Close

AMERICAN DREAM?

Stressed Kenyans 'export' domestic violence to US

Nandi man's case echoes similar one by a fellow Kenyan from Kisii that ended in murder of wife and kids

In Summary

• Cases of wife battering, suicide and murder are on the rise in the Diaspora.

• Justus Ogendi, a qualified nurse in the city of Minnesota, went berserk and killed his wife.

Jail
Jail
Image: COURTESY

Gideon Maiyo, now 37, from Nandi county, is among hundreds of Kenyans languishing in US jails imprisoned on domestic violence-related cases.

The issue of domestic violence by Kenyans in the US is not new. It is often blamed on the violent atmosphere they were brought up in, which they “export”, and on stress within their families.

On the evening of October 16, 2010, Justus Ogendi, a qualified nurse in the city of Minnesota, went berserk and hit his wife, Bilha Omare,32, with a golf club before strangling her with an electrical wire.

She died as Ogendi turned to his two children, sons Kinley, 12, and Ivyn Ogendi, then, 9, whom he drugged before killing them separately.

Ogendi, then 43, pleaded guilty to second-degree intentional murder and was sentenced to 76 years in jail. He will be 94 when he completes his imprisonment.

Cases of wife battering, suicide and murder perpetrated by either gender have been blamed on stress, which comes as a result of a partner feeling insecure in a relationship.

Ogendi had migrated his family to Minnesota in the US from his rural home in Kisii, a move he claimed was a big “favour” to his wife. He had been living alone and occasionally visited her in Kenya.

He wanted his family to live the American dream, but he occasionally battered his wife as he tried to force his way to control and have domination over her. This often landed him on the wrong side of the US legal system. He was stripped of his nursing practising licence by the state government because of his criminal record.

Prior to committing the murders, Ogendi had just completed three-month probation for battering his wife Omare.

He had pleaded guilty and had his nursing licence suspension extended for his continued life of violence directed at his family and children.

 

The suspension denied him employment while his wife worked and action that made him more jealous and occasionally told friends that he was being disrespected by his wife.

Just like Gideon Maiyo, Ogendi remained defiant, reflecting the true African man when they appeared in court. They showed no emotion and had nothing to say in mitigation before they were sentenced.

Ogendi had confessed the reasons for killing his wife and children, blaming it all on stress, while Maiyo went mum.