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Emotional reunion for two sisters who last met in 1962

Veronicah Muthoni, 80, (in white dress) with her sister Felister Muthoni, 78, during their reunion after 60 years at Veronicah’s home in Ndege Ndimu, Nakuru, yesterday. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

It was a reunion like no other.

Veronicah Nyambura and Felister Muthoni squealed in delight as they ran into each others arms, taking a tumble as they locked in an embrace.

It was the first time since 1962 that the two sisters were seeing each other.

The venue was Nyambura’s home in Lanet, Nakuru, the time was 11.47am and nothing else seemed to matter as they soaked in the moment.

The sisters had last seen each other as young girls but as they met yesterday, it was evident that age had taken a toll on them as their children made the big surprise a reality.

Nyambura was in a white dress with green embroidery, a green blazer and a matching turban. Muthoni was in a black and beige dress, a black and white poncho and a black marvin hat.

Standing on opposite sides of the fence as the family and friends started cheering, the two sisters slowly walked to meet each other at the gate with tears of joy already rolling down their cheeks.

Not even their advanced age and frail frames could stop two sisters from breaking into a dance that saw them trip.

Despite the ground being marshy from the previous night’s downpour, the two remained in a tight embrace to celebrate their reunion, while occasionally patting each other’s back.

“Is this really you? How have you been? Where are your children? What have you been doing,” the two asked with their eyes locked on to each other’s face.

Felister Muthoni, 78, with her sister Veronicah Muthoni, 80, during their reunion in Ndege Ndimu, Nakuru. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

Lack of effective communication channels, distance and recurring relocation by the two and their individual families kept them apart despite their efforts to trace each other since the 1980s.

Tanzania sojourns

“In 1962, a month I can’t recall, we met at Kirinyaga Hotel in Nakuru. I travelled from Murang’a and she came from Londiani,” said Nyambura.

Nyambura, 80, explained that her reason for travelling to Nakuru was to get married to a man who was then an employee of Kenya Railways. “Muthoni, my younger sister was heading back to our parent’s home in Murang’a. She had lived with our aunt in Londiani for months,” she said.

Muthoni, 78, found a Kenyan suitor in 1966 with whom they settled in Oloitokitok, Kajiado County for some months before they relocated to Mbeya, Tanzania.

“My husband and I worked on pyrethrum farms in Tanzania but found the Ujamaa system unfavourable. We came back to Kenya which had a different system,” said Muthoni.

For the two sisters, letters through postal services or travelers were the only means of communication, which according to them was not effective and timely.

Veronicah Muthoni, 80, with her sister Felister Muthoni, 78, during their reunion in Ndege Ndimu, Nakuru. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

“Our father died in 1984. I sent her a letter but by the time she got it and travelled, we had already buried him and left Murang’a. We never met,” said Nyambura.

During the period, Nyambura and her family had moved from Nakuru to Ol Kalou in Nyandarua and later to Ng’arua in Laikipia.

“We exchanged our last letters in 1989 when I visited our aunt in Londiani. I sent her a letter to Ng’arua but when she was responding, I had moved back to Oloitokitok,” said Muthoni.

With broken lines of communication, the two continued with their lives normally praying that they would meet one day.

“I got seven children but one died. I am happy to hear that she got eight children. Our children have never met before and have already given us grandchildren,” said Nyambura.

Veronicah Muthoni, 80, with her sister Felister Muthoni, 78, during their reunion in Ndege Ndimu, Nakuru. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

114-year-old mother

In 2013, Nyambura and the rest of the family threw a birthday party for their 113-year-old matriarch and the event was publicised with hopes that Muthoni would show up.

“Our mother died the following year aged 114. We didn’t have any contacts through which we were to reach Muthoni. The burial went on without her but we kept praying,” said Nyambura.

Between then and 2021, Nyambura lost her younger brother, elder sister and her closest sister-in-law. “I felt that the world was coming to an end for me. I had no parents and all the siblings whom I knew were no more. My only hope was Muthoni whose whereabouts I didn’t know,” she said.

Earlier this year, Muthoni’s son Branaba Mwangi said they too were making efforts to trace Nyambura and her family but were shocked to find that they had relocated.