Moving out of his matrimonial home may have been the worst decision Robert Muigana ever made. But he says he had no choice.
The relationship between him and his wife had hit its worst. Irremediable stage, he says. His son was the only reason he held onto the marriage for that long. A son, he says he has never seen since October 2018.
“I have no information about where he is. I find myself with so much thoughts, since I grew up with my father and we have such a strong bond. It hurts that someone is keeping me from seeing him,” he laments.
Just a few days before the mysterious disappearance, Muigana had visited his estranged wife who was staying with his son. He says he had a good time with his boy, and even went shopping.
But four days later on visiting the flat they were staying in Athi River, he was informed they had moved.
There was no phone call or even a sign that they were planning to relocate. It hit him hard, so hard that he contemplated suicide. One time, he jumped in front of a speeding trailer which miraculously screeched on its breaks.
“It hurts, it really does. I love my boy so much. What is worse is that people out here speak of dead beat dads, but no one considers there are men who really want to be fathers but they have been denied a chance,” says the 34-year-old.
Muigana says he never foresaw that his son will grow away from him. He never expected his marriage to fall apart either.
“We were college sweethearts and we even had church wedding in June 15, 2013. Our son was honey moon baby. We were happy, or so I thought,” he recalls. “I only missed one antenatal clinic, I was an active parent, and considering my wife gave birth through caesarean section, I was so much present for my son.
However, things fell apart fast in the first two years of their marriage. Muigana, who is an online taxi driver, says one of the reasons was because he did not land a stable job, while his wife was well off.
“I even tried to talk to her parents but they said she never consulted them when she moved out. They said it was a marital issue they did not want to get into,” he says.
It is a similar turmoil that made Dennis Mwangi form Fathers Rights Movement-Kenya, an organisation with social media presence that advocates for the rights of men denied a chance to be fathers.
Mwangi says he would not like any man to go through what he faced.
“I once tried hanging myself only that the ceiling was not strong to support me. I cried like a baby until my mother came and took me back home after her phone calls went unanswered,” he says. “When it reaches the point where a man commits suicide, it means nothing matters anymore.
Mwangi says while in his case he was able to reconcile with his ex-wife, many men are not so lucky.
“Dead beat dads may not be really dead beat. They could be somewhere fighting for their right to see their children. When such men come to use, there near suicidal,” said Mwangi.
He added that the organisation has witnessed cases of men being given 50-50 custody in court but some of them cannot trace their children.
“Any woman who is practicing parent alienation should not be called a single mother because the father of the child is present and is willing to be participate. Bringing up a child is not just about sending money. Fatherhood is more than just paying child support,” he said.