Veronica Wanja-Sande, the firstborn in a family of four (three girls, one boy) is a living testimony God has a purpose for everyone. She told her eventful life story to Citizen Digital last week.
She was raised up by a single dad
Veronica and her siblings were raised in Eldoret by a single father after her mother fled the family home when she was barely 10-years-old.
Her mum’s departure left a gap, which she, as the firstborn, struggled to fill.
“I had to assume motherly duties and I did all house chores at the age of 9. I remember there’s a time I cooked porridge instead of ugali, and my dad ate the meal with so much love,” recalls the upcoming singer.
Taking care of her younger siblings came at a great cost: “I had to sacrifice one year of schooling to take care of my younger siblings because dad was going to work. I later went back to school at the age of 10.”
There are certain things that daughters can only learn from their mothers, particularly when they hit puberty. Without a mother to aid her transition into womanhood, Nicah faced many challenges.
“I could not even go ask my dad for pads, or even tell him it was time I started wearing bras. I had to walk while bent quite often to hide my boobs,” Nicah recounted. “Dad used to buy me one pack of sanitary towels to last me three months – he did not know I needed two in a month. I had to fill the deficiency by using pieces of old clothes.”
She, however, applauds her father for being the best dad in the world.
She got pregnant at 16
The absence of motherly counsel meant Nicah had to learn about womanhood by herself.
“I did not have information about boys. When I was schooling, I got romantically involved with one man. I was 15 and he was 26 years old,” she began narrating. “He used to shower me with gifts and money. I could buy sanitary towels, and also groom myself. I was really feeling good about myself then.”
Young and naive, she did not know the man she loved would take advantage of her innocence.
“The guy took advantage of my naivety as there was nobody to guide me on sexuality. I would envy my friends at school who had already started engaging in sexual activities. Out of the desire to fulfill my curiosity, I ended up falling pregnant by him at the tender age of 16. By that time, I was in form three and it was very heartbreaking. I did not know anything about protection, family planning or abstinence,” Nicah recollected amidst tears.
After composing herself, she continued: “My dad never expected that I could engage intimately with boys. I hid my pregnancy at first, but used to spit saliva quite often. He suspected something was amiss, but chose to ignore his fears,” tells the mother of two.
The straw which would break the camel’s back was yet to come.
“At the beginning of every term, the girls in my school were given pregnancy tests. I knew my dad would get to know of my pregnancy, so I chose not to report to school for first term.”
Nicah told her father she wasn’t in good health, and she could not report to school.
“He was sure that I was unwell because he would buy mandazis for me in the morning and when he comes back home in the evening, he would find them uneaten. When he saw my condition was not improving, he told me we would visit the clinic the following day,” tells Nicah.
Knowing too well her secret pregnancy would be found out the next day, she ran away from home in search of the man who sired her unborn baby.
“When I called him, he told me he had immigrated to Nakuru. I did not have money. I had to chonga viazi at a particular hotel in Eldoret to raise the bus fare (KSh600) which would cater for my transport to Nakuru,” tells Nicah.
Upon arriving in Nakuru, she did not manage to communicate with her baby-daddy as his phone was switched off. She slept in the streets of Nakuru for four days – hungry, and hopeless.
However, a Good Samaritan came to her rescue: “A man who’d noted I was sleeping in the streets, asked about my background. He was touched by my story and he gave me KSh600 bus fare to travel back to Eldoret.”
How did her father deal with her when she showed up at his doorstep?
“My dad beat me thoroughly upon arrival. He was angry because he’d already toiled to pay my tuition fee for the year.”
After his anger subsided, Nicah’s dad buried the hatchet with her and took responsibility for her delivery.
Constant disagreement with step-mum forced her out of her father’s home
Veronica’s father later remarried. Expectedly, this brought some tension in the home.
“I wasn’t happy with the development. My step-mum wanted to feel in charge of her home, at the same time I wasn’t comfortable with that. I had hit puberty. Many at times I would think that my step-mum was out to swindle my dad’s hard-earned money. We fought a lot with my step-mum.” she said.
“My dad got fed up and exerted his authority. He gave me the options of: being in good terms with my step-mum, going back to school, or leaving his house. I refused to go back to school. In the process of finding what to do, I fled home with my baby” explained Nicah.
Of a man who paid bills
As a high school drop-out with a young baby in tow, how did she make ends meet?
“I got a man who offered to pay my bills – he gave me KSh5, 000 a month. That was a significant amount back then, especially since I rented a KSh400 per month mud house in Eldoret.”
However with a baby to feed, KSh5, 000 soon proved little and she had to hustle harder: “I would wash people’s clothes to get money. I also used to steal my landlord’s sukuma wiki – at least to have something to eat.”
The hustle was real.
“I did not even have candles for lighting the house, so I created a hole on the upper side of the wall bordering my neighbour’s room. The light from his end could penetrate into my house,” she recalled as she laughed cheekily.
When times got tougher, Veronica had to look for her baby’s father.
God saved her from the jaws of a ‘callous’ man
“I later looked for the family of my child’s father and handed the baby to them before leaving for Kisii where another man had promised to hire me as a restaurant manager. He was chasing after me, and so he thought his hunt would be easier if he covers my eyes with a job,” tells Nicah.
“At the restaurant, I was the supervisor. I at one time felt like I own the establishment,” she recalls.
They say nothing in this world is for free, and that is the truth that Nicah had to face. Her employer gave her the prestigious position in the hopes that it would lead into something more: “I had never engaged sexually with him, though he was constantly pushing for it.”
Though he made many attempts, somehow the timing was never right. It seems that all that was God-orchestrated as Nicah would soon learn that her boss’ sexual health was not fit.
“The bar maids at the entertainment joint I was managing, later confided in me that the man was suffering from STD, and he was married to four wives. I used to sleep in one of the rooms in the restaurant. The venture’s owner could tell me time and again: ‘I will visit you tonight.’ Luckily I knew better.”
Armed with the knowledge of his health status, she chose safety. “When I heard my boss was getting more serious by the day, I looked for a way out.”
Experience with a conman
A man whom I had met at work confessed to me he wanted a relationship with me – but said his main objective was to help me get a better job first.”
His timing was perfect, so she took him up on the offer.
“I tagged along with him the following day as he was coming to Nairobi. I moved in with him. I however have to admit – his soul was very generous and clean! At no single time did he ask me for sexual favours!” Nicah said.
Nicah, however, says she later learnt that the man was a city conman who wanted to introduce her into the illicit business. Fearful of the consequences of associating with a criminal, she moved out of his home and cut ties with him.
She was a procurement manager of a top organisation with only form three education
She later met yet another man who offered to employ her as a procurement manager at one of Nairobi’s big organisations. She says he purely wanted to help her – nothing else.
Without a degree or a diploma, let alone a form four certificate – how did she manage to pull through in a job which is a preserve of the elite?
“Honestly, I did not know anything about the job or computers. I was clueless – imagine me a form three drop-out! I was being paid a monthly net salary of Ksh135, 000. I did not even know how to put signatures on papers, despite before supplies being made, I had to sign documents.”
So how did she pull it off?
“It was very hard! But, I thank God there was the internet. With my basic education, I would Google terms and basic procurement processes and this helped a lot. Additionally, my boss was awesome – he took it upon himself to help me learn the ropes.”
Despite having a prestigious job, she did not settle: “While in the job, I quickly enrolled for computer packages. With that education, at least I became more familiar with computer operations.”
She, however, was worried that she would be found out: “I later sat down and thought deeply. The job I was doing was borne out of a connection – what would happen if the organisation lays off its workers based on qualification?”
Having saved good amount in her bank account, she resigned from the position.
She also used the money to fight for the custody of her daughter in court, which she won. She reconciled with her dad and step-mum, and took her daughter to live with them in Eldoret.
She would later meet Dr Ofweneke, whom she terms her saviour, at an event planning committee, and as they say, the rest is history.