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This university student is desperate to trace his extended family

August 24th, 2015 2 min read

My name is Ishmael Chacha, a 21-year-old orphan, and I am asking for a favour of you: please help connect me with my mother’s family.

Can you find someone, anyone, who may have known a Teso woman called Sofia? Sofia who hailed from Busia, studied at Maryhill Girls in the early 1990s then married a GSU officer from the Kuria community?

That Sofia is my mother. She died in 1996 when I was only three years old. And the General Service Unit officer Tobias Motongori is my father, who died in 2003.

My father died before he could connect me to any of my mother’s kin, and because nobody else seems to have any useful leads, the only feasible option I have is to use the mass media. That is why I am here.


This is the most I have gathered about my late mother’s story: She fell in love with my father while she was in primary school. They met while dad was on some assignment in Busia. My father, so smitten by this girl who people say was a dark-skinned beauty, convinced her family to let him pay her secondary school fees.

A one-time family friend of my father, George Chacha, tells me that during holidays, my mother would live with my father at his police house in Ruaraka.

Chacha says my father was so in love that he even converted to Islam as my mother’s was a Muslim family. It is after she completed her secondary education that I was conceived.

I came to this world on November 28, 1993. From then on, my life has been one bumpy ride. Dad later quit the police service and would become a chief in Kuria East up to the time of his death.

After his death, I won the sympathy of a priest at the Timaru Catholic Parish who housed me till I sat KCPE in 2007 at St Anne’s Academy. During this period, I occasionally visited home.


More blessings would come my way because I won a scholarship to New Dawn Orphans’ School in Laikipia, where I sat KCSE in 2011, scoring an A-. This September, I will be starting my third year of study at Chuka University College, where I am pursuing computer science.

The worst bit about my life is that there is little I can call mine in this world. I am not living at the homestead my father left behind because there were wrangles over land ownership.

During the chaos, all the property in the house was taken away. Nothing was left for me to inherit. Not a photo of my parents, not a piece of furniture . . . nothing. I have been moving up and down chasing dad’s pension and I hope all will go well.

Whenever we break for holidays from Chuka University College, I have no home to go to like most of my colleagues. I pack my bags and go to the home of my friend Malon in Buruburu Phase One. I am so grateful that his father Dickson Marwa agreed to have me stay in his house in the meantime.

But for how long? For how long will I live with the uncertainty? I wish to be connected to my late mother’s family because I am at a point of my life where I believe that that is the only place I can find closure.

(As told to Elvis Ondieki, Email: