NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 3 – Tabitha Motonyi stands outside the City Mortuary in a bit of a daze. A group of women wrapped up in shawls flock around her.
It’s easy to imagine why she appears dazed and why the women around her are so protective when you consider what lies ahead of her.
She will have to look at what remains of her son, husband and brother-in-law and confirm that they are indeed her kin.
“But I don’t have to look at them to know they’re dead,” she says.
She received her confirmation early on Tuesday morning when she called their employer on hearing the news that 36 quarry workers had been executed by the Al Shabaab in Mandera.
“It was 7am when I heard on the radio that the Al Shabaab had hit a camp in Koromey which is where they were stationed. I couldn’t reach them so I tried calling those I knew they worked with; but the two I tried said they’d left Mandera. It was their employer who finally told me what I feared was true,” she narrates.
She doesn’t shed a tear as she tells the story. Maybe because she has no tears left to shed or she’s still in shock. She just stares stoically ahead as though telling of events that touch on another.
But with four children left to care for on a casual labourer’s pay, she’ll have to be strong.
“He used to provide for us. That’s why he went to Mandera. I’d just supplement our income with odd jobs: washing clothes, farm labour, breaking stones for road repair, that kind of work,” she says, “the kind of work that doesn’t pay well.”
And so she appeals to the government for help. Help to transport the bodies of her loved ones to Kakamega where they hailed from.
And when their bodies are finally lowered into the grave Tabitha will likely remember them as: David Gatimu, loving husband, 1959-2014; Joseph Makare, loving son, 1990-2014 and Willy Lukore, brother in-law, 1986-2014.