A series of misfortune that has been hitting families in Kiambu is as mysterious as it is perplexing. In less than two months, eight children have drowned, all in pairs.
It all started on June 29. On the fateful day, residents of Kirenga village in Kiambu woke up to the shocking news that two students, Brian Kiiru and Brian Gathinji, had drowned during a swimming expedition. Incidentally, the bosom friends wanted to save yet another friend who was drowning.
The two did not only share age but first name and their houses are few metres apart.
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According John Mburu, Kiiru's brother, Brian left home at around 4pm to join his friends for swimming.
“It is very usual for young boys here to go swimming at the river. They also take pictures there and enjoy nature. What we never knew is that the same place is a death trap,” Mburu said.
Teresiah Nyambura, Kiiru's mother, was inconsolable when she learnt of her son's death.
“I'm overwhelmed..., one moment Brian was here full of life, and the next he's no more. My spirit is wrecked, as all my plans for Brian have been dashed,” Nyambura said.
Mary Njeri, a neighbour, said since the schools were closed, many children had been engaging in expeditions that put their lives at risk.
In yet another incident on July 29, John Njenga, 13, and Kevin Kariuki, 10, died in Manguo swamp.
The two got stuck in the swamp after diving in a bid to catch wild ducks. Their bodies remained stuck in there for a week before they were sighted by two boys trying to swim in the same area.
As fate would have it, the two were friends and neighbours.
Bernice Wambui, Kevin's mother, said she has not known peace since the Class Five boy went missing and later found dead.
"I have not been eating. I have sleepless nights. His father is also stressed by this loss," said Wambui.
Wambui blamed the incident on the long holidays brought by corona.
On August 10, two sisters died in a pool of water in an unsecured construction house in Kinoo village.
Angela Wangui, four, and her sister Abigael Mbaire, aged three, were playing at the site when they drowned. Their distraught father, Daniel Njoroge, recounted the search for his daughters and how it ended in grief.
“We searched nearby flats and a church compound frequented by children to no avail. It’s one of the neighbours' children who found the bodies of the two floating in the pool,” Njoroge painfully recounted.
“I am a man, but I have been broken into very tiny pieces. My wife is inconsolable and my only remaining son is in a state of disbelief,” Njoroge said.
His wife Esther Wangui said: “I’m devastated, I have not eaten since the tragedy happened and my body is weak. I have breathing difficulties, everything in this house reminds me of Abigael and Angela,” she said.
On August 16, Kelvin Kamau, a Standard Seven pupil, and Martin Njehu, a Standard Five, drowned in a dam in Ndeiya, Limuru.
The two were herding goats but diverted into the dam to swim. This turned tragic.
Area Chief Eric Gitau said that it was saddening that school-going children continued to die. He called on the relevant authorities to fence off the dams.
”Boys are especially very tricky to contain. If they are not climbing trees they are trying to swim in pools of water," said Gitau.
Children Officer's Mary Muthumbi said parents should tighten the grip on their children during this period.
George Ngugi, a child protection officer, urged parents to keep a close eye on children even when they allocate them duties in and outside compounds.
“It is very easy for a child to pull a trick on unsuspecting parent, and in a moment, a life is lost. We, as parents, need to up our game with these very knowledgeable children,” Ngugi said.
Peter Thiong'o, a long-serving teacher, said children's concentration is always short and that’s why school lessons are usually 45 minutes. Mr Thiong'o said if a child stays in one place for long, they may move out to look for “colour” to kill monotony.