huruma“I usually don’t get in the house early because of my work, but in the fateful day I was at home by seven o’clock. I was working on some of my workplace documents and it was raining heavily. I was listening to news from the radio at nine o’clock when I heard people talking and shouting outside. They were saying the building was falling. I never took the talk seriously, so I continued working on the documents and listening to news.

After a while I felt like taking tea, which to me is very rare. So I went out and ask my neighbor whether I could send her child to get me some milk. The boy never brought back the milk. When he reached the ground floor, he found people gazing at a huge crack and saying the building is falling. He came back running and told the mother that the building was falling. On her way out, she knocked on my door and told me nyumba inaanguka toka inje. (the house is falling, get out).

I heard people closing their doors hurriedly as they rushed out. I picked the money that was on the table as I run out. When I reached the stairs I remembered I had more money stashed between my bible’s pages. I run back, opened the bible, picked the money and rushed outside again. It hit me later that I had picked the money and left the Bible, which is the word of God. The thought that I abandoned the Bible and picked money makes me guilty up to now.

When I reached the ground floor, I saw a huge crack across the wall. I decided I can’t sleep in that house. I work in a construction site and I knew such a huge house cannot survive a crack of such nature. I even told the people around that, but most dismissed me. Some said there is no way such a building could go down. Some even went back in to sleep. Most of them never woke up, for they were buried alive when the building came down. If some people had not been kichwa ngumu (hard headed) they could have been saved.

I do mjengo (construction) and I told them the house will not survive that crack, but they didn’t listen. Others were arguing that even if it crumbled, only one side would be affected. They ignored the fact that floors are connected by a single shutter and similar set of beams.

After a few minutes I saw huge sparks as the power cables snapped and the building came down in a huge cloud of dust. In our side of the fourth floor there were eight tenants. Nobody died on that side, only injuries. I dint rescue anything and I have rented a small house, and bought a bed with some of the sh15,000 that the government gave us.

This incident happened at the wrong time because this is the time children are going back to school. Two of my kids are in high school and I am trying to think of my next move”