The story was compiled by Sauti Project citizen journalist Noella Luka.
On February 3rd 2012, a peaceful protest was held in the streets on Nairobi, highlighting harassment by city council authorities and police. Issues that were raised included the plight of hawkers and sex workers - all except the forceful castration of an 11-year-old boy by City Council officers.
Andrew is yet another case of harassment by authorities. On January 29th 2012, he was playing football with friends; this was part of a training session by two Chinese nationals studying at the University of Nairobi. Andrew was one of five beneficiaries aged between 11 and 15 years who would be taught football by the two, at Central Park in Nairobi.
On the fateful day, Andrew wanted to play computer games at a cyber café, but instead his mother opted him to join his friends and play football. Joyce was aware of her child’s whereabouts and has actively been involved in such projects. These however was no ordinary project, as it involved street children all expect her 11 year old boy.
Being a former street child herself and having seen the opportunity that this project would benefit her child, she did not hesitate to get him on board. “After the training, we left the park at around 6.00pm and my friends, Humphrey, John, Mwangi and Mathew escorted me to get a bus home,” Andrew said. “On the way we saw three city council askari’s. My friends recognised them immediately and ran. I ran too but after sometime, one of them caught me.”
“We walked around town for some time looking for the rest, I didn’t see my friends or the other askari’s and later we approached some benches along University Way where he just turned on me, removed my pants and cut me,” he added.
Andrew is a shy boy who is yet to fully understand the magnitude of this incident and the impact it will have on his life. His mother knows the story all too well.
“My experience in the streets taught me that city council officials do not act immediately when they catch you. You will keep them company for sometime before they decide what they will do to you.”
That night Andrew didn’t come home and as any concerned mother, Joyce reached out to people around her to ask whether they had seen her son. She sought the help of his godmother who thought it best to wait until morning.
Early next morning, she got a call from one of Andrew’s friends telling her that there was an incident and she needed to come immediately. When she arrived, there were blood stains all over and additional clothing wrapped around her son’s body. She later learned that an older street kid found her son, who by then had collapsed and was bleeding profusely. He mobilized others and carried Andrew to Muthurwa Market, a popular open market, where they thought he would be safer, wrapped him with additional clothes and decided to look out for him.
”When I got to where he was I saw Andrew covered with blood stained clothes. At the time I didn’t want to know what had happened to my son, I just wanted to get him to hospital. Humphrey (one of the street children) and I carried him and walked to Nairobi Women’s Hospital,” says Joyce.
According to Andrew there was an eye witness: “I remember a car slowing down and there was a man, he was a mzungu - a foreigner - and kept asking the officers: ‘what are you doing?’ The man gave me KSh 100 note and left.”
The boy was admitted for a week into the hospital. During this time his mother sought to find out what happened to him. Three days after the incident, she mobilized her friends including human rights activists from Bunge la Mwananchi (The People’s Parliament) and staged a protest at the Mayor’s office.
Seven year old Rose, and five year old Neema are Andrew’s siblings. Neema is too young to understand what happened to her brother; on the other hand, Rose asks her brother many questions trying to understand what is wrong with Andrew. He wreaths in pain unexpectedly, at times you’ll hear him scream at night prompting Rose to raise questions some of which are heartbreaking. In an attempt to understand she often asks: “I don’t see you go to the toilet. What’s wrong with you?”
“The younger one only knows that her brother is sick and that like all sick people, he will get well,” says Joyce.
As a mother, Joyce is concerned about the impact the incident will have on his life. He has gone through two counselling sessions. She feels that a lot more needs to be done and is looking for a specialist.
‘This Boy, This Man,’ an initiative aimed at creating awareness of the boy child has come to the resuce of Andrew. The organization seeks to address the plight of fatherless boys as well as men who face challenges in their adulthood, be it financial, social, psychological.So
far they have helped create awareness in the media about Andrew’s case - one of many that they are working on.
Cindy Ogana from the initiative has been working directly with Andrew’s mother to ensure that he is a beneficiary of the project. Security concerns have also been raised. The street boys claim that city council officers have been capturing young boys and asking them whether they are Andrew.
“I’m scared that one of them will be paid off to reveal our whereabouts; this is particularly so since they are young and impressionable,” Joyce says.
Andrew says that it is unbearable to face people, especially those who know that his private parts were cut off. “It hurts to know everyone knows,” he said. “On most occasions when we go out, we use routes not often used to avoid people.”
For now, Joyce says that all she wants is justice for her son. “I realize that there is only so much people can do for me and would want a lasting solution to ensure this boy’s needs are taken care of,” a vocal Joyce adds.