What you need to know:
- In 2007, the couple lost their first born son George Wanjaro.
- In 2004, the family had lost their second-born son, Peterson Njaro.
- Two months after Njaro died, their third-born brother Francis Thuo died.
When Mr Njaro Wairatu met, courted and married Ms Nancy Waithera some 50 years ago, their aspiration was to sire five children — three boys and two girls — and live to die to be buried by those children.
But man proposes in prayer and wishes, and God grants or denies. They did not have five children but they were blessed with four sons.
“And we did not complain, it was a good deal since we lived, and still do, in a society where many have wished and prayed in vain for children. We were not barren …,” said Ms Waithera, 69.
Her husband, now 75 years old, says he did not see a reason to consider himself unlucky, and he threw his efforts to providing for the family.
As a casual labourer, he had to be at his creative best to feed the family, educate the sons and take good care of himself, as his wife was not in any income generating activity.
“It was a real struggle to have these sons grow up and God was merciful because they all exhibited signs of succeeding in life through good morals, hard work and being God-fearing,” Ms Waithera said.
Mr Wairatu said he had started envisioning the firstborn becoming a military officer, the second exhibited signs of an engineering mind, the third a teacher and the last-born a banker.
Once again, he was proved to have poor betting instincts, because the firstborn became a teacher and his name was George Wanjaro, the late benga musician famed for songs like “Kaana ka Nelly” (Nelly’s kid), “Date ya Mbere” (first date), “Marua ma Jacqueline” (Jacqueline’s letter), “Kaba Mathabu” (Better Mathematics) and “Uyu Muthiururukano” (this merry-go-round). He died in 2007.
Wanjaro died in service at Gaichanjiru High School in Murang’a County where he was a mathematics teacher.
“This son became a very critical pillar of our life because he was too caring, respectful, enterprising … and exhibited all the signs of a man with a bright future. Silently, I knew that my toiling to educate him was not in vain,” Mr Wairatu said.
Honour his mother
To honour his mother, Wanjaro released the song “Guciara Kunaga Irigu” — contextualised as how flowering breaks the banana stalk.
He never once sang in praise of his father. The son hated alcoholism and violence. Enough said.
In the song about his mother, he praises her for salvaging his university education prospects by mobilising villagers to fundraise for him.
“Even if I die, I will never forget you my mum and as long as I am alive, you stand guaranteed good life courtesy of my bills,” he crooned.
Wanjaro had diligently invested, buying his own land and putting money in music and the transport industry, and things were really looking up.
But one day he developed a headache and was rushed to Murang’a Level Five Hospital, where he succumbed.
In 2004, the family had lost their second-born son, Peterson Njaro, and two months after Wanjaro died, their third-born brother Francis Thuo died. In a span of three years, Mr and Mrs Njaro Wairatu had buried three of their sons.
“It was a real jolt in our lives. We failed to know what was amiss. My faith in God nearly deserted me as I asked myself why it had to be me,” Ms Waithera said.
“But I knew too much agony in my heart was poisonous and if I failed to check my emotions, I would follow them to their graves.”
Deeper into alcoholism
Mr Wairatu said the turn of events made him sink deeper into alcoholism and many started saying his mental wellness was in doubt.
“The two sons died as casual labourers. They had not performed well in education,” he said.
“The teacher died when he had started making our lives decent and was very philanthropic, accommodating and warm to his brothers and he provided for them.
“In fact, Wanjaro was like our collective father, regardless that I was the father. Then he too died.”
With only one son left, the ageing couple surrendered their fate to God, Ms Waithera reminisced, “praying that the only evidence of our productive marriage would now stabilise, work hard and leave us many grandchildren to lighten our twilight years”.
But on July 14, 2021, the ageing couple received news that their only remaining son, Edward Irungu, had gone missing.
Three days later, his lifeless body was recovered from the Masinga dam in Embu County. Police said it was suicide, his parents insisted he was murdered.
“I silently took stock of the situation — all of our sons dead, no pool of grandchildren as their marriages were not structured, and since the misfortunes started to strike, all the daughters-in-law that had been introduced to us bolted, perhaps fearing getting caught up in the jinx of our family,” Ms Waithera mourned.
Mr Wairatu said: “I have simply resigned. It is like witchcraft where we have buried our children instead of our children burying us … In such circumstances, waiter, bring me another one, just like the other one!”
But Ms Waithera has a unique suggestion: “My husband is still active, you know, I am withered now and with no ability to sire children. If only he would get for himself a wife who will give us grandchildren to wipe away our tears. I absolutely won’t mind”.
Mr Wairatu laughs it off with a twinkle in his eye: “These women will never cease to amaze. Interesting”.