By Nyainda Manaseh via fb
While appearing on Jalang’o TV sometime in December 2020, Mercy Atieno – ‘I don’t give a damn’ sensational hit-maker – recounted her depressing encounter with the American criminal justice system.
During her stay in one of the shelters in Texas, Mercy was informed of her father’s untimely death and she had to contend with the fact that she had to miss his burial in Siaya.
She requested that the funeral ceremony be captured in a video and sent to her at the shelter so that she could pay her last respect to her father.
Unfortunately, when she was passing by the staff room, she bumped into the staff members watching the video without her consent and they started laughing at her. She asked them repeatedly to stop watching but they remained adamant and even shut the door.
But when she lit a rag, it caught their attention and they immediately stopped. The fire was put off using a hooded sweatshirt but one of the staff members called the police and she was immediately arrested.
On appearing in court, she alleges that the police concocted another dubious charge. While she was lighting the fire, she exclaimed that she was going to kill those staff, which was never captured in the initial reports recorded at the scene by the police, fire department, etc., and now in her possession.
In the recorded 911 call, the police asked the caller what the alleged arsonist was saying and she confessed that she was saying nothing apart from crying and screaming, further cementing her assertion.
Now, she was facing arson charges – willfully and maliciously lighting up a fire with the intention to kill people – that attract 5 years in jail down from a misdemeanor, which would have attracted a 6-month jail term.
She was hauled between court and jail for 18 months. The US government assigned her a lawyer but to her confession, this supposed lawyer was hell-bent on seeing her sent to prison.
She then decided to reach out to the Kenyan Embassy for help. However, her calls went unanswered numerous times, and the times they were picked, she was often given diversionary responses: call us in the morning, call us in the evening, call us in the afternoon rhetoric.
After a whole month, her effort had hit a brick wall and she had now surrendered her fate to the racially punitive justice system.
But one day, she wrote a 10-page emotional letter addressed to the Rt. Hon. Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga narrating her ordeal and requesting for any form of help from him.
Mr. Odinga was touched by the letter and called his sister living in the US, Wenwa Akinyi Odinga to help Mercy and brief him daily on the progress.
Wenwa then visited Mercy in jail and asked what she could do for her. Mercy requested four things: Get another lawyer for her, bring Kenyans to court for solidarity, and buy her sanitary pads and other hygiene stuff.
As instructed, Wenwa did all these and Raila constantly kept calling to be kept abreast of the matter.
On the morning of the hearing of the case, Wenwa arrived accompanied by another lawyer and reaffirmed to Mercy that whoever had been propped up to defend her was simply engaging in a game of smoke and mirrors.
But before the new attorney could officially take over, the matter took an unprecedented turn when the court declared that Mercy was mentally ‘incompetent’ to stand trial after her supposed lawyer seconded by the state conspired with her tormentors.
She says that she was never subjected to any psychiatric test to establish her mental state and that the judge made a unilateral decision without an iota of evidence.
Immediately, she began crying, screaming, as well as convulsing on the floor of the court, further lending credence to the court’s pronouncement of her insanity. The matter took a different but difficult turn for Mercy.
All through, I know you have been wondering why Mr. Odinga’s photo is placed against this story. Take a chill pill.
Many people have written about Raila Odinga, the son of Jaramogi. Others, the hero of the gallows who ushered in the democratic space we are enjoying. Some have praised him as the Enigma of Kenyan politics.
Others have belabored his reform agenda and achievements. Many others have simply recounted their personal encounters with him.
But today, I am celebrating a human being. A father, husband, friend, neighbor, and compatriot, who, beyond the lenses of a quest for a better Kenya, has a conscience, mind, heart, and blood. He is humanely human.
Belated birthday wishes to the Son of Adonijah