Axe murder offers lessons on consent and rejection

Wednesday March 18 2020

An undated photo of Ivy Wangechi who was killed at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, on April 9, 2019, by former schoolmate Naftali Njahi Kinuthia. PHOTO | COURTESY


The circumstances surrounding the violent death of Ivy Wangechi, who was hacked to death on Tuesday in a case of unrequited love, make the love-related murders which have dominated the news recently seem pallid in comparison.

An axe-wielding Naftali Kinuthia accosted Ms Wangechi, a medical student, as she was leaving Moi University Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret.

According to Eldoret East OCPD Lucy Kananu, he attacked her from the back with an axe so sharp and heavy that she stood no chance of survival.

According to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Eldoret, the 29-year-old Kinuthia sent his victim cash for her 25th birthday and they met briefly in Eldoret.

They agreed to meet again later, but even after persistently calling Ms Wangechi she refused to pick his calls, angering him.


One of Ms Wangechi’s friends later revealed to the media that she (Ms Wangechi) confessed that Mr Kinuthia was stalking her, and that he had threatened to commit suicide if she did not accept to become his girlfriend.

Mr Kinuthia planned the murder to the last detail. He stalked his victim’s movements on the day of the murder, even purchasing a knife and axe in Eldoret town in readiness for the mission.

But there’s more to the murder than just an angry young man smarting from the sting of rejection by a beautiful young woman who he insisted he had invested time and money in.

Two piping hot issues emerge from this murder: Rejection and consent.

It seems that the perverted young man, and thousands like him, does not have even an inkling of understanding about what consent means.

And that rejection is part and parcel of the love bargain. He felt disrespected, he told the police.


Basically, the young man had invested money and emotions in the woman and wanted to reap the benefits of his investment.

What kind of warped reasoning would make a man believe that he owned a woman’s affection and body just because he spent money and emotions on her?

It’s time for us to consider that that there is a collective misunderstanding about what it means when a woman says "no", and that no matter what anyone says, accepting treats or gifts from a man does not equal consent.

It’s time to consider that whenever one feels the urge to forcefully spread their “love”, then perhaps it is the ideal time to seek professional help in dealing with rejection.

This reminds me of a disturbing video that was circulating on social media recently.

It featured a burly and visibly drunk man who was trying to drag a young woman into his car even as she protested loudly, trying to resist his demands.


The burly man kept lamenting that he had bought her drinks and basically, he had to take her home with him.

Sadly, his attitude, while shocking, is not uncommon at all. The way some Kenyans have reacted to Ms Wangeci’s murder make it seem like murder can be justified or contextualised.

As if her brutal murder is not stressful enough, there is a section of deranged Kenyans peddling junk theories about possible motivation for her murder.

Like HIV infection. And “taking his money”. Or “leading him on”. A radio presenter also tried to contextualise and in essence justify her murder by saying she died because she “was not loyal”.

The presenter has since been suspended and the radio station issued an apology about the same.


The attacks on Ms Wangechi’s character have come fast and furious on various platforms.

Her dean, friends and neighbours have, thankfully, come to her swift defence. The attacks reveal cracks in our understanding of consent and handling of rejection.

The fact that we are still blaming the woman for her own bloody murder and finding ways of justifying Mr Kinuthia’s actions reveal a disturbing gap of knowledge about how to handle both issues.

Hopefully, the murderous turn of events will be the beginning of a candid national conversation about consent and how men and women handle rejection.

The writer is the editor, Living Magazine. [email protected] @FaithOneya