Showers of blessings turn into curse of a deluge as skies open

Rains pound Nairobi

A man attempts to unclog a blocked drainage system along Moi Avenue after a Thursday afternoon downpour left a number of city streets flooded on March 23. 

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

As millions of Kenyans celebrated the return of the rains after a long dry spell, residents of Zambia Estate in Ngong, Kajiado County, were left aggrieved by raging floods. 

The usual pitter-patter of raindrops began hitting their roofs at 11 pm on Wednesday night but, two hours later, the calmness was replaced by a deep concern sparked by a message posted by retired Reverend Timothy Njoya on the residents association’s WhatsApp group. 

“ [It’s] 1:30 am and water has overflowed into our house. We are busy removing books ... carpets and [other] items [and taking them] from the lower floor to the upper floor. This is the second time [that] water [is flooding] our house,” the cleric told his neighbours in the message that he signed off: “Yours in Christ, Rev Timothy Njoya.” 

Torrents of messages

Torrents of messages followed. Other residents were also experiencing flooding. Raw sewage was swept into homes by a roaring River Ngong that surged mightily past their houses. 

A faulty culvert built over the river was summarily found guilty of causing the chaos by mortified residents. With the unprecedented amount of rainfall, the river was filled to the brim. The huge volume of water and debris collected from an abandoned landfill a kilometre away quickly choked the small space and overflowed, gushing beyond the river bank and into people’s houses.

Reverend Timothy Njoya at his library at Karinyo Rock Gardens in Zambia Estate, Ngong

Reverend Timothy Njoya at his library at Karinyo Rock Gardens in Zambia Estate, Ngong on March 23, 2023. Njoya is counting losses after his library was flooded after Wednesday's heavy downpour. PHOTO BY WILFRED NYANGARESI/ NATION

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

The water filled the lower floors, forcing frightened families to carry whatever they could to the upper floors where they barricaded themselves, praying for the nightmare to end. 

Dressed in a blue floral shirt, grey pants and black gumboots with his right hand holding a tall bamboo stick, Rev Njoya had gone without sleep for over 14 hours by the time Nation caught up with him at the culvert, directing a group of youths who were shovelling aside debris that had spilt onto the road.

A green excavator was scouring the river bed for more garbage. 

“I am very tired but I cannot go back to the house until the debris blocking the space beneath this culvert is removed and the water can pass to ease pressure on our flooded houses,” he said with a determined look. 

Dire cost

For Rev Njoya, the flooding of his Karinyo Rock Garden home, which also houses the offices of his Men for the Equality of Man and Woman charitable organisation, has come at a dire cost. 

His office houses his famous library, which hosts veritable troves of wisdom and knowledge. 

By mid-morning, he confirmed that he had lost books worth Sh1.4 million, most of which he imported from different universities across the world. 

The majority of the books were prized volumes on political science, a subject he loves dearly and which he holds a doctorate in. 

“All the books on the lower shelves in this library are now useless. I have lost so much knowledge and content on the history of politics in Kenya, China, Russia, South Africa, the USA and several other countries. I always refer to these books when giving lectures,” he said. 

Reverend Timothy Njoya at his flooded compound in Ngong

Reverend Timothy Njoya at his flooded compound in Ngong on March 23, 2023. His house was flooded after a heavy downpour on Wednesday night. 

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

Apart from the imported books, others in his prized collection that bore the brunt of the deluge include “The Crisis of Explosive Masculinity”, “We the People: The Divine Tag of Democracy” and “The Divinity of the Clitoris”. 

“Losing these books makes me feel like the younger generation will miss critical information about masculinity and gender equality. This is really bad,” he said. Not far from Rev Njoya’s house, Mr Mike Barine narrated how the river raged furiously, navigating around the bridge and blocking the roads.

So bad was it that his two children could not go to school yesterday, marooned in spite of the family’s heavy-duty off-road pickup truck. 

“The culverts in this area are really bad. They were built so low, it’s almost like they did not consider that this river would at times overflow. Now our activities have been put on a standstill,” Mr Barine lamented. 

This is the second time that floods are hitting the area since 2018 after a similar episode of heavy rains rocked the county. Their frantic calls for assistance from the county government, the Kenya National Highways Authority and the Kenya Urban Roads Authority fell on deaf ears. 

“I have called everyone, including the area MP, MCA as well as Kenha and Kura but a permanent solution has not been arrived at. I just wish someone more caring would listen to us,” Rev Njoya concluded. 

The country, which is emerging from a two-year-long drought and has not seen steady rainfall, has in the past one week been experiencing heavy downpours.