Joseph Githinji will never realise his dream of marrying his longtime girlfriend as he had planned or even becoming a top officer like his father.
The 22-year-old was among the 37 police officers who died under a hail of bullets while seeking out bandits in Baragoi on Saturday last week.
The last communication he had with anyone before he died was a text message he sent to his mother which said: “We are leaving (for Baragoi) at midday today. Please pray for me.”
The last he had seen of his family was in August during his passing out parade at Administration Police College in Embakasi, Nairobi.
On Thursday, the sleepy Gwakiong’o village in Nyandarua County where the young officer hailed from, was still in shock.
As family and friends met at the family farm in preparation for the burial, they were still trying to come to terms with the death of the young man they had all come to love and care for because of his deep involvement in the community.
At the PCEA Gwakiong’o Church where he ministered to the youth and was the choirmaster, his sultry voice will be missed.
Mr Francis Ngure, a church elder and family friend, described the young officer as an outstanding member of the community.
“The whole village is today commiserating with the family of Joseph Githinji because to all of us he represented something or the other. To the church, he was a staunch Christian who took part in its activities and helped when he could. To his family, he was of course an irreplaceable son and brother,” he says.
The slain officer also helped mould the lives of many children during his three-year stint at Matunda Primary School as an untrained teacher after his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams which he sat at St Luke’s Secondary School in Nakuru in 2008. He scored C plain in 2008.
“He was a model student and at an age when many teenagers get lost in alcohol due to boredom after their KCSE exams, Joseph decided to engage in something that was useful to him and to his community. He sang in church and taught children, not for the money, but the pure joy of service,” said Mr Joseph Wanjiru, the officer’s cousin.
“He wanted to marry. He also had big plans for his future because he wanted to work hard and rise through the ranks to become a high-ranking officer. But he complained when he realised he had been posted to Samburu. In a way, his dejection was premonition that he would die there shortly, but he said that because he had been commanded, he had no option,” explained Mr Wanjiru, 27.
Many villagers who spoke to the Nation said Githinji was respectful and deeply religious.
He was among 37 officers killed by heavily armed bandits in a well-choreographed ambush in Suguta Valley.
Most of the officers were inexperienced and poorly-equipped, leaving them vulnerable to the powerful sniper rifles.
The officers were on a mission to recover some 450 head of cattle stolen from the Samburu by suspected Turkana raiders some months ago.
The officers’ bodies were left uncollected for days even as the country woke up to the shocking incident.
“My husband had to go to Nairobi himself to identify the badly decomposed body. So far, we have not heard anything from the government representatives. It is like the deaths do not register in their conscience,” said Mrs Esther Kahuho, Githinji’s mother. (READ: Survivors recall pain, agony in the jungle)