November 7, 2020, is a day that will forever remain etched in the mind of Nairobi-based lawyer John Diro.
On that fateful day, the former Nairobi County Assembly advocate cheated death by a whisker after he was attacked by a watchman at a hotel in Embakasi, Nairobi.
It was some minutes after 6.30pm as he made his way into Seasons Restaurants and Hotels on foot after parting with his wife and children, who were driving back home.
Mr Diro went through the vehicles barrier at the gate oblivious of what awaited him seconds later.
"The guard confronted me telling me that I am not supposed to pass through the barrier. He then slapped me but when I asked why the aggression, he pulled out a long club with a metallic bolt on its head to hit me," recounts the lawyer.
"I wrestled it from him but he immediately drew a sword. He aimed at my head but I instinctively raised both my hands to protect myself," he adds.
The instinctive self-defence reaction is what saved Mr Diro from death as the watchman, identified as Suntu Robinson Olodaru, had aimed for his head.
"In one swing, he slashed both my hands deeply. I could see my bones and the veins and arteries as blood gushed out. People were screaming wondering what was going on. Had I not put my hands up, he was going to slice off my head as he aimed at my neck with the extremely sharp sword," says Mr Diro.
Bystanders quickly tied the bleeding arms while looking for a vehicle to take him to the nearest hospital. Luckily, Embakasi Police Station OCS was passing around and he quickly rushed the lawyer to Bliss Hospital in Embakasi. At this time, his wife had been informed and she quickly made a U-turn to the hospital.
"As my wife was busy calling for an ambulance, the doctors said I did not have the luxury of time going by the way my blood was gushing out," he narrates.
He was put in his car and the wife headed to Nairobi Hospital.
Along the way, his brother, who had now been informed of the incident, made calls to the hospital to prepare for his arrival.
They would arrive at the hospital at 7.30pm or thereabouts but he had already gone into shock and was as cold as a corpse, only to regain consciousness the following day.
"My wife gave up after touching me as I was as cold as a corpse. My brother and children cried thinking I was already dead, having already lost 80 percent of my blood. Surprisingly, it must have been the same day that my father died. What a bad coincidence!" he said forcing a laugh.
Mr Diro thanks his uncle, who works at the facility, for saving his life after making sure that everything, including surgeons, medics, his blood group and the surgery room were on standby by the time he arrived.
"I was immediately put on the reviving table as they added water and blood through veins in my legs as the ones on my hands were completely severed. I was also put on oxygen. I regained consciousness briefly for like five minutes and that gave the medics hope," he says.
The successful surgery lasted between 9pm and 4.30am with the doctors telling him he was lucky to have been taken to the hospital in time.
"I am now doing fine lying on my hospital bed trying to train my fingers using soft tennis balls. The fingers are moving slowly but they are still numb. However, I have been told that is a good sign that the nerves are joining back together," said the lawyer.
Mr Diro is at pains to explain what might have motivated the attack as he was neither violent nor armed to warrant such an attempt on his life.
"I do not know the motive behind the attack as this is a place I have been frequenting for the past 10 years visiting the barbershop and restaurant and most people there know me."
He said Mr Olodaru is on the run and is yet to be arrested by police after the case was reported at Embakasi police station.
"I am suing the hotel's management for negligence. I cannot write, draft, type and sign documents. I am grounded as my limbs are barely moving."
In a November 19, 2020 demand letter by his law firm, Diro Advocates LLP, Mr Diro gave the management five days to admit liability for injuries he has suffered, failing which legal proceedings will be instituted against the hotel's directors.
Wilson Oyamo, the hotel's administrative assistant and also assistant human resources manager, confirmed that Mr Olodaru is a security guard at the hotel in charge of the entrance and parking area.
He further said that he was informed of the incident by the hotel's branch manager Gerald Ntiwaza when he reported in duty on November 9, 2020.
"On the 9th day of November 2020, I reported on duty at 0900 hours. I met our branch manager Gerald Ntiwaza. He told me there was an incident which took place on November 7, 2020, at around 1930 hours," Mr Oyamo said in a statement to police.
"There was (a) confrontation between our client and (a) security guard. The client was seriously injured and rushed to (the) hospital. The security guard has escaped and his whereabouts are not known," he added.