The family of Isaac Mbalewa, a KDF officer abducted by Al-Shabaab during the El Adde attack, is offering its wealth to the militia group in exchange for their son.
No words can describe the pain and anguish this family has undergone.
On January 16, 2016, Mbalewa 51, was heard on the militia’s radio station pleading with the Kenyan government to negotiate with Al-Shabaab for their release.
Since then, the father of four has not been seen nor heard.
“I am ready to give Al-Shabaab anything to give me back my son. I am ready to sell even my land,” said Mbawela’s father, Francis Otsyalo told The Nairobian.
When we visited his Makunga home, Otsyalo who was hit by a multiple strokes three years ago, he was at pains saying living without knowing whether his elder son is dead or alive has made his health deteriorate.
Otsyalo added that his son used to cater for his medical bills and urged President Uhuru to intervene.
“Mr President, kindly intervene to have my son released from Somalia. Please bring back my son,” the distraught father said, adding, “He spoke on radio after the attack, this means he was not killed on that fateful day. I believe his is still alive to date. Sometimes, I had bad dreams that KDF buried my son without my knowledge.”
Mbalewa was among KDF soldiers based at El-Adde camp who were attacked by Al-Shabaab in the deadly dawn attack which left at least 173 Kenyan soldiers dead.
For his family, dreams and memories are the only things they hold on as they have not received any information from the government or KDF on the whereabouts of their son.
Mbalewa’s mother Josephine Otsyalo remains prayerful that one day her son will come back home. “Where is my son? Was he killed by the terrorists and if he was killed why can’t they bring his body for burial? I pray and fast to get back my son alive. I have not given up on praying,” she said.
The mother said she is planning to sell part of her piece of land to cater for her husband’s medication.
“We have received no information from the government or KDF. They have left us in darkness on the matter,” she said.
She said in the African culture, it is better to have the body than living with the uncertainty of a missing person.
“Our neighbours have started shying away from us saying our son got lost and there is nothing we are doing to get him or his body. We are living in pain,” she said.
The parents can clearly recall their son’s last communication before the attack.
“Please pray for us we are in a dangerous country,” Mbalewa who was a Warrant Officer 1 told his parents.
The father of three left teaching profession after completing studies at Kikuyu Teachers Training College and University of Nairobi (Kikuyu campus) to join KDF which was his dream career.
Attempts by his father to ask him to resign from military forces did not go down well with him as he declined saying he had passion to serve his nation.
“I told him to resign but he refused. He is my best friend who has been taking care of me since I was hit by stroke in 2013,” said Otsyalo.