Nairobi News

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How one man watched his three children die in dam tragedy from tree top

When Mr Joseph Gathogo decided to buy meat for his family in the evening of Wednesday, his intention was to brighten their faces with a delicious meal. He actually prepared it for them when he took it home, as his four children gazed with awe.

Mr Gathogo, a bodaboda operator had promised his children a ‘present’ during the day and he had finally availed it. It was about 6.30pm and the time for supper was nearing by the minute.

However, his decision to go back to work for some minutes to earn more money marked the last time he would ever see his children in a happy mood.

“After slicing the meat for them, I decided to go back to work to see if I could get at least a client. In five minutes, I found a client and ferried him to the next village,” said Mr Gathogo.

But when he was coming back, he decided to check on his mother and upon entering her home, he was served with food.


“Even before I could take the first spoon, we heard a loud bang on top of the hill. We all got out and after a brief conversation, we realised it could have been a dam that had exploded,” recalled Mr Gathogo.

Immediately, his wife called him to enquire if he had heard the loud sound, but unfortunately, before he could ask her to evacuate their four children to a safer place, her phone went dead.

Forgetting the meal he had been served, Mr Gathogo rushed to his motorbike and speedily rode towards his home to save his family.

“I felt there was danger ahead and so the first thing that hit my mind was saving my wife and four children. I drove very fast,” he recalled.

He remembered how as he sped towards his home, the rumbling of the water increased and its intensity horrifying.


By the time he arrived at the gate of his home, the water had reached him. He saw his wife rushing out of the house carrying two children but even before they could go anywhere, they were swept away.

His wife survived after the water carried her to a safer place. However, their three children, one who was a month old, did not survive the tragedy that has shaken the nation.

On Friday, Mr Gathogo identified three of his children at the Bahati sub county mortuary but one was still missing.

He was left with nothing, not the property he owned nor the children he had worked hard to brighten their lives. All he has now is his wife.

“All my children were swept away as I watched after climbing a tree to save my life. I have been left without any belonging. I am just the way I was born. Even the clothes I am wearing are donations,” he said.