20 years ago, Susan Waweru wanted for nothing. Not that she lived a life of opulence, but as the youngest child in a family of four, her parents provided for all that she could need. In 1996, her family moved from Nairobi to their 15-acre farm in Kiambu. Susan's mother had retired from her nursing career at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and wanted to live out her sunset years away from the city. Their father obliged because he too wanted to be close to the farm where he was rearing dairy cattle.
"That was when our woes started. Thieves started attacking our home regularly," says Susan.
At first, her father and the night watch guards were able to repel the constant break-ins. Unfortunately, her father was taken ill with a severe case of food poisoning. He was finally discharged from the hospital, weak but looking forward to a full recovery. The very night, he came home and all hell broke loose!
"We didn't know how they got wind that my father was unwell. To make matters worse, more thugs decided to join in on the raid. When they started out, about 10 would try to break in, but this time round, the number had ballooned to 30," she explains.
It was 2am on Saturday, August 31, 1996. The perpetrators first scaled the wall. Hacksaws, machetes and stones in hand, they marched towards the main house. They cut off the power to the house, smashed the windows using the stones and began sawing away at the grills. By this time, the house's occupants were fully alert and were completely terrified. The man they depended on could not do anything due to medically induced weakness. The family's fierce dogs did not bark one bit. Susan suspects that they had been poisoned.
"The guards could not help because they were in another part of the farm. While still trying to gain entry into the house, a car passed by the road. The thugs ran away because they thought we had alerted the police," says Susan.
Sensing that their chance for escape had come, the family quickly got out of the house. But, that was the only break their lucky streak could afford them because the robbers came back. They had realised that it wasn't the police on their trail. Instinctively, they went for Susan's father whose foot had been caught by barbed wire while making a run for it.
"They rained blows on him using machetes," Susan says. Her elder brother suffered the same fate. Their mother was beaten up and her fingers were broken. After the hour-long ordeal, neighbours rushed the three to Aga Khan Hospital. Her father unfortunately passed away. The brother and mother were admitted for one and two weeks, respectively. Nothing was stolen from the family.
On the day that their father was to be buried, Susan's mother fell sick. "She had hypertension and diabetes. She was rushed to Kijabe Hospital but later died. My dad's funeral was on Wednesday and we buried her on Friday of the same week."
Left to fend for themselves, life became really difficult for the four children. Her father's businesses crumbled because there was no one to manage them. They opted to move back to Nairobi where a pastor hosted them. They could not bear the heartache of the farm anymore.
After she completed high school in 1998, Susan turned to odd jobs for survival. Her move was occasioned by the arrival of her son. She turned to washing people's clothes for money, a task she couldn't have envisioned doing before her parents' untimely demise.
She later managed to enroll into college where she studied front office management and catering. But in 2005, another crashing blow came!
"I was at home watching the news when a certain story piqued my interest. A man had killed his pregnant wife and their 12-year-old daughter in Kikuyu town over a domestic issue. The villagers had lynched the man. Taking a closer look, I saw that the victim was my elder sister!" Susan laments.
"Both my sister and niece had been hacked to death. I tried to remain strong but the emotions took over, especially during the funeral ceremony."
Over the years, Susan dealt with her grief, knowing that she had a whole lot to live for.
In 2014, Susan established Sue Mobilic Chefs, a mobile catering firm that deals in house warming parties, weddings and among other festivities. She says that business has not been bad.
Her other sister is married and lives in Eldoret, while their brother lives and works in Nairobi. The three siblings were able to take complete ownership of the farm but have since rented it out to other people for farming.
Susan says that she long forgave all the perpetrators who caused her family so much pain. To her, it doesn't matter anymore that police investigations into the two crimes have revealed absolutely nothing. "I cannot hold grudges forever because all it brings is never-ending pain.