Puzzling tale of 'identical' girls reunited 19 years later

Melon Lutenyo (left) and Sharon Mathias. They believe they are sisters and that they were separated at birth. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]

On August 15, 1999, Rosemary Onyango went to Kakamega County Referral Hospital expecting to give birth to triplets.

She would, however, later be told that her caesarean delivery had brought forth twins, whom she named Melon and Mevies Imbaya.

Just two days earlier, another woman, Angeline Omina, had been at the same hospital where she gave birth to a girl whom she named Sharon.

The births that occurred nearly 20 years ago are now the subject of excitement in Fafaro village in Likuyani Constituency where two teenagers who believe they could be twin sisters have reunited.

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The emotional meeting between Sharon Mathias and Melon Lutenyo has set tongues wagging and two families seeking answers over the unusual event. Sharon is a spitting image of Melon.

The two girls, according to the families who spoke to The Standard yesterday, were born at Kakamega Provincial General Hospital (now Kakamega County Referral Hospital) in 1999.

It is a puzzling tale of Melon raised in Likuyani, Kakamega County, and Sharon in Kangemi, Nairobi.

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Triplets

Melon and Sharon are Form Four students at Friends Secondary School Kongoni and Shikoti Secondary School respectively. Both schools are in Kakamega County.

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Melon's mother, Rosemary, says she went to the health facility expecting to give birth to triplets on August 15, 1999, but would later be told that she got twins.

The twins were placed in an incubator for about a week due to low birth weight before Rosemary was discharged and returned to Fafaro with her babies, Melon and Mevies Imbaya.

Since then, Rosemary admits to having wondered why her twin daughters were not identical.

But matters took a surprising twist last year after Melon suspected she could have another sister after she and her schoolmates went to Shikoti secondary and students there wondered why she looked exactly like their schoolmate Sharon.

“When I went to Shikoti, students confronted me and started laughing. I was so afraid after they told me that I had a sister at their school. I told them I had a sister at Kimosin Girls and not Shikoti,” Melon explained in an interview with The Standard. They, however, did not meet that day.

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She said students at Shikoti didn’t believe that she was not Sharon.

In another incident, Melon's teachers went to Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology for a motivational talk. The event was also attended by Sharon, and the teachers were shocked to discover Melon’s look-alike.

“My class teacher returned and asked me whether I was a ghost. He said he saw me in Kakamega dressed in Shikoti Secondary School uniform,” Melon said.

Sharon said out of curiosity, she sent Facebook friend request to Melon and she accepted it.

“First, I thought someone had hacked my account because she looked exactly like me and even wore clothes similar to mine,” said Sharon.

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Ms Onyango explained that her daughter, Melon, came home during the April holiday with a photo of a girl who looked exactly like her. The mother dismissed Melon thinking the pictures were hers.

Melon and her sister Mevies, after meeting Sharon online, went to Nairobi one week ago to look for her in Kangemi.

Hugged and cried

The three teenagers left for Likuyani on Sunday night and arrived on Monday without the knowledge of Sharon’s mother.

“It was our first time to travel to Nairobi and we met in town. We hugged and cried uncontrollably. It was like there was a strong bond between us and that makes me believe that Sharon is my sister. We now want a DNA test done immediately to end the doubts,” Melon said.

Sharon said: “If a DNA test reveals that Rosemary is my mother then I would wish to stay with her but will not accept to be separated completely from my mother in Nairobi.”

Melon’s father, Richard Olukhaka, said he met Sharon in Kakamega as schools closed for the April holiday and thought he had seen his own daughter.

He wondered what his daughter was doing in Kakamega town wearing a different school uniform.

“I saw her (Sharon) at the Kitale matatu stage in Kakamega and when I called out her name (Melon) she declined to respond and accused me of attempting to kidnap her. I was shocked and called my wife who told me that Melon was at home and had in fact gone to Eldoret for a seminar,” Mr Olukhakha narrated.

He said his family is unable to pay for a DNA test.

“I went to Nairobi to see Sharon’s mother when I heard my twins had gone there. We talked and I decided to seek an opinion from the Children’s Department. I was advised to wait until they sat their KCSE exam,” he said.

Sharon’s mother Angeline Omina told The Standard on the phone from Kangemi where she lives that she is confident Sharon is her child and that the two girls were just look-alikes.

She said she gave birth to Sharon at Kakamega County Referral Hospital on August 13, 1999, and the baby was put in an incubator.

“I gave birth to Sharon. People must understand that people look alike,” she said.

She, however, said she was ready for a DNA test but said that the procedure should be done later in the year after the girls have completed their KCSE exam so as not to interfere with their preparations.

Mevies said she would continue staying with her family despite the planned DNA tests.

“I have grown with Melon and I have known her to be my sister. I love her and will always want to be close to her even if the DNA test shows I am not her sister,” she said amid sobs.

She urged her mother not to isolate her if the DNA results showed she was not her daughter.

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