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Young, but taking parenthood head-on

Abiathar Gichuhi and Nuru Mnjama may not have planned for a baby in their 20s. But they fell in love with him and have taken responsibility even as they further their education and professional careers

Parenthood is not a priority for many people just getting into their 20s. Generally, many in that age are still in university or perhaps getting a taste of independence with their first jobs on the cards. But for 21-year-old Abiathar Gichuhi and his 20-year-old partner Nuru Mnjama, they are juggling between raising their child, school and doing music.

Abiathar is an instrumentalist for a fast-rising Kenyan band, The
Movement
. Nuru, is a singer and songwriter besides being a university student. They had been dating for a while when Nuru realised she was expectant late 2016. Abiathar had already decided to take a gap year from his second semester at Strathmore University to launch his music career, which was his ultimate passion. Nuru was on her third semester at Riara University studying business administration.

Unfortunately, the young lovers had broken up by the time Nuru realised she was expectant. So, breaking the news to Abiathar over the phone was a tricky ordeal for her. In disbelief, he demanded for a paternity test.

“I felt I had let my parents down. I felt I brought shame to my mother and that she would be blamed for not raising me well. I had a discussion with my sister and she assured me that no matter what, she had my back. I felt I was not alone,” she recalls. Nuru’s mum was, however, understanding, but was strict in wanting to know what kind of man had impregnated her.

Abiathar’s father on the other hand had to bite his tongue for three days on hearing his only son would be a dad before having a sit-down with him on the matter. His mum was, however, happy she would be a grandmum.

Nuru welcomed her baby, Kian Karama, in June 2017. Three weeks after the baby was born, Abiathar had slowly digested the news and had come to terms with the fact that he was now a father. He describes that moment he held the fruit of his loins for the first time in his hands as breathtaking, something he had never felt before as the baby cried out aloud.

“Having a child when we had gone separate ways helped us grow up significantly on our own and ultimately avoided what would have been a highly dysfunctional and codependent relationship had we not broken up,” Nuru says.

Life had to change drastically for her, especially ‘mentally’. She loves spending time with her now one-year-old son, feeding him, playing, and changing him, only finding some scanty time for school work in the evenings. “What is me time?’’ Nuru rhetorically asks.

But her mother has been her support system. However, Nuru says she is combative raising her child as she takes time to nurture him with an eye open. She wouldn’t want a situation where Kian wouldn’t know her as the mother, or just losing out on the child’s affection to her mum (Kian’s grandmother) who equally loves and spoils the little bundle of joy.

With a thick and unpredictable schedule, Abiathar’s in demand band allows him to slot quality time on Sundays as his family day with his son. He spends the rest of the week making ends meet to provide for the child.

A unique approach this duo curates is having a YouTube channel, Nurthar where they discuss their parenthood challenges and tribulations, highlighting a generational transition in how young parents can choose to resolve issues in this age. “We want people to deal with these issues better in future. Currently, we are on the trail to moving in together, it’s just the financial side we are sorting out. Even if our parents help us a lot, you always want to retain that identity of a mum by pouring into your own cup,” says Nuru.

Nuru went back to school literally six weeks ago. She’s taking an online course that works perfectly with her schedule as a mum and making her come back in her music industry. “I am studying songwriting, a course I’m passionate about—I guess for that reason, you could say all the bad worked out for good. Because I would not have followed my heart had I not dropped out of Riara,” she adds.

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