Home Featured Mums House Helps in Kenya: The Day my Nanny ‘Killed’ Her Daughter

House Helps in Kenya: The Day my Nanny ‘Killed’ Her Daughter


I may never really understand what led her to such desperate lengths. Why, Petronilla? Was I bad to you? Why didn’t you just say it – or even just run away? But lie that your child, your very own, is dead, just so you could get away from me? From my family?

You could just have said that you missed your family and wished to visit them. Or that you didn’t like the job anymore. Or that we weren’t paying you enough and you wanted a pay rise.

But lie that your daughter is dead – what colour is your blood anyway?

Yet, I do not judge you because I believe, just as my mother does – that you must have been in very dire straits, in spaces I’ve never been to, hearing voices I’ve never heard, dreaming dreams I couldn’t ever perceive.

Maybe you were fighting battles my mind couldn’t ever fathom. I’m resigned to the fact that I may never really understand. And to be grateful that life has been kind to me. Maybe much kinder to me than it has been to you. So what do I know about your struggles anyway?

Who was Petronilla?

Petronilla is a young lady that I took into my home as a nanny, house girl or Domestic Manager (DM) –as we commonly refer to them as. We embraced her and welcomed her into our home wholeheartedly. We were kind to her. We’d pictured her working for us till she retired. We were even willing to help with her six – yes – six children where we could.

One of these children was her daughter Leah who had just completed her KCSE. I’d talked to several friends who needed a house girl, and one had even agreed to employ her. Yes, Leah is the daughter that Petronilla ‘killed’. Petronilla told us that her daughter had committed suicide by swallowing pills. She’d been rushed to hospital, but it was too late.

Before she left our home, Petronilla was a mess. She would sob, sob, sob. Sniff sniff sniff again. She’d blow her nose over and over again. Machozi-makamasi.

“Hata sijisikii kukula,” she’d say.

Petronilla, a week after you travelled upcountry to ‘mourn’ your daughter, I called you and asked how the burial arrangements, the ‘shugulis’ were progressing. Knowing very well that ‘shughuli’ meant mourning, you cried, “Tulimaliza hiyo shughuli jana”. You knew very well that I would interpret this as “we buried my daughter yesterday”.

Surely Petronilla, were all these dramatics necessary? I tell you, your theatrics were good enough to win an Oscar.

Yet, I choose not to judge you.

I applaud and fully support initiatives that fight for the rights of domestic employees since these are very vulnerable to all manner of abuse. But I wonder: Are there also moves to protect employers, more so mothers who bare the privacy of their homes to completely dishonest strangers?

Well meaning, trusting, unsuspecting mothers who welcome into their families a total stranger, in the hope of a win-win situation where the family wins and the nanny, house girl or DM wins too? True, house girls have for years suffered in the hands of insensitive “madams”, this story we know, and I hope that a solution can be found for it. But what about innocent “madams” who fall into the hands of conniving house girls? Who shall tell their story? Has any of you other moms ever gone through such an experience?-END

This is a story by Yunita, our regular Mummy Tales guest writer. What are your thoughts about her story? Has something similar ever happened to you? If you’d like to share an experience of yours, email me on maryanne@mummytales.com

Read Yunita’s Previous Stories:

Of Mothers who Leave their Children Behind to Come Work in our Homes

Can Working Moms Really Have it all? I Don’t Think So… 

Should I Call my Close Friends and Inform them of my Miscarriage?

Mummy Tales is an organization dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Mummy Tales is the top Women & Girl Empowerment blog in Kenya (BAKE 2017 awards) and 2016 top Women & Girl Empowerment blog (African Blogger Awards). Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here.


In case you missed my last video on an event I attended last weekend, see video below.



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Maryanne W. Waweru is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.


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