Joy as Nakuru family reunites with kin after 47 years abroad

Monday, February 24th, 2020 08:17 | By
James Mugwero receives a bouquet of flowers from a family member during the reunion on Friday. PD/ROY LUMBE

It was a tearful reunion at Mwariki area in Nakuru county when a man returned home after 47 years abroad.

James Mugwero, 86, a father of three, left the country to seek greener pastures in the United States in 1959 when he was 27 years old. 

Though he visited shortly during his stay in the US, Mugwero’s last trip to Kenya was in 1973 when he attended the burial of his mother and only returned  home last Friday evening. 

As he stepped on home soil, tears flowed freely while greeting some of his siblings, who last saw him as a youth, with his nephews and nieces unable to recognise him. 

Mugwero’s mastery of his local Kikuyu language has faded, but he still remembers a word or two, saying his stay in the US never changed much in him. 

“Who would have thought I would stay that long without ever returning, I am glad to be back. Reuniting with my brothers and sisters is very satisfying for my heart,” said Mugwero. 

Lack of money

Having studied medical technology at the Royal College, currently University of Nairobi, Mugwero served at the King George Level Four Hospital now Kenyatta National Hospital for five years as a medical laboratory scientist from 1955 to 1959. 

According to Mugwero, his trip to the United States was a long, but successful journey having spent many years working at different fields in hospital departments before joining the taxi industry. 

He says the main reason he stayed abroad without returning often was the lack of enough money to cater for his family’s flights to and fro, adding that life after retirement became a little complicated.

“Life in the US is not a walk in the park though if you are smart, things will be easy for you. I had missed my motherland and to step here I feel comfortable,” he adds. 

He acknowledges that Kenya has really changed, especially on infrastructure. 

Mugwero’s brother, Norman Kimani Njuguna said they are happy to welcome him home after his long stay abroad. 

He, however, urged people who have travelled abroad not to forget their motherland, adding that though they go to fend for their families “East or West home is the best.” 

Return abroad

“Mugwero’s return should serve as a lesson to all Kenyans who are abroad that their motherland is not a graveyard. They should visit at least once in a while,” said Njuguna. 

Another brother, Paul Kimani, said though Mugwero had failed to return for nearly half a century, they always communicated through mobile phone. 

He said the reunion was long overdue, adding that they will spend the little time they have together celebrating before he returns to the United States. 

Joyce Wanjiru, Mugwero’s sister, said her children used to inquire about their uncle, who they thought was missing, adding that she had a hard time explaining Mugwero’s absence in family meetings. 

The family could not hide their joy as they ate and drank to celebrate the Mugwero’s homecoming, with the local church leadership holding a service to welcome him back.

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