When Shabaab bullet shattered couple’s dream
Kenya: Due to Lt Kevin Webi’s numerous visits to Moi University to meet his girlfriend Rachael Masika, a student at the institution, her classmates nicknamed him “Afande”.
During one of his visits, the lovebirds left Eldoret together for Nanyuki. The following day, they went to Sherlock’s Bistro, a popular joint at Nakumatt’s Nanyuki Mall, for a karaoke night.
Webi took the microphone and sang a rendition of one of the most beautiful, moving and powerful songs, You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban.
The MC called out Rachael’s name after Webi was done singing. Then, out of the blue, four men from Webi’s military church band sauntered in and started singing some funny songs, Rachael recalls. “Then I saw my man go down on his knees and ask if I would marry him.”
A military man was on the floor, on bended knee, holding out an engagement ring in one hand. It was all too surreal. The huge, noisy crowd of revellers suddenly went silent. “All eyes were on me,” Rachael recalls. “Yes!” she replied.
Weeks later, Webi was posted to Somalia. “He called me on the day he was leaving for Somalia but lied that he was going to North Eastern (province),” she says.
They spoke almost every day. They spoke about fixing a wedding day and probable names for their children. “On December 22, 2011, he spoke to me from Garissa.
He said he was trained for what he was going to do and that I should not be worried. “On the Sunday that he died, I called him over his post on Facebook,” she says. “He refused to delete it but instead ended the conversation by asking me to pray for him.”
On the morning of January 23, 2012, Rachael arrived late for her lectures. Her classmates kept stealing glances at her and speaking in low tones.
“I remember one lady in particular who looked visibly surprised to see me in class that morning,” Rachael recalls. “She was not a very good friend of mine but on this day she came and sat next to me.”
By the time the lecturer arrived, the hall was filled with a feeling of awkwardness and she could not comprehend what her class mates were whispering about.
Bored with the lecture, she logged into her Facebook account with her mobile phone. “There were 119 unread inbox messages. That shocked me,” she recalls. “When I got into my timeline, I could not see my last Facebook update but instead hundreds of condolence messages.”
She stood up and went out of the class and fainted. When she came to, she found herself in the school nursing facility. Kevin was dead.
It’s now over two years since that dark moment in her life. But she is yet to forget the man she loved. Webi was buried on February 1, 2012, at his family home in Ndalala, Trans Nzoia
. “I have never forgiven myself for refusing to have his child when he wanted. At least I would have something to remember him by,” she says with teary eyes
There are days when Webi insisted that they should consider having a child, a request that she often turned down.
Webi had also suggested a civil wedding officiated by a District Officer before the official wedding after her graduation. Webi wanted their marriage in December but Rachael’s father would not let her get married before completing her education.
After discussing this bitterly over the phone, they agreed that they would have the wedding on May 12, 2012, after completing her undergraduate studies. “In my sleep, I dream of apologising to Kevin for not agreeing to give him a child,” Rachael reveals.
Pius Webi, Kevin’s father, feels that the Kenya Defence Forces should never have gone to Somalia. Instead, he says, they should have protected the country by sealing off the borders.
“How do you defend? You defend from within. You cannot defend a country from another place. If the Kenyan army stayed at the border, they would still be defending their country. But when you are in someone’s territory, how do you defend?” he asked.
By PAUL WAFULA and NYAMBEGA GISESA