Friday, March 12, 2010



By Philip Mwakio

It has been an endless nightmare for families of Kenyan sailors in a ship hijacked by Somali pirates two weeks ago.

Two of the affected families traced in Mombasa were in distress yesterday as they narrated the frustration of waiting with scanty information about the hijacked fishing vessel.

Standard Three pupil Austin Ishahiza Idah, nine, stared blankly as journalists interviewed her mother about her husband who is among those in captivity.

The boy, who goes to Maryjoy Academy in Kisauni, Mombasa, appeared not to understand the grievous matter that has drawn attention to his home.

His father, Edward Idah, 43, is among ten Kenyan and five foreign sailors taken hostage by Somali pirates after their fishing vessel, FV Sakoba, was hijacked a fortnight ago. The ship flies a Kenyan flag but is Spanish-owned.

Grace Idah, and her son, Austin Ishahiza, at their Kisauni house, Mombasa. Her husband is among Kenyan sailors held by Somali pirates.

For Grace Idah, the captive’s wife, life has become an endless nightmare since her husband fell into the hands of Somali pirates.

"I have not been sleeping, I can’t think about anything else, this ordeal is eating me up," she said in tears."

Idah, a mother of four, said, "My children who saw television footage of the news of the hijack, cried the whole night,’’ she said at their home at Barsheba, Kisauni Division.

Last time

Grace said the last time she spoke with her husband of 16 years was sometime in December, lasts year.

Foreign-owned fishing boats, like the one Idah works in, can be at sea for several months, fishing and freezing the stocks in refrigerators aboard.

"He called and enquired how me and the children were fairing," Grace said as tears rolled down her eyes.

Her husband told her their vessel was scheduled to return to Mombasa by this week, but that was not to be.

Neighbours have been streaming into the family’s rented house to offer support and express sympathy for the family.

Edwards who hails from Vihiga District in Western Province is employed greaser in the ship’s engine room. "I can hardly imagine that my husband, a loving and caring man, is being subjected to unfair treatment at the hands of pirates," Grace said.

She said she got information about the hijack of the ship from Mr Andrew Mwangura, the Co-ordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Programme, a week after it had happened. Later she saw the news on TV news.

Captive’s employer

"Last week I went to the offices of my husband’s employers at Canon Towers to enquire when they would return to Mombasa but they concealed information from me. I was told the ship was expected back this week," she said.

She was back at the same offices a day later where she confronted them with the information Mwangura had given her.

"They admitted it had been hijacked and added that the ship owner was expected to fly to Mombasa from Spain to start negotiations with the pirates," she said.

Like Grace, Mr Olwenyi Adams, brother to Bernard Olwenyi, another seaman onboard the ill-fated FV Sakoba, is undergoing an agonising wait.

"I have not settled since I got news of my brother’s and his colleagues’ capture by the Somali pirates," he said at Changamwe Estate.

Adam pleaded with the Government to intervene and enter into negotiations with the prates to secure the release of the ship’s crew.

Since November

He said the last time he met his brother was in November, last year.

"My brother has no home here. His wife and to children stay in Busia. He had gone to see them in November and on his way back to Dar Es Salaam, where he boarded the ship, he passed by to see me," he said.

Kisauni DC, where most of the sailors come from, said the issue was being dealt with at high levels of Government.

Mwangura gave the crew list of the rest of the Kenyan sailors aboard FV Sakoba as Iddi Kombo Khamisi, Onalo John oluwe, Amani Nicholas Okode, Hamisi Omar Mohamed,Wanda Gerson, Anthony Leonard Njore, Olnalo Olum Eugene, Kambi Leonard Tsuwi and Benard Olwenyi Ochieng.