The riddle of Kakamega twins: Destiny or coincidence?

Melon Lutenyo and Sharon Mathias smiling at each other. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]
On Thursday morning, KTN aired what would probably be the most powerful live interview of the year from the homestead of Richard Olukhakha and his wife Rosemary Onyango at Furfural Village, Likuyani Sub County in Kakamega.

The agricultural village got its name from a chemical extracted from maize cobs and other forms of agricultural waste.  Locals pronounce it as Fafaro.

The interview was hot on the heels of the buzz around the mystery of the two identical girls, Sharon Mathias and Melon Lutenyo, (most likely twins) who have been separated for 19 years.

The emerging mix of coincidence and fact is such that one can only, pending a definitive DNA finding to the contrary, conclude they are twins.

SEE ALSO :Stranger than fiction: Parents in Kakamega twins puzzle speak out

On camera and in identical dresses and hairstyles, the girls narrated their tortuous journey that would eventually bring them together.

Destiny?

When Sharon Mathias was done with her primary education in Nairobi, attaining 317 marks, Angeline Omina, the woman she has known as her mother for two decades, made it clear that her secondary education would not be in Nairobi and so it was Shikoti Girls in Kakamega County.

“My mother never wanted me to school in Nairobi because she wanted me to achieve my dreams. I wondered why because many had schooled there and achieved their dreams. Nevertheless, I chose Shikoti Girls in Kakamega.

But the admission was not going to be easy. The school secretary told me I was from Nairobi and I was bound to waste my parent’s money.

SEE ALSO :Emotional scenes as mothers in twin saga meet

 I insisted on why I wanted to be part of the school till they finally gave in and admitted me.” Sharon told KTN.

Schooling

For Melon Lutenyo after scoring 313 marks, her secondary education had its fair share of ups and downs. She never adapted to a boarding school life. She gave up on it and joined a day secondary school.

“I went to a primary school in Kakamega County and attained 313marks. I was admitted to a school in Marakwet in form one.

After one term I didn’t like the school and asked my dad to transfer me. My dad took me to Melvis School in Cherangany. I schooled there until form two third term and I told my father that boarding school was not my taste.

SEE ALSO :Switched at birth? Story of 1,894 children across globe

 My father then suggested I join Shikoti girls but I refused because I never wanted boarding school.

He later told me to choose the school of my choice and I decided to join Friends Secondary School Kongoni,” she narrates. Had she joined Shikoti Girls, she would have joined her double.

It is after Melon joined Kongoni Secondary School that the journey of meeting her very possible twin sister began.

 After academic outings classmates and teachers who met any of them could not understand how their student and classmate belonged to the other school.

FROM LEFT - Sharon Mathias, Richard Olukhakha (father), Mevis Imbaya, Rosemary Onyango (Mother) and Melon Lutenyo pose for a photo at their Furfural home in Likuyani, Kakamega County. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]
Twin sister

SEE ALSO :Kakamega twins make case for forensic lab

“After I went back to school, having joined music and drama club, we went for school competition at Chavakali Boys. Students from her school, Shikoti Girls, came and asked me if I had a twin sister.

I said yes because I know I have a twin sister by the name Mevies. But they were so fascinated with me and wanted to be close to me. I was shocked they were talking of Sharon yet my twin sister was Mevies.

They insisted we are a look-a-like, something I disputed because we are not identical with my twin sister. Mevies is brown and short, while I am dark and tall. But they insisted we do everything in the same manner from talking, laughing and walking. I was shocked what are they talking about?

I avoided them that day. The following day they came back, the competition was going on still, and they requested for phone contact and a picture together, saying it was a request from Sharon Matthias who wanted to confirm the allegations.

 I agreed to give them my number, not a photo because I don’t take pictures with strangers,” Melon narrates.

Confusion sets in

After Melon refused to share his contact and the picture, both of them went on with their lives unbothered. But that could not last for long.

During a science competition at Bulimbo Girls Secondary School in Bungoma County, the matter resurrected.

According to Melon: “This year we (Kongoni Secondary School) performed very well in a science competition and proceeded to the county level. My class teacher was among the teachers in charge of the students going to the competition.

At that time, I was sick and I did not go to school.  But the teacher met Sharon and thought it was me.

In fact, they called her Melon. The teachers asked Sharon why all that time she had pretended to be sick yet she had transferred to another school and they could have easily provided a transfer letter if she wanted.

To their dismay, Sharon was shocked and wondered what the teacher was talking about. She denied knowledge of Melon.”

Seeking answers

Though Melon’s teacher insisted, the confusion prompted her to seek answers owing to the fact that her classmates had, before, talked of a look-a-like.

Sharon says: “When I met her teachers at Bulimbo girls, they were surprised and told me what Melon had said of the meeting.

 I decided to tell them to take a picture with me so that they can take it to Melon plus my contacts because she had refused to do so earlier”.

After a picture with the teachers and exchanging of pleasantries, she gave the teacher her Facebook and phone contacts. That is where a disturbing and emotional journey of seeking answers began for Melon.

“When the teacher brought the picture to me, she placed it before me and asked me do you know this person? I told her, how can I fail to know myself? (seems she didn’t focus on the uniform) The teacher asked again, are you sure this is you? (She now sees the uniform) I told him this is not my uniform but it is me.

 After insisting it was me, the teacher opened up and said the person in the picture was not me but Sharon Mathias from Shikoti Girls.

FROM LEFT - Melon Lutenyo, Sharon Mathias and Mevis Imbaya at their Furfural home in Likuyani, Kakamega County.
Unbelievable

 I could not believe it. It dawned on me that I have heard of this confusion before and began searching for answers,” Melon told KTN.

Who else then, could provide a better answer other than her mother, Rosemary Onyango?

“I went home and showed my mother the picture. I asked her who the person was in the picture. My mother answered it was me. I tried convincing her it wasn’t me in vain. She said she was smart enough to recognise the image was photoshopped.  I took the photo and walked with it around the village posing the same question to people. But they all told me it was me. I could not persuade them. I was disturbed, I had to meet this lady,” she narrates.

Coincidence?

After months of confusion, the two girls took to social media to find the truth. Instead, they became more confused.

“During the April holiday, I met Melon on Facebook around 10 pm and asked her why she resembled me? She constantly posed my questions back. I told her she was an impostor because her Facebook name was the same as mine (Melon Queen Willis), the profile picture was the same, the posing style similar.

In addition, the place where my picture was taken was at Savona in Kakamega, a recreational facility. The same place I was, the same dressing, the same posing style at the same particular location at the recreation facility. (She reveals that Melon was the first to go there while she was in form two and she went there while in form three)

I wondered how that could happen.

Melon Lutenyo and Sharon Mathias. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]
Facebook

I began my investigations. And when I start investigating a matter I hardly stop till it’s done,” Sharon says.

After their Facebook engagements Melon, having been given Sharon’s number earlier, had tried several times to reach her unsuccessfully. But another trial on another day the call was successful.

“(After the Facebook disagreement) I called her that evening not knowing she is the one we had interacted on Facebook. The phone went through, we talked from 10 pm to 5 am.

(She becomes emotional, breaks down to tears continues to narrate) I started asking her questions about when she was born, where I was born and how old was she.

She told me she was born in Kakamega Hospital and she was 19 years old. I was shocked because she was 19 years just like me.

I rushed to my mother and asked her where I was born and she told me the same hospital. I told her about it. She became suspicious and told me to ask her which year, month and date she was born.

I did so. The answer was the same as mine; born in August 1999, in Kakamega General Hospital. The only difference is her birthday but just by day.

I became inquisitive and asked about her performance.

Mistrust

We could not trust each other. We involved my sister (Mevies) so that one does not copy one's response. I was shocked Sharon was number five in her class and eleven overall. I was position five my class and 11 overall too. (She breaks down into tears)

Whether it was coincidence or plain reality or destiny at work, Melon could not settle at her home.  Her determination to find the truth was uncontrollable.

“I told myself I had to go to Nairobi and meet this lady. I told my mother I’m going to Nairobi (between tears) but she refused. I begged people to give me fare. My mother could not provide then. But she later changed her mind and gave me Sh300. Friends and neighbours also contributed and finally, I had bus fare.

I went with Mevies because Sharon told me her mother was brown and my sister too brown, my twin Sister Melvin.

 After friends helped me to raise the fare, we went to Nairobi. Approaching Nairobi, we called Sharon who advised us to alight at the town centre because Kangemi was insecure at night.  I lied to her I knew my way around Nairobi.

Nairobi

Once in Nairobi matatu operators directed us to Kangemi.

Upon arriving at Kangemi Nairobi, we stood by the roadside waiting for Sharon. Unknowingly Sharon was at the other side of the stage waiting for me, there, boda-boda operators asked Sharon, are you looking for yourself? Cross the other side your copy is there. When I turned and saw Sharon, I ran and we hugged each other for long without parting (sobbing uncontrollably),” Melon recalls.

The Kenya Medical Research has offered to do a DNA test that will help to solve the Sharon-Melon-Mevies riddle. But this will not be the last you will hear of the girls considering the ethical, legal and psychological issues posed by their puzzle.

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Kakamega TwinsSharon MathiasMelon Lutenyo