Sara Akelo Aruwa was a bubbly young woman studying at USIU-Africa when she went missing one night in 2012. Thus began a long and terrifying search that ended tragically when we finally found her body, the victim of murder.
Sarah was personally known to me, more so two years before her tragic death. We were both part of the bridal party when her elder sister married my good friend and fellow journalist Jim Onyango. As a journalist, this was surreal in that now I was part of a macabre story as it unfolded. Our search took us to Eastlands, via USIU and to the coffee estates near KwaMaiko in Kiambu County.
We finally laid her to rest in Gem, Siaya County. Being part of triplets, Sarah’s two other sisters were deeply affected, not to mention the rest of her siblings and parents.
It is with this memory of the heinous murder of a young soul that I have been following the story of the gruesome murder of the Moi University final year medical student Ivy Wangechi.
It is simply inconceivable that somebody was so aggrieved because of being spurned romantically that he would, reportedly, drive over 300 kilometres, buy an axe, lie in wait and attack a defenceless woman, snuffing life out of her.
As a former Moi University student, I feel some kinship with Ivy. Now I never knew her personally but she might have been any other young woman in my life — the girl next door, a niece, the one who leads worship in my church, the intern in my office...
I cannot even start to imagine the pain her parents, relatives, friends and classmates are going through. It could even be harder on the latter, considering that most of them normally do the medical rounds at the Moi Referral and Teaching Hospital — where she was killed and where the key suspect of the murder is admitted after irate eyewitnesses administered mob justice on him.
Press reports say the suspect claimed that he was irked by the unrequited love he showered Ivy with. There are further claims of monetary and other material gifts the man poured onto the object of his affection.
It further muddies the waters when social media is awash with claims of HIV infection, which, to me are just but a red herring to the whole matter. Under Kenyan laws, intentional infection is a criminal offence and the offended party has the right to go to court.
However, as my lawyer friends, Kimutai Bosek and Senior Counsel Ambrose Rachier, both who have done extensive work in the area of the legal aspect of HIV, would tell you, the onus probandi usually lies heavier on the accuser.
Even so, is the fact that one infected you with HIV enough to kill them? On the same breath, is a woman’s refusal of a man’s romantic advances a ticket to the grave? We need to teach our young men that people get dumped every minute and the rule of the game is to move on to where your efforts will be reciprocated.
I am very annoyed by the social media types who are quick to take their position on the judgement seat and pass a verdict on the conduct of the departed girl. Sadder still was the fact that a radio show host went ahead to support the murder, implying that the girl asked for it as she was disloyal. Beats me the gauge the said radio man used to measure the level of honesty in a relationship he was never party to!
How do you talk authoritatively on the morals — or lack thereof — of a person you never knew before her brutal death this week? I would choose to go with the words of Justus Muthiini, Ivy’s neighbour, who said: "This is a girl we all knew as very quiet, disciplined and serious with her work. I’m shocked by the junk being shared about her on social media, which we categorically want to dispute as falsehoods and something nobody should believe. It is not fair to the family.”
As for me, I have a goddaughter, a girl I have known since the nurse presented her to me at a Nairobi hospital ward some years back. I would want her to grow knowing that it is okay for her to turn down a young man’s advances and not be murdered for it.
Mr Osanjo is a Nairobi based journalist. [email protected]