Return of the Prodigal Son: Jubilations As ‘Lost’ Son Is Reunited With Family 14 Years Later.

Andrew Kinuthia Njoroge (in white shirt) talk t the press, franked by his mother Nancy Mumbi (extreme left), younger sister and brother during his homecoming.
In the year 2004, Andrew Kinuthia Njoroge’s family had no idea what happened to him after he disappeared. Fourteen years later, a once disoriented young man shows up at their home in Munandai-ni, Nguthuru Sub-Location, Kandara Constituency of Murang’a County claiming to be their long lost son.

The news of his return brought the entire village into jubilation on Wednesday as majority of the people had presumed the worst for this son of the soil.

His mother Nancy Mumbi Njoroge, could not hide her joy as she narrated how her son knocked her door that evening.

“When he introduced himself as my son, I called his name thrice just to be sure that I was speaking to the right person. It is long since I saw him. He left home as a small boy and I had to be sure that this was not a dream,” said the joyful mother.

Mumbi says that on that fateful day, she left home in the morning for casual labour only to miss her son in the evening. Their search for the boy was fruitless, days after visiting various police stations, hospitals and morgues in the region. Eventually, the family retired to fate but just asked God to perform a miracle that would have brought him back to them, either dead or alive.

“What pained me is that by the time of his disappearance, no one in the family had issues with Kinuthia to warrant his disappearance. This made us believe that the worst had happened to him but something kept telling me that I would find him one day. I therefore do not know how to thank God for today’s developments,” said Mumbi.

On his part, Kinuthia said that he left for Nairobi after he could not withstand the hardships he had to live with at home due to poverty. He went to Huruma slums where he ended up being in the streets. Occasionally, he would join the estate youth in football but this did not bring food to the table.

“When I realised that I had difficulties feeding myself, I resulted to being a parking boy where drivers would give us tips for helping them park their cars and put away other boys who were in the habit of vandalising the vehicles. But this money was just peanuts, so I eventually joined a group of young men who were mugging people for a living,” said Kinuthia.

His life as a mugger was never a bag of roses as he in many occasions escaped death by a whisker. He survived to see many of his accomplices die via the police bullet or through mob justice. This disturbed him so much and many a times, he wished that he could change his ways.

He eventually opted out the criminal life after receiving so many death threats from the police who warned him that they would shoot him on sight regardless of whether they had caught him in the act or not.

“I decided to scavenge plastics for a living. In the process, I started taking glue to relieve my stress. This went on for a while before I started abusing other hard drugs. Eventually, I got addicted and ended up being a zombie,” he narrated.

Kinuthia was rescued by an NGO, The Homeless of Nairobi, who took him to a rehab centre for a period of three months. Upon full recovery, the organisation took him to Makueni where he served as a shop assistant before the business collapsed. Having nothing to do, he returned to Nairobi where the NGO readmitted him and later took him to a driving school. He has recently graduated and is now waiting for his licence.

“I requested the management to allow me visit my family over this Christmas as I was already missing to see them. I thank the Director Mr. Clifford Oluoch for were it not for him, I wouldn’t be talking to you as I am doing now. I would either be rotting down in drugs or even dead by now,” he added.

He plans to settle down soon and probably start a family of his own. He appealed to his fellow youth to stay away from crime and drugs as their results were dire.

Ndung’u Kahungura, human rights activist in the area promised to assist Kinuthia secure a job soon after he got his licence as a way of protecting him from backsliding into his wayward past.

“I will personally talk to a few friends who will help him get a job as soon as he gets his driver’s licence. I plead to the society to accept such people back as it is in such gestures that we help them to reform,” said Ndung’u.

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