Prodigal son returns to Gatundu home after 35 years in exile


Prodigal son returns to Gatundu home after 35 years in exile
Lawrence Njuguna. PHOTO | COURTESY

A family is celebrating the return of their prodigal son to Gatundu North after 35 years.

Lawrence Njuguna, who is now 76 years old revealed that he has been living in Tanzania and working as a sand harvester.

“I have been thinking about the family but I was still guilty because of the way I left them. Lack of money to facilitate my return has also been a challenge until a volunteer gave me some money. I’m now happy to be home and I have no plans to return to Tanzania,” he told Citizen Digital.

Njuguna who came home with nothing else apart from Ksh. 30 worth of bananas, could not remember anyone in his family including his children, brothers and sisters.

He says he regrets wasting all his life in exile as he could not communicate with any family member as he apparently never owned a mobile phone.

The father of nine children, five girls and four boys left Mwea village at the age of 41 in pursuit of greener pastures.

He had moved to Kajiado County first and was employed as a casual laborer in different farms.

After working there for five years, Njuguna started selling charcoal to make a livelihood; a job that boomed and he thought of seeking his elder son Joel Irungu’s assistance to grow the business.

The son however did not last for long at the job as he decided to go back home leaving his father to continue with the business.

Njuguna stayed there for 25 years without returning home.

He says the charcoal business was no longer viable after awhile and when he got an opportunity to move to Tanzania, he left.

The aging man got a job as a sand harvester but says over the last 10 years, still struggled to meet daily expenses.

He decided to return home but could not remember the way back to the village.

The vehicle he boarded dropped him off in Thika town and it is at the bus station that he asked for directions.

When he arrived at his home on Tuesday, October 29, Hannah Wangari, his brother’s wife was the first one to see him.

She interrogating him as she was not sure that he was who he claimed to be.

Wangari then called her husband and he is the one who recognized the man who had left them 35 years ago. They welcomed him with open arms.

Njuguna was saddened to find out that two of his children had died a few years after he left.

According to his wife Mary Nyathira, he had left when she was heavily pregnant after selling some iron sheets he had bought to make their shanty.

Nyathira was forced to fend for her children alone and expressed how heartbroken and hopeless she felt at the time.

However, when she heard that he had returned home, she says she is relieved.

Irungu, the eldest son in the family, narrated how he had just been circumcised when his father suddenly left them.

“I struggled to heal and later joined my mum to make a livelihood. It has not been easy for me as I took over as the head of the family,” said Irungu adding that they had searched for him for many years but their efforts bore no fruit.

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Story By Wanja Mbugua
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