James Kabue ran away from his home in Kiamuri village to escape the wrath of his family and lived on the streets for sometime
James Kabue sits uneasily as his eyes dart from side to side like a haunted man. His words are measured, but his frail body and missing tooth tell a story of a man who has been through a traumatic experience.
Kabue in his forties hails from Murang’a county in Gakuyu, Kiamuri village. He was at one time forced to live on the streets to escape a 30-year-old abusive marriage. It is clearly not easy for him to admit that his wife and children abuse him because it is considered a taboo, in a society where the man is known to perpetrate abuse.
According to a report by the National Crime Research Centre (NCRC) 2015 gender violence against men is on the rise. The report indicated that the prevalence rate was 48.8 per cent for men and 40 per cent for women.
Kabue’s woes started in 1993, after a disagreement with his wife. She went back to her parents’ home and returned three years later. When they reconciled she was pregnant with another man’s child, but Kabue accepted her back for the sake of his two children. In 1998, after building a home for his family, trouble started again because Kabue did not have a stable job.
“After four years without a steady job, I got one in a shop in Embu and I was able to provide for my family,” he said. In 2005, Kabue suffered a stroke and his employers took him to Nairobi Hospital for treatment.
He was later laid off because of his condition and he went back home to recover. “The first statement I got from my wife was: Why are you back, who is going to take care of us?” His wife allegedly taunted Kabue endlessly, telling him there were better men out there who had money and could take care of her. That’s when their first fight happened.
“She was able to beat me because I was unwell. I reported the incident to my parents, but there was nothing they could do,” he said. The beatings continued and the worst incident happened last year, when his wife picked a fight with him.
It was on December 28, 2016. His wife alleged that he had confiscated her mobile phone; a scuffle ensued leaving Kabue with serious injuries. “With my hands tied, one of my sons came in and beat both my legs with a piece of wood.
The excruciating pain made me scream, and they let me go, since they didn’t want to alert the neighbours. My eldest son also came in and he demanded that I give up the phone. He then broke the door and left.
The following morning, Kabue reported the matter to the police at Gaturi police base, where they wrote a report. At that time, his wife and sons had already fled the homestead with all the belongings.
The following week they returned and the police came in to take their report. They took photos of the destroyed property, but said there was not much they could do since it was a family matter.
Kabue stayed with his family until March this year when the ill-treatment from his wife and children became unbearable. He fled his home and lived on the streets of Nairobi.
That’s where he met Bishop JM Njenga who accomodated him and took him to hospital. He has refused to go back to his home claiming his life is in danger.He opted to live with his parents where he is on medication. Efforts to get his wife’s side of the story were futile as her mobile phone went unanswered.