On the death of Ivy Wangeci and why we should never ‘sweep under the rug’ societal issues that have been silenced by tradition and trauma. There are several stories about her death populating social media and I don’t know which one to trust as I haven’t spoken to any of her close friends or family, but one thing jumps out to me – Ivy was being stalked by an obsessive childhood friend who wanted more than friendship. She was having none of that and he took rejection badly.
Stalking is a pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour which is repeated, persistent, intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim. Studies have shown that 8 out of 10 victims of stalking showed symptoms of PSTD and severe psychological distress – depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, paranoia, and agoraphobia to mention a few.
Some examples of stalking include – regular unwanted gifts, unwanted communication, damaging property, repeatedly following you or spying on you, and physical threats. According to Paladin – a national stalking advisory body in the UK – if you know someone is stalking you should do some of the following: – trust yourself and your instincts, report it as early as possible to the police and tell others what is happening, get advice from a trusted service and keep evidence of what’s happening by writing it in a journal.
Unfortunately, many stories of stalking we’ve heard of ended tragically because the perpetrator could not be stopped, or no one took it seriously.
The first time Sumi became aware that Mwacharo’s was in the club was when she noticed him staring at her from a distant. He looked drugged, like a red-eyed monster out for blood and towered above everyone else on the dance floor. When he noticed she was looking at him, his gaze intensified, and it weirded her out.
“You won’t believe this…” she shouted and nudged Naserian who was gyrating to my woman my everything by Patoranking. They couldn’t converse anyway because the music was too loud, so she assumed dancing and looking out from the corner of her eye. At this point she was thinking of the many times Mwacharo creeped her out and she couldn’t imagine what she could have done to encourage that behaviour. Her thought train was interrupted when someone spurned her around. It was Mwacharo.
“Hey, I bought you a drink.” She knew accepting the drink meant encouraging his behaviour, and refusing the drink meant aggravating him. She took the drink with no intention of drinking it. Naserian, her best friend since time began, said everything that needed saying with her eyes. Mwacharo just stood there.
It all started innocently enough or though she thought. She met Mwacharo when she joined college in September: they had been grouped together in one tutor group. After the introductions, Mwacharo re-introduced himself to her again and asked her to sit with him at lunch. She told him if he wanted, he could join her and her friend, Naserian, at the cafeteria. He wasn’t pleased. During lunch, however, he stared at her in a way that made her uncomfortable. He told her three or four times that she was beautiful. The first time it felt good, the second and third time rang alarm bells all over her being. Naserian noticed this and said nothing then, later she said it creeped her out too. They decided not to have lunch with him ever again.
Over the next few months the creepiness intensified. Mwacharo followed them around – at first, he was discreet but that didn’t last long. The two girls tried their best to ignore him and hoped he would get the message and keep off. One Friday evening as the two girls walked from class, he grabbed Naserian’s shoulder so roughly it bruised. He accused her of coming between him and Sumi. Naserian, who never minced her words, told him where to go and to leave Sumi alone because she had a boyfriend. That sentence sent him into a spiral of destruction. He became deranged and threatened to kill the boyfriend and Naserian.
“Fuck off!” Naserian said as she laughed, and the two girls resumed their walk. Naserian appeared unbothered by the threat but Sumi felt chills down her spine. That night, for the first time, she told her boyfriend Ayo all about Mwacharo. “I’ll break all his bones if he comes within 10 miles of you!” he promised. That night and they cuddled in bed, Mwacharo plotted.
The stalking intensified. Mwacharo would appear everywhere she was, even when no one on the planet knew her whereabouts, he knew. Whenever he saw Ayo and Sumi together, he would join them uninvited. He would interrupt, in Swahili, conversations between Sumi and Ayo who didn’t understand Swahili: it was a clear message to Ayo that he was an outsider and unwelcome. At her bravest, Sumi reprimanded him and demanded apologies that never came and when they did, they were tainted with insincerity and contempt.
She reported his behaviour to the university and requested to change tutor groups. When this happened Mwacharo’s behaviour became worse. He started sending her gifts – flowers and chocolate – delivered to her room at odd hours. The gifts came with no notes, but she knew they were from him. She returned the gifts or threw them away. This only aggravated him more. Ayo and Naserian started receiving anonymous death threats – no one could prove anything, but they knew who was sending them. One time Ayo found his car tires slashed and a picture of Charles Manson on his windshield. He reported to the campus police who did nothing because there was no evidence. Sumi was so stressed she considered dropping out of school altogether. The only people who knew her turmoil were Ayo and Naserian: Ayo was getting a tad tired of being harassed so their romance frizzled out.
It was on the day Ayo broke up with Sumi that Naserian decided to take her friend out clubbing to decompress. Unbeknown to them and not surprisingly, Mwacharo was on their trail. Sumi saw him first and her whole body froze. Naserian didn’t see him until he placed the drink on Sumi’s hand.
“Do not drink that!” she mouthed. Before she could respond, Mwacharo placed himself between them and started dancing facing Sumi. Naserian glared at him but he didn’t even acknowledge her.
“Why aint you drinking that?” He shouted. Sumi heard but ignored him. She was scared.
“I’m just going to the loo. OK?” She said to him. He nodded. She grabbed her best friend and asked if they could go home. She agreed.
As the uber pulled up next to them, she noticed Mwacharo walking maniacally towards them. “Get out of my life!” She shouted as they fell into a waiting taxi.
The two women have been missing since. The uber driver said he dropped them off at campus. Mwacharo said he hasn’t seen them since they left the club. The police have no leads. The rumour mill is ablaze with spectacular speculations.
They call stalker women bunny boilers! I wonder what name is appropriate for men who stalk women and then kills them?
Gif courtesy of giphy.com