A Kenyan-born preacher currently residing in Texas, USA has narrated a heart-breaking tale of getting gang-raped on her wedding day, only for her husband to pass away 29 days into their union.
Speaking to Waridi Wa BBC, Terry Gobanga narrated how family and friends furtively awaited her arrival at the wedding, unaware of the horror she was undergoing after being kidnapped by three men. While the events that unfolded on that fateful day forever changed her life, she considers herself a winner.
According to the preacher then known as Terry Apudo, all plans were in place for her wedding which promised to be quite a memorable one.
“As a preacher, quite a number of my congregants, friends, family and my husband’s kin planned on attending the wedding set for All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi. I’d hired a very lovely dress for my special day.”
However, on the night before her wedding, the bride-to-be discovered that part of the groom’s attire was in her possession. Early the next morning, a friend Terry had spent her wedding eve with offered to take the items to the groom. Terry accompanied the friend to the bus stop and on her way back home, she passed a man sitting in a car parked by the roadside.
Suddenly, the man grabbed Terry before dragging her to the backseat of the car where two other men were waiting. The car sped off with a struggling Terry, who recalled that the kidnapping happened in seconds.
“A piece of cloth was forcefully shoved into my mouth to stop my screaming as I pleaded with them to let me go. As I struggled to free myself, one of the men punched me in the face before ordering me to cooperate or die.”
The two men in the backseat raped her in turns, an ordeal that made her think she would die. Terry recalled that when the driver’s turn to rape her came, he swapped seats with one of her abusers before removing the cloth from her mouth.
“I knew that was the end for me and decided to leave him with a scar that would last a lifetime. I bit his manhood as hard as I could, making him howl in pain.”
Terry was stabbed in the stomach and thrown out of the fast-moving car, leaving her unconscious.
A child who witnessed a bloody and half-naked Terry being dumped out of the assailants’ vehicle screamed for help and a crowd rushed to help.
When police officers arrived at the scene, they thought she was dead. However, on the way to the morgue, one of the officers realised she was still breathing and the vehicle rerouted to the hospital.
As she started regaining consciousness, Terry described feeling sore, disoriented and cried while mumbling about weddings and marriage. Her entire body was swollen and she had a bad knife wound to the stomach.
While authorities set out to look for her family members, the waiting wedding party was waiting for her back in the church. When her fiancé and family heard of what had befallen her, they were shaken.
“When my fiancé came to see me at the hospital, he was carrying my wedding gown and said he was ready to look after me till I recovered. Despite my ordeal, he still wanted to marry me.”
In hospital, Terry received the sad news that she wouldn’t be able to bear children because of the knife injuries.
Terry was left traumatised and blamed herself for the incident and severally asked her fiancé for forgiveness but he stayed by her side. Seven months after her ordeal, they walked down the aisle.
On the 29th day as a married couple, Terry recalled that it very quiet cold and her husband lit a jiko(charcoal stove) which he placed in their bedroom. After supper, her removed the jiko and placed it outside since their bedroom had warmed up.
After retiring to bed, they started having trouble breathing. As Terry struggled to raise an alarm for the neighbours to help them, her husband stopped breathing.
“My husband died that night because of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the jiko in our bedroom. Doctors said I was lucky to be alive as I’d also inhaled the poisonous gas. ”
Depression, stigma, loving again
Barely a month after her church wedding, she was back in church but with for a solemn reason- her husband’s funeral. People starting talking negatively about Terry; some claimed she’d been bewitched while others blamed her rape ordeal for the series of misfortunes that had befallen her. She plunged into depression and could not understand why God would allow His servant to undergo such pain and suffering.
Terry swore to never to remarry again as the pain she’d undergone felt like a heavy load. According to her, she would never wish such pain on anyone.
Through her travails, Tonny Gobanga held Terry’s hand and sought to help her heal; he’d offer Terry advice and check up on her often. After a while, Tonny expressed his desire to marry her but she instead told him to read an article on her rape ordeal before thinking of wooing her. After reading her story, he still expressed his interest in her but she discouraged him by reminding him that she couldn’t bear children. Tonny refused to listen to her, maintaining that children were a gift from God and he still wanted her as a wife.
“I agreed to marry Tonny but when he informed his parents, they opposed our union as they had heard of my past. Despite their opposition, we went ahead with the wedding which my father-in-law snubbed. 800 guests were at our wedding even though I believe most came because they’d heard of my life story.”
A year after her wedding, Terry went to hospital after feeling unwell and was shocked after learning she was pregnant. She delivered a bouncing baby girl and after four years, welcomed her second child.
Now married for 12 years, Terry says she’s good friends with her father-in-law and has a book, Crawling out of the Dark, detailing her life experiences. Terry says she has every reason to smile and be grateful to God for the far He’s brought her. She has since forgiven her rapists even though they were never apprehended by police. Terry runs Kara Olmurani, a non-profit organisation working with victims of rape.