Kenya: Sharon Otieno, the Beautiful, Generous Spirit With Personal Secrets

Sharon Otieno who was kidnapped with Nation journalist Barrack Oduor on September 3, 2018. She was found dead on September 5, 2018.
6 September 2018

Growing up, Ms Sharon Otieno was an ordinary village girl in Homa Bay. She attended local schools and was raised by parents who tended their small shamba and taught at local public schools. She was one of four children, two boys and two girls.

She was beautiful, a bright star in this humid village whose climate is governed by Lake Victoria.

Her friends remember her for her generosity. At one time, she bought a huge cake for a student on campus to celebrate her birthday during lean times.

At another, a woman who sold her bedding sometime back in Kisumu told the Nation Sharon left a tip of Sh500, a rare gesture in this part of the world.

On Wednesday, her distraught parents sobbed uncontrollably when the Nation team visited their home.


Her father, Mr Douglas Otieno, who identified the body of his daughter, was besides himself with grief and shock.

"At the moment I don't want to talk much. You have heard and seen what happened," he told Nation at their home, wiping away a tear. Here was the sum of pain for a father who placed so much hope in a daughter and which had now come to naught.

The body had visible wounds on the back, neck and hands, showing she may have been stabbed, he said.

Ms Otieno's body lay at Rachuonyo Level IV Hospital in Oyugis, Homa Bay County, where relatives and friends viewed it; each coming out wailing uncontrollably.


Her mother, overwhelmed with emotion, had to cut short the interview after she said her daughter had confirmed a politician in Migori was involved in the pregnancy.

Ms Otieno kept her life private. Early this year she deferred her studies at Rongo, seeking time to prepare for her second child, speculated to be the cause of her brutal death. The university said Ms Otieno was on a long holiday but was expected to resume classes on Monday when a new semester started.

She guarded her private life carefully.

"She was jovial and liked looking at her smartphone, either on social media or texting friends," said a fellow student. "But in the three years we have seen her, there were certain things you would not understand. She kept her distance, especially her private life."


Suspected of being the girlfriend of a local politician, friends said she travelled abroad several times, based on the images she posted on Facebook.

So when she contacted Nation reporter Barrack Oduor to expose the politician, a married man, for having an affair and trying to walk away from responsibility for the child she was carrying, it was the turning point for her.

She loved fashion and dressing for occasions, friends said. She loved high heels, long dresses and long earrings. On the day she was abducted, she had her hair in long braids, wore sandals and was seven months pregnant.

A suspect in her death, Mr Michael Oyamo, is in custody.


Rongo University Vice Chancellor Samuel Gudu called on police to get to the bottom of the matter, saying the incident had left the Rongo fraternity in great shock.

The university don spoke amid protests from students who took to the streets yesterday to protest the killing.

Prof Gudu pleaded with the students, staff, parents and stakeholders to remain calm as the matter was being handled by the government in close co-operation with the university.

"As Rongo university family, we strongly denounce this heinous, beastly, cruel and criminal act that abductors meted on our student," said the VC.

He further said they learnt of Ms Otieno's disappearance and subsequent murder with shock and disbelief. Ms Otieno joined the varsity in 2016 and had been a non-residential student, commuting from her home to the institution.

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