When the two beautiful young women walked into the Versatile Model and Talent offices on Nairobi’s Kenyatta Avenue one Wednesday, photographer Godfrey Ohutso was struck by their dignified manner.
Jedida Kariuki, 21, and her sister Joan, 19, were inseparable.
The two Kenyatta University students loved fashion and wanted to become models so they decided to take the first step towards fulfilling their dream.
They left their Thika home early on Friday, April 13, ready for their photo shoot. Their aunt dropped them at Versatile’s offices at 11 am.
“They were very excited and changed quickly into outfits for the photos,” Mr Ohutso recalled.
By the time the shoot was done, the sisters felt it was too late for them to travel back home so they stayed at their aunt’s house.
On Sunday, at about 3 pm, they phoned their parents Robert and Tabitha Kariuki to tell them they were on their way home.
“We sat waiting for them, but they never arrived. We called their numbers, but their phones were not working. We asked neighbours and friends, but no one had heard from them,” Mr Kariuki told the Sunday Nation.
Early the morning of Monday April 16 the parents arrived at Kasarani police station to report their daughters missing.
By this time, they were aware there had been an accident the previous day on the superhighway that had once been Thika Road, but they did not want to believe that their children were among the victims.
When the police informed them what had happened, Mr Kariuki broke down for hours over the loss of the “pillars of his family”, his eldest children in a family of four.
Instead of seeing the girls modelling dream blossom, the family will use the images from the photoshoot at their funeral this Wednesday.
Jedida and Joan were two of the six people who died in the April 15 accident at about 4 pm when the matatu in which they were travelling rammed into a construction truck parked crosswise to prevent vehicles from using a section of the superhighway.
Fifty-four people have died in accidents on the highway between January and March this year, 40 of them pedestrians, according to Traffic Commandant Joseph ole Tito.
At Kenyatta University, the sisters’ tragic deaths have left a community shocked and in mourning.
The student union led a delegation to console the family last Friday, while hundreds of students have posted their condolences on the popular Facebook page, It’s only in KU.
According to her friends, Jedida, who was a final year Bachelor of Commerce student, was an outgoing, jovial and adventurous lady who loved music.
“Joan (a second year tourism and hospitality student) loved everything in life. She taught me how to be happy,” her close friend Cate Wambui said.
The tragic loss of the sisters is reminiscent of a September 2002 accident in which 22-year-old twins Carol Murugi and Florence Kathambi, both students of Moi University, died in a road crash in Eldoret.
Like Joan and Jedida, the Moi University twins had days before their deaths, taken a photo together that became a reminder of lives lost too soon.