The marches on March 8 happened as planned, with the accompanying memoranda delivered to the relevant authorities.
It was a desperate cry for help from our sisters, but was anyone listening?
Before the dust could settle on the streets where the women’s marches took place and the ink could dry on the women’s memorandum to the government, news broke of the savage, cold blood murder of Ivy Wangechi, a sixth-year Bachelor of Medicine student at the Eldoret-based Moi University.
Coming from doing her routine rounds at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital where she was a final year student-doctor, the 24-year-old, who was turning 25 in a day’s time, was attacked in broad daylight on the pavement outside the medical facility, where wielding an axe, her murderer, a 28-year-old man, struck her dead in a matter of minutes.
Those who witnessed the gruesome incident narrated a scene no one would want to visualise, imagining the amount of sheer pain the attacker inflicted on Ivy before she breathed her last. Why, one would ask, would any human being deserve to die in so much pain, intentionally inflicted by someone who had travelled all the way from Nairobi to Eldoret to commit the act? Did the perpetrator have no humanity left in him, or what level of inhumanity lived within him for him to plan and go ahead to execute such a horrendous murder?
If nothing else has made us sit up—including the women’s memoranda and their marches on March 8, including the tens of other similarly macabre murders and abuse of women across Kenya—then Ivy’s heart-wrenching killing should trigger us into action, because much as it didn’t have to take her losing her young life for the country to sit up, the message being sent out by her murder and her murderer is that the deaths and abuse of Kenyan women are not about to stop anytime soon, unless something drastic happens.
To Kenyan men, we are all squarely in the dock, guilty of collective sins of omission and commission.
We have failed our sisters by our acts of abuse, our justification of abuse, our refusal to own up to abuse, our half-heartedness in condemning abuse and our unwillingness to speak among ourselves about how we treat the women in our lives and women in general. We must do better as a people, because we can and we must.
To Kenyan women, please accept our collective apology, and renewed solidarity.