- So determined was her resolve that she shed her old name and assumed a new identity – Grace Kasyoka.
- Her husband, who died in 2015, went to the grave without discovering that his wife was using an alias.
- In Ukambani, despite producing a picture of their mother, the two strangers were treated with suspicion.
To what extent can a woman go to shed off memories of an abusive marriage?
For close to 45 years, Agnes Wanza, 71, has lived with the heavy load of deep secrets that weighed her down, until she recently yielded to constant nudging by her children.
When she escaped her violent matrimonial home in Waita village in Mwingi Central, Kitui County in 1974, Wanza had only one resolve – to start life afresh.
So determined was her resolve that she shed her old name and assumed a new identity – Grace Kasyoka.
Her husband, Mr Charles Kirima, who died in 2015, went to the grave without discovering that his wife was using an alias, and had indeed been married previously and bore three children.
The soft spoken Njuri Ncheke elder lived with his wife in Gankere village and was not alarmed by the fact that she never even once travelled to her maternal home or sought to take him there.
The couple had six sons and it is only after they started marrying that they accelerated their push to have her reveal her closely guarded secrets.
PUSH TO REVEAL SECRETS
“My father had died without knowing where my mother came from and I was afraid that with her advanced age, we might never know our roots. I challenged her jokingly if she had other child because I regarded myself the first born.
“She looked shocked and angry at the same time and I realised I had touched a raw nerve. She admitted that she indeed had another child by the name Mwikali but did not name the others. She also mentioned the name of the village she came from,” narrated Pastor Moses Kiriinya, 41.
Armed with the little information, the clergyman then mobilised his five brothers and Pastor Kiriinya and embarked on a tour of Waita village.
In Ukambani, despite producing a picture of their mother, the two strangers were treated with suspicion until an uncle noticed some resemblance between one of the sons and the woman.
“I even called my mother and she spoke with her brother Karanja Munuve. We were wary of the visit and feared how we would be received. We carried our own water and said we would not greet anyone with our hands or eat their food,” recounted Pastor Kiriinya.
Following correspondences that spanned close to two years, the two families on Sunday held an elaborate get-together where about 80 kinsmen from Ukambani toured Gankere in Imenti North, Meru County for a re-union with their relative.
The woman’s firstborn child, Ms Mwikali Katee, was in nursery school when her mother left. She said many family members presumed that their mother had died.