Budding Music Star Died in Kakamega School Tragedy - Mother Grieves

The Kakamega Primary School accident that happened on Monday, February 3, leaving 14 students dead remains etched in memory for parents of the departed souls.

Mactilda Musimbi is a parent with a broken heart after losing her daughter, Antonette Iramwenya, who was a student in Class Five at the institution.

Like her mother, Antonette was a talented singer whom many times used her gift in school, making her an all-time award winner.

A photo of the late Antonette Iramwenya(Left) and her mother Mactilda Musimbi

“At school, she loved music; she has my blood. I too was involved in music up to college level. She has in the recent and far past represented Kakamega Primary School to the national level as a choral verse performer in music festivals. Academically, she was good. She was always among the top five performers in her class.

“I have very many basins and buckets in my house that my daughter brought me, either through her musical talent or academic gift," remarked Mactilda.

Even at home, Antonette was a gem, treasured by her family for a great personality that charmed everyone who came her way.

“I remember in 2016 when I was expectant with my youngest daughter, she told me ‘mum, I will bring you a bucket or a basin so that you will be using it to wash our baby’. And true to her words, she brought me the bucket she had promised. It is a large green bucket that I am using to date.

“Late last week, she told me that she wanted a laptop bag. I bought it, and handed it over to her on Sunday, February 2, added Mactilda.

According to the mother, an hour before the accident she had left her lovely daughter in a jovial mood only for her not to see the end of the day.

“Antonette is my fourth child and the third daughter in my family. She was born on May 13, 2009. She was healthy, and nothing suggested anything life-threatening would happen to her soon.

“On the fateful Monday (February 3), I woke up at 5 a.m. and prepared breakfast for Antonette and her elder sister, who is in Class Seven at the same school. After taking their meal, I saw the girls off to school.

“Later in the day, I went to my daughters’ school because parents whose children are in Class Seven were scheduled to meet the school administration at 10 a.m. After the successful meeting, I stayed at the school, where I met other teachers who are my friends.

“Twenty minutes to 4 p.m. I was still at Kakamega Primary School,” remarked Mactilda.

Antonette, who was described as a bright daughter saw her mother off, marking the last time they would see each other.

“I remember visiting Antonette’s classroom a few minutes past 3 p.m. In her classroom, I met her and her teacher who is my friend.

“After the brief meeting, my daughter and her elder sister — a pupil in Class Seven — saw me off at the school’s main gate, where they bid me bye. I remember I left my girls 20 minutes to 4 p.m.

And, because there were signs that the rains would fall soon, I hailed a boda boda home,” remarked the parent.

"As usual, Antonette was to be picked from school by a boda boda rider who received the shocker first after finding out about the tragedy that had befallen the students.

“Shortly after getting home, a boda boda guy who picks my daughters from school every evening called me on the phone and said ‘madam, I am at Kakamega Primary School’s main gate, and I am not seeing Antonette. However, I am seeing an ambulance taking several pupils to hospital’.

“While still on call with the boda boda rider, Antonette’s teacher called, and I ended the first conversation to speak to the teacher who asked whether my daughter had gotten home,” added Mactilda.

What followed remained to be the saddest part of her life as she tried to come to terms with what had transpired at the school.

“My maternal instincts told me to rush to Kakamega County Referral Hospital, where I looked on all beds that the children had been placed, and none had my girl on it.

“On the floor of the hospital’s mortuary, were children who had already died, and when I looked, my girl was the first among the 14 who were lying dead. She was in blue. Watching that was very painful, it still is. I can only pray to God to give us the strength to go through this difficult period of our lives,” wished Mactilda.

Parents of pupils who died in a stampede at Kakamega Primary School after identifying bodies of their children at the Kakamega Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary on February 4, 2020.

During a visit on Tuesday, February 4, Education CS George Magoha toured the facility where he indicated that two of the deceased were in Class Four, whereas the remaining 12 were in Class Five.

Magoha also reported that the total student population at the school was 3,128, with 296 enrolled in the early childhood education programme.

In a statement read by the Deputy President William Ruto, the government pledged to foot all the hospital expenses for the injured and also cater for the burial expenses of the students who lost their lives.

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