Everyday You Write Your History
Every day you live you write your story, will it be legendary, nostalgic, or regrettable.
On a late Wednesday afternoon, I walk home into the main gate and behold the sight in front of my eyes is crazy. Two women are fighting – throwing blows at each other and using any available accessory to fight each other. At some point one woman wants to stab the other with a knife, fortunately neighbors came to her aid to stop the fight. Digging deeper into the incident I unravel that it was a tiny issue that had been blown out of proportion, all this was as a result of gossip- a case of she said this and that about me.
At the Langata women’s prison there are about 700 women serving different sentences ranging from- short sentences, special watch and condemn. Such a simple fight could have turned ugly and landed one or both of these women behind bars for a long time.
At the Langata women’s prison I meet up with Carol Otieno who is in her mid-thirties and a mother of two aged 16 and 11 years. She was sentenced in the year 2011 for 11 years after assaulting her house help on claims that she was having an affair with her husband. She is a calm individual who leads the choir during the church service and one can’t help noticing that she has inborn leadership skills.
On the fateful day she found her husband and the house in a compromising situation. In her mind she figured that some battles are meant to be settled physically and unfortunately that didn’t end up well. First she was charged with assaulting a minor and on the other hand her husband was charged with defilement of a minor, he was sentenced to life imprisonment as stipulated in the law as it was said that the minor was below 12 years. She regrets dearly of the actions she undertook that particular day.
Next I meet up with Lillian Nechesa (not her real name), she is in her mid-forties and the prison has been her home since 2006. She stands out among her inmates. She is in a dark blue dress as compared to the rest who are in white dresses with blue stripes. The blue attire signifies that she has been given the role of a trustee to oversee the other inmates- more like a prefect in school.
Nechesa was charged with the murder of her last born child, when he was only a year and three months old. One would wonder why a mother would kill her own flesh and blood, but the reason was a case of love gone sour. Her husband of many years left her and their four children for another woman, apparently when she was pregnant with their 5th child. When the child was born life became unbearable. There were nights when they would go to bed hungry and even not have a place to sleep, she resulted to taking the older children to stay with their grandmother as she tried to fend for her last born.
On the fateful day she couldn’t take it anymore and in her mind the easier option was to eliminate the constant reminder of her husband; her last born child. She bought a packet of poison, mixed it with water and fed it to the child. What she thought would end her miseries was the beginning of her never ending dark days.
Even though she has repented so many times her family has still not come to terms with the act she committed and ever since she was locked up none of her family members have ever taken the time to come to visit not even her children.
Carol’s and Nechesa’s cases are just a small portion of the many crimes of passion at the prison, their lives have greatly changed and if they could turn back the hands of time they would have done things differently, but unfortunately it is not possible and they have to learn the hard way. 10% of life is what happens to you and the other 90% is about how you react with what happens to you.
Carol dropped out of school in Form 2 and being in prison has enabled her to continue with her education and at the end of the year 2016 she will be sitting for her KCSE. The prison has provided numerous opportunities for these women ranging from knitting, baking, beadwork, tailoring, hair dressing and beauty among other activities which will help them start afresh once they are out of prison.
Every day make your history. Every day you choose and with each choice, you are writing a story. Write on.