How witchcraft claims drove woman out of marriage, family and children

Gladys Gesare

Gladys Gesare during the interview with the Nation in Kisii County on November 24, 2021.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The man she had known as a husband and father to their three children had turned out to be a serial liar and cheater.
  • Although she recovered from the extreme depression, which saw her lose consciousness, she is constantly on anti-depressants.

Gladys Gesare is a distraught woman. Her husband of 18 years divorced her in her absence and later blocked her from accessing her children.

Her problems began in December 2018 when she found him with a married woman, who was also their neighbour, at their home in Mosocho, Kisii County.

In August 2019, she ran into acute depression and was taken in by some nuns in Kuria, Migori County, for management as she would learn later.

Between February and August 2020, Ms Gesare stayed at Akina Ties Rescue Centre, having nowhere to call home.

This follows the realisation that the man she had known as a husband and father to their three children had turned out to be a serial liar and cheater.

Her healing journey has just started and though she recovered from the extreme depression, which saw her lose consciousness, she is constantly on anti-depressants.

But what irks her most is the painful and derogatory words from her husband.

He accused her of being a witch and constantly asked the people she called family and friends to stay away from her, lest they are bewitched too.

Ostensibly, according to her husband, she had tried to bewitch him and their firstborn son, now aged 19.

The 43-year-old man says his wife had tried to hire killers to end his life, claims that Ms Gesare says were unfounded and an extreme way of playing ‘victim’ in a relationship that has deteriorated over time.

Allegations of witchcraft

“I am a staunch Catholic. I didn’t even have time to know him. We did not date. I worked under his leadership for a few months at a company where we both worked. It was love at first sight and after a month, we married,” says Ms Gesare, adding that the witchcraft claims affected her so much to the point that close people kept off her.

In Kisii, allegations of witchcraft are taken seriously. Many people, especially elderly widows, have been lynched after being suspected to be witches.

Last month, four elderly women were lynched in broad daylight as villagers watched in disbelief.

Ms Gesare says the witchcraft claims by her husband and those close to her, together with other forms of abuse, have contributed to her current sorry state.

“At one time, he brought marijuana to our matrimonial home and later called detectives, claiming I was responsible for the outlawed substance,” said Ms Gesare.

She says her many years of efforts in putting together her family have been reduced to misery and that apart from her life, she literally has nothing in her name.

She notes that her dreams are shattered and that she lives one day at a time, praying to God that someday, she will resume a meaningful life.

She says emotional stress is the worst form of abuse a woman can be subjected to.

Any small issue relating to her family can trigger her stress and lead her back to depression. But she is fighting hard not to go back there. She is slowly recollecting her life, picking the broken pieces and hoping that good will triumph over evil.

Just a few years ago, she was the regional manager for a top marketing and branding company in the country.

Bad memories of the past

They started the company with her husband and with its success over the years, they were able to employ hundreds of people, some of whom later turned against her and became her tormentors.

She led an affluent life by all standards and together they built a big house in Mosocho, Kisii County. At the time she drove a good car.

All this is now is like a dream and the distraught woman only has bad memories of her past.

We meet her at her small shop set up in an old container in Gesonso, Kisii County, where she now sells second hand clothes, cereals and operates an M-Pesa outlet.

“A stranger, now friend, who was moved by my plight after watching my story on YouTube opened this small business for me,” says Ms Gesare, noting that she now lives in a single room.

Ms Gesare, 42, cannot see her children because her husband denied her access despite a Nairobi court granting her access.

Every time a friend or relative gives her information of how her children are ‘suffering’, she goes back to depression and has to be put on anti-depressants.

When the Daily Nation visited her at her shop last Wednesday, she had just received news that her firstborn child, a son, who had been enrolled at Metropolitan College, in Nairobi, had been forcefully taken to the National Youth Service by his father.

She says her third born child, now aged seven, does not stay with her father, currently based in Kisii, and has been forced to live with her step-mother’s sister in Nairobi.

“Why would any human being of sound mind do that? Can’t he give me my children I take care of them?” wonders Ms Gesare, adding that she has not seen her children for two years now.

She adds that their performance in school has deteriorated because they are emotionally disturbed.

Physical and emotional abuse

Her husband married another woman, whose brother is their business partner.

Her husband is said to have told their children that their mother had gone berserk and is a witch, and that they should desist from interacting with her.

Ms Gesare had, during her good years with her husband, featured on media several times for her philanthropy.

She has a heart for orphans, needy children and other people in need of help.

She did not hesitate to help when she could, and back in her matrimonial and maternal homes, people she supported are also suffering.

Her adopted daughter, who recently graduated from the Kenya Medical Training College with a diploma in nursing, was denied her certificate by Ms Gesare’s husband.

“My heart is bleeding for my very own children and those whom I supported. I am pleading that he gives the girl her certificate and leave her out of our mess,” says Ms Gesare who is a trained nurse-aid from Matata College in Homa Bay County.

She says physical, verbal and emotional abuse, infidelity, accusations that she is a murderer and a witch are the main causes of her marital problems.

“I am very religious. Sadly, I was not prepared to deal with the problems in my marriage. It is too heavy on me, but I am trying to cope,” says Ms Gesare who also accuses her husband of having affairs with her close friends, workmates and even relatives.

She notes that she was on several occasions arrested and locked up in police cells following flimsy accusations by her husband.