of taking her in circles and keeping her in darkness, claims the house she received was poorly built.

“This is a big joke. Look at this house. It has cracks on the outside and looks like a semi-permanent house while President Uhuru in his wisdom meant well for us as a family,” she said in an interview.

A picture of the house the family received in Bahati, Nakuru County as it was in May 2018. It currently has overgrown bushes around it. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
The mother of one alleges that the house is not newly built and was at some point offered money by the then Nakuru County Commissioner Joshua Nkanatha which she declined saying that it was not what she had been promised.

Joshua Nkanatha has since been transferred to Kajiado.

“The County Commissioner offered me Sh50,000 but I refused to take it as I thought it was a way of denying me the house. Since then he barred me from going to his office. I only heard through other people that the house was being constructed but they never showed it me,” said Wanjiru.

State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena however, says the house was built and furnished and only cutlery and mattresses are missing.

To date, Wanjiru is still living in a single room mud-walled house with her children for which she pays Sh1,200 every month. She survives by doing laundry, knitting sweaters and farm jobs in the neighbourhood hoping that the promise would come true one day.

The house Damaris Wambui and her son Dennis Ngaruiya currently lives in Lanet, Nakuru County. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
The promised scholarship for his son has been fulfilled, she says.

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Dennis NgaruiyaPresident Uhuru KenyattaDamaris Wambui