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OFF MY CHEST: Sharon Otieno could have been me

Monday September 17 2018

Sharon Otieno, who was brutally murdered a few weeks ago, could easily have been me. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH

Sharon Otieno, who was brutally murdered a few weeks ago, could easily have been me. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 

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Sharon Otieno, 26, who was brutally murdered a few weeks ago, could easily have been me. At 25, I’m just a few months shy of her age.

Her death gave me pause and I started reflecting on how I became the person I am and how I got to this place of moral uprightness despite the strong “sponsor” winds that often threatened to sweep me off my feet by offering the kind of life that Sharon wanted. The life that she had.  

It’s no longer a secret that Sharon had an affair with Migori County Governor Okoth Obado.

I am a moralist. Insanely so. So even if I mount a defence for Sharon, it has nothing to do with me trying to be weird. Or wayward. Sharon's death made death feel so close. The same way Bobbi Kristina Brown's death affected me. The similarity in Sharon and Bobbi's deaths is that a quick eye will easily see the fault in the women - one choosing drugs and the other dating an older man. As Atsango Chesoni would put it, a society that is absolutely okay with the possibility of wiping itself away.

I will focus on Sharon.

Her relationship with Obado made me think of the older men that have made passes at me over the years.


One was a family friend, a man my father’s age, who openly stared at my boobs and asked me to pass by a certain town where he worked.

Another told me he would make my life more comfortable - he told me he has loved me since I was a child. My blood still goes cold when I remember those words.

And this is where my problems begin and where the search for long lasting solutions should begin. How about we start by older men keeping away from young women, because otherwise, the way I see it, we engage in the business of chasing the wind.

My point is, it is highly unlikely that I will walk up to my GCEO and ask him out on a date. Now, if he does ask me the response is a whole bag of worms: power play, naiveté, greed, fear, curiosity and foolishness.


I believe I should be a virgin on my wedding night (what the man believes is his business although I am not raising any step children and I am not accepting unhealthy people) but not all girls out there believe what I believe or have been raised to believe such.

Sharon did not deserve to die for her choices, especially since we live in a society where keeping up with the Joneses, Kardashians, Nairobi Diaries are the aspirations.

I feel deeply disturbed when we try to pretend that we are pure.

The attacks on Sharon on social media (yes, people in this side of the world have energy to advice a dead girl) got me thinking about my life and my own choices.

And the more I think about me, the more I realise that it might as well have been pure luck. When my campus friends were invited to pool parties, the only reason I did not join them was that I come from a home that does not do things like those; my parents do not speak from both sides of the mouth.

“Always remember where you are from!" is something my dad reminds me of, often. So no, knowing where I come from does not even allow me to step inside a club. Growing up a teacher’s child means there will always be a name to protect and prestige to maintain.

But one of the unintended consequences of that kind of upbringing is that staying away from men starts happening on autocue so that even at 25, you are blind to even the best of intentions. (Sorry to all men my age who have tried to date me and I did not even understand their actions). But that is a story for another day.

Having this very conversation recently with a dear woman, I realised that the reason I continue to have very high guard walls around me where dating is concerned is because the attitude of society can be so wrong at times and falling for the wrong person will turn me into the idiot. So yes, where I am concerned, men can continue living in Mars and I can remain in Venus. After all, as Malaika Mwaghera says in Margaret Ogola's Place of Destiny,

this whole falling in love thing is a pure game of chance and I might just be the one to pick the rotten apple from the barrel.


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