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17Sep/080

Re: A very touching story indeed! God, please come closer to this family!

By Vincent Bartoo

When Mark Kipyego Sugut, 32, sent his relatives to represent him in dowry negotiations, nothing had prepared him for tragedy.

Sugut asked his mother, Milka Chesumei, to lead an engagement party of nine to Mihu, Bungoma District, to seek fiancÈe, Diana Khaira's hand in marriage.

Sugut, who is from a humble family, stayed home, as the dowry costs would have been higher if he was present during the negotiations.

"According to the customs of my fiancÈe's Tachoni community, I would have been compelled to give more in dowry if I was there," he said.

The customs, however, allow relatives to represent the suitor.
Mr Mark Sugut with his relatives at his mother's grave.

PHOTOS: PETER OCHIENG
 
It was Tuesday, September 2, when Sugut's mother, his brother, Daniel Kogo and his wife, Rosebella, and two sisters, Salina Tuwei and Rael Chepkemoi, prepared for the big day. They were joined by Sugut's five neighbours whose assistance Sugut had sought to help the family in the dowry negotiations.

"Since we did not have money to hire a vehicle, we escorted them to the main Eldoret-Webuye highway to board a bus to Bungoma," said Sugut.

Sugut and his younger sister, Hellen Rotich, stayed home praying for good news of fruitful negotiations between the two families.

"I communicated with them on their mobile phones, to find out if they had arrived well and on time," says Sugut.

The engagement party arrived safely at Mihu and got down to the business of the day.

We have a wife

"I called again at about 2pm and my mother told me they were concluding the talks," he says.

He went on: "At 5pm, I called again and my mother was so overjoyed. She told me they had found a wife for me. I was so happy."

Because it was late, Sugut's in-laws asked two of their family members to escort the engagement party back home.

"When they got to Webuye, they called me to say there were no buses heading to Eldoret as it was late," says Sugut.

But the 11 members of the engagement party caught the eye of a matatu crew, which offered to transport them although they had concluded the day's business.

They boarded the vehicle and called Sugut to say they had been lucky to get a matatu.

"They asked us to meet them at a junction on the Webuye-Eldoret highway since they would arrive around 8pm," says Sugut.

Sugut and his sister, Hellen, waited in vain for the party and at 8pm, they got apprehensive and decided to call.

After making frantic calls without response, Sugut started suspecting something was amiss.

"I informed families of the neighbours who had accompanied my family," he said.

They would, however, receive a chilling telephone call from a Good Samaritan who broke the distressing news that the engagement party had been involved in a serious accident.

voice of the caller

"I was shocked. My knees weakened and I almost collapsed," says a distraught Sugut who pauses as if hearing the voice of the caller being replayed.

Accompanied by his uncles, Sugut hitched a ride to the accident spot.

"I did not know what to expect. I was anxious and at the same time afraid of what lay ahead," he said.

But on arrival, Sugut and his uncles were met with the devastating reality that only his sister, Rael, had survived the accident.

The accident occurred near Kaburengu trading centre, a few kilometres from Webuye town.

Bungoma OCPD Maurice Matano blamed a stalled tractor, which had been abandoned on the road, for the accident.

The public transport vehicle Sugut's relatives were travelling in, tried to avoid hitting the stationery tractor before it collided head on with an oncoming matatu.

With tears filling his eyes, Sugut painfully says he is yet to come to terms with the tragedy that befell him on a day he was supposed to be celebrating.
The driver of the tractor, the OCPD said, did not put any sign on the road to warn other motorists of a stalled vehicle ahead.

Matano also said the two matatus involved in the accident could have been over speeding judging from the mangled wreckage of the vehicles.

He said five men and eight women died on the spot. Two other victims, a man and a woman, died as doctors at the Webuye hospital attended to them.

With tears filling his eyes, Sugut painfully says he is yet to come to terms with the tragedy that befell him on a day he was supposed to be celebrating.

"I have lost my mother who was the sole bread winner of the family. My brother and his wife who perished have also left orphans," he said.

Fresh grave

Sugut also said that following the tragedy; his fiancÈe went into shock and was rushed to Lugulu Mission Hospital in Bungoma.

"It has been a trying time for me, making arrangements to bury those who perished and at the same time taking care of those in hospital," he says.

The family, however, is grateful for the assistance by Mosop MP David Koech and Nandi North DC Fredrick Ndambuki, who came to their aid.

"The two organised a harambee that raised Sh400,000 and provided us with transport and food for the mourners," Sugut says.

Staring at his mother's fresh grave, he adds: "Without their support, we would not have been able to foot the funeral expenses."

- - -
Date:  Sun, 14 Sep 2008 15:14:59 -0700 (PDT)
From:  Absalom Birai
Subject:  Re: A very touching story indeed! God, please come closer to this family!

Filed under: Birai Leave a comment
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