My name is Josphine from central Kenya. I am in my mid-thirties and a mother of two girls aged 9 and 5; and currently employed full-time. I believe life is supposed to be a journey, and as an experience of what we make it. It can therefore beutterly disappointing when another person dictates and manipulates how life should line out for you when you become an adult and more so, when thatperson is the onewho birthed and sired you, actsyour worst enemy.
I remember my life as a young girl in the 90s, being so hated by my own mother, who as a teacher showered other people's kids in the village with love. She would come to class and send me (her own real daughter)out and give me difficult jobs in the farm. At age 10, i had learnt to cook, wash my siblings, dig, milk cows and do many other things. To date i still do not understand why my own mother hated me so much.
Growing up through primary school was difficult, i never got new school uniform or church clothes and my fellow classmates would make fun of me which really hurt. i bore painful beatings from my mother often, one time she hit my head with a wooden chair that I suffered frequent headaches and had to visit the hospital often; and being a second born in the family, and a girl, i had nowhere and no one to run to for comfort. Dad was always absent as he was working away and would only come home during the weekend. It’s only after i went to a boarding secondaryschool that my mother changed, probably out of my absence. She started growing warm towards me through secondary and college life which brought us very close and strengthened our mother-daughter bond.
It’s after graduating from college and in my early 20s that i got engaged to a young banker. It was good news for mum but not for my dad; and that is where my life took a turn for the worst. Dad became hostile toward me threatening me with death and ejection from the family. It was a difficult phase for me; though i was happy that my fiancé and my mother were by my side.
I could not understand why abuse had changed hands, once from my mother and now to my father and at a time when i was a young woman, educated, employed and planning to get married. In 2007, i remember my then fiancé and i trying to visit home three times for dowry negotiations but my dad would dismiss me through verbal abuses. It’s then, with my mother’s unwavering support that my fiancé and i decided to cohabit and a year later we were blessed with a girl. My then ailing mother was very happy for me, but my father did not care.
Life gave me another blow when four months down the line, my mother passed on, leaving me with a warning that my life would never be easy with my dad, words that came true soon after her burial. My dad continued threatening me and rejecting me. All this time I would try to get my elder brother and my dad’s brothers to help dad but none cared, after all it was not them suffering. However, when dad needed my help he would pretend to be nice, manipulate me to get what he wanted then he would change. One year on, my marital home turned to a war zone, the man i had loved for 6 years, my fiance started to change , he would physically and verbally abuse me, and he would intimidate me at any chance i would disagree with him. I could not take it anymore and separated from him, and went back to my dad's place. My dad was so happy to hear of our separation, that he sarcastically told me that i would not become the first single mother in the world. In fact he ensured that no reconciliation would happen with my fiance by getting us a legal termination of marriage that got me in depression for years.
Since 2009, i have been living a hard life, my dad threw me out of his premises and later on from the family home- where i had deeply suffered in the hands of my ferocious younger brotherand his wife who would not allow me to till the acres of land which lay covered in weedsor use water resources to fed for me children(in the pretext that dad had instructed them that i should never use our family's resources), despite the fact that he and my other brothers had been givenlarge tracts of land (inherited) by my dad. I would get jobs but leave due to my mental health. No sibling in my family ever bothered to fight for my well being or sanity but they have found a victim to play. My elder brother once dismissed me as a black sheep in the family and called me sick in the head; he has justlike dad learnt the art of humiliating me.Efforts to build a cordial relationship with my dad and my brothers have hit a snag. Ilast talked to my dad in 2016 when he told me he would never want to hear from me or see me. I live in a rentedplace where i stay with my daughters. I can only thank God and my friends that i have some peace though i get depressed quite often and have to rely on medication.
Sometimes life can turn out different, when i look back at my younger years and i see the happy me; tears freely flow from my eyes. My daughters stay with me all the time, as they have no grandmother to visit. My dad has successfully destroyed my reputation across the village and with my relatives that none wants to relate with me, they can only relate when they need help or money, but i have refused to be manipulated. My brotherslive like kingsand collude with my dad against me, a pain that i have learnt to live with. Yet my dad has never told me or the people who have tried mediation between us, why he hates me so much, and how he has managed to make my brothers and other people believe in the lies he tells about me.
I have read horrorstories in Kenya of the trauma that single mothers go through in their parents and brothers hands, each story very unique from the other, and it is very agonizing. I have told my story to people but some say, 'why did you allow it to happen to you?', or, 'you will grow a thick skin and move on'. I smile every day at work and i laugh, but that cannot take away the scars engrossed in my heart. I struggle with anxiety attacks and depression but no one understands my pain. Should males in the family mistreat the women who have taken care of them at some point of their lives, and should they violently deny women their rights?
Single mothers are abhorred and discriminated in the society, and people openly brand them 'sluts and irresponsible women that society does not need. They are blamed for raising brats, juvenile delinquents and criminals! And i am one of them, not of my own making but of my family.