Esther Ndiramu Karai

Esther was a tricky lady to interview; we had a summary of her story before we spoke and thought she might be interesting woman in the community.

At first glance, Esther seems to be in her late 40’s or early 50’s, a little withdrawn and like she’s been through it. I asked her how old she was, “23,” and thought that I heard wrong, so I asked her again, “How old are you?” “23” she said again, deadpan. I had to move on, “are you married?” She got married in 1988 at 15 years old, I tried not to look as confused as I felt with the numbers and proceeded.

She waited five years to get a child and when they finally did get their baby boy, he fell sick at 9 months and died two days later. Shortly after that, she conceived their second child, their daughter who is now 15 years old, by now I’m not sure what numbers to trust and asking for clarifications was starting to make me look like I have a hearing defect. “Five years later, I was blessed with a baby boy, who is now 10 years old,” much to their relief.

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Soon after her second child, her husband, who had patiently waited for her to conceive, took on another woman as his second wife and immediately moved her in to their home and changed their life forever. He took favour to his younger, second wife and quickly pushed her aside, denying her, her conjugal rights, money to support her children and their home, and instead giving his younger wife her share, and beating her senseless for small mistakes sometimes made by his new bride.

Frustrated of being treated as less than, she packed up her bags and her two children, who were also no longer welcome, and moved out. She requested, then begged for child support from the father of her children, but all her pleas were swatted away with irritation. She took to farming on her father’s land so she could support her family and attempt to take her children to school. Her journey has come with its share of trials and moments where she has been tempted to give up but her children are her motivation, they push her to be better, to farm harder, to sell her produce faster.

She will probably stay single, marrying again would work against her children, few men would take her up and support her children as if they were hers. In their culture, children with a living father are his responsibility, not of her next husband. Her husband’s second wife gave him six other children.



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