A middle-aged woman from Lurambi, Kakamega County has recounted the last interactions she had with her 10-year-old daughter, who lost her life at Kakamega Primary School following a stampede Monday evening.
Fourteen children in Classes Five and Four died in the tragedy.
Mactilda Musimbi, who had daughter in Class Five at the institution, recounts meeting the girl, Antonette Iramwenya, one hour before the unfortunate incident happened at 5pm.
Below is her narration as told to K24 Digital on Tuesday, February 4:
“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.
“She began her elementary studies at Friends’ School in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.
“In 2014, we moved from Eldoret to Kakamega. She joined Lion’s Nursery School. After completing her nursery education, she joined Kakamega Primary School. She was in Class Five at the time of her death.
“The relationship between my daughter and I, has been the best. She loved me so much, and I loved her too.
“I am a teacher, and she loved my profession. She would often tell me that she wanted to become a teacher after completing her education.
“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 5 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 giftedness.
“I remember in 2016 when I was expectant with my youngest daughter, she told: ‘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.
“On the fateful Monday (February 3), I woke up at 5am, 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’s administration at 10am.
“After the successful meeting, I stayed at the school, where I met other teachers who are my friends.
“Twenty minutes to 4pm, I was still at Kakamega Primary School.
“I remember visiting Antonette’s classroom a few minutes past 3pm. 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 to the school’s main gate, where they bid me bye. I remember I left my girls 20 minutes to 4pm.
“And, because there were signs that the rains would fall soon, I hailed a boda boda home.
“Shortly after getting home, a boda boda guy who picks my daughters from school every evening, called me on 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, and I said ‘no’.
“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 strength to go through this difficult period of our lives.”
In Magoha’s own words
Education minister, Prof. George Magoha, while addressing parents, teachers, pupils and the entire Kakamega Primary School fraternity on Tuesday, disclosed that of the 14 learners, who died on Monday, 5 were male and 9 were female.
“Two of the deceased were in Class Four, whereas the remaining 12 were in Class Five,” said the Education CS.
Magoha said the total student population at Kakamega Primary School was 3, 128, with 296 enrolled to the early childhood education programme.
The CS said the learning centre has 70 teachers employed by the Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC) and four by the Board of Management.
“The school has an average of 64 pupils per stream, and it has 51 classrooms,” said the minister, who went ahead to claim that due to the school’s history of posting top grades in KCPE, Kakamega Primary School has been popular among parents.
“In 2019, they posted a KCPE mean score of 333 marks out of the possible 500; in 2018, they had an average score of 338 marks; in 2017, they posted a mean score of 336 marks; in 2016, they had 322 marks; and in 2015, they posted a mean score of 328 marks,” said Magoha, who firmly stated he won’t accept a less-convincing finding on the cause of the fatal stampede.
“Children were running, but you won’t tell me they were running over nothing,” said Magoha.