, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 2 – It was an emotional arrival home for 34-year-old Loise Njoki who was at the mercy of pirates in Somalia for just shy of two years.
Njoki was re-united with her 12-year-old daughter Lucy Muthoni and her extended family on Tuesday night at the Wilson Airport; exactly one year and eleven months since she was kidnapped from a health facility in Somalia, together with her colleague, also a Kenyan.
The re-union was marked by tears of joy as Njoki embraced her daughter whom she said she had been, “dying,” all the days she was in captivity. “She was always on my mind during my moments of tribulations.”
The pirates had demanded Sh200 million in ransom from her family in exchange for her freedom.
“I have undergone much pain,” Njoki said upon arrival, while requesting that she be allowed not to divulge more details as they would awaken her sad memories. “I thank God, I thank President Uhuru Kenyatta for the role he played to secure our freedom as well as the security forces in Somalia.”
The Somali security officers having done battle with the pirates on Saturday last week, to secure her freedom.
James Gachamba, the colleague with whom she was taken hostage was among those who welcome her back home; having been rescued eight months earlier, in the dark, from a remote village in Somalia.
Having had a little more time to recover from the trauma of being held in captivity, he was able to provide a glimpse of what they endured albeit a small one: ““We lived in caves and in forests the whole time. They would feed us twice a day,” he recounted.
“I’m overwhelmed to see her back. We have undergone a lot pain together,” he said. “It is a case of answered prayers… we are a living testimony that there is God.”
A visibly emotional Njoki also described her rescue as God’s miracle, “I managed to escape unhurt…these are God’s doings,” she said.
Her 12-year-old daughter Muthoni told Capital News that she has forgiven those who tormented her mother and brought pain and desperation to her family.
“I forgive them and I know that God will reform them so that they will not do the same to other people.”
Njoki’s elder sister Mary Nyokabi gave testimony that they remained steadfast in prayer and fasting, even when all seemed hopeless.
“It was not easy for my family since our sister was kidnapped but we sought refuge in God,” she said.
“When she learnt of her kidnapping, I fasted for 15 days… it is during the fasting that I heard a voice assuring me that she will be okay. It’s that knowledge that I held on to, that though I might not when, she would be back.”
She recalled the anguish the family went through when a Kenya Defence Force camp in Somalia was overrun by Al-Shabaab militia at the start of the year, resulting in the death of tens of soldiers.
“We wondered if they could kill soldiers, what about our sister who was is just a civilian?” she posed.
The worst part, Gachamba told Capital News, was the betrayal, “the fact that those whom we worked with are the very same who handed us over to the pirates.”
Njoki was captured by the pirates in November 2014, while ferrying homeopathic medicine to Somalia along with Gachamba.