Boy, 11, searches for his missing father

Published on 03/02/2009

By Amos Kareithi

The boy looks lost among the gigantic blue gum trees as he moves from one heap of ash to another, checking every rag he comes across.

Ordinarily, the youth, Bishop Ogendi, 11, would be at Mtoni Farm near Molo town but on this Sunday afternoon, he is looking for his father among a pile of corpses.

“I last saw my father on Saturday morning, when he left for Kibunja trading centre. We waited for him in the evening, but he did not come back. My mother (Monica Kwamboka) sent me here to look for him,” he says.

Ogendi has been in the ‘evil’ forest for the last two hours, but he is yet to locate his father’s remains.

Bishop Ogendi, 11, whose missing father is suspected to be among those who died in the explosion.

Exhausted, he leaves and walks down the main road to the Kenya Red Cross Society tent about 100 metres from the scene of the horrific explosion. Inside, Alison Fundi, 42, is registered as missing and a likely victim of the Sachang’wan fire disaster.

“Fundi is needed home urgently. (Yesterday) we were supposed to bury his two-year-old son who had died earlier. And now he goes missing. This is a real misfortune. His wife is devastated,” Ms Teresia Nyaboke, Kwamboka’s neighbour, explains.

Nyaboke, 47, accompanied Ogendi in the search for his father.

Lucky stars

She, however, dreads confirmation that he is in hospital or even dead.

The boy and his guardian walk out of the camp confused, without knowing whether to call off the child’s burial, scheduled to take place at Molo Public Cemetery.

“A lot of internally displaced persons have been hard hit by this tragedy. Fundi left Salgaa during the post-election skirmishes.

“If the unthinkable happens, his family will suffer,” the woman adds.

As she and the boy return to Molo, they encounter more than 500 people camping outside the site, waiting to know the fate of their relatives.

A woman, who declines to give her name, thanks her lucky stars for cheating death on Saturday.

raging fire

Although she is visiting a neighbour, she recalls fetching two buckets of fuel, only to find a raging fire as she returned for the third.

“You cannot imagine how lucky I was. I even managed to sell one of the buckets to a motorist in the morning. I do not think I will ever go near a tanker again. Wacha pesa ikae (Forget about the money).”

Perhaps the same thoughts are running through many of the survivors’ minds.

Maybe next time around, people will think twice before rushing toward an overturned oil tanker.

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