By Bernard Gitau @benardgitau1
After 11 years in the US where he amassed enviable wealth, Peter Ndirangu was deported for slapping his wife over an argument. He left his house, truck and millions of shillings behind
He once lived a fairy tale life, by his definition. He had most of what he wanted in life and it looked like nothing would stand in his way. Well, something did and from a life of opulence in the US, he lives from hand to mouth in London Estate, an informal settlement in Nakuru.
Life has thrown him ironies he is trying to come to terms with. Peter Ndirangu, 49, a mechanical engineer lived in the USA for 11 years, a chance he got after he won a Green Card. He had tried five times without success.
“I was pregnant with hope that the chance to fly out was a signal of kicking out poverty in my lineage. I had heard many stories of people who had become prosperous once they went to the US,” he says. After landing in US in 1999, lady luck was on his side as he furthered his education and acquired immense wealth within 11 years.
Ndirangu, a third born in a family of four joined Thika High School in year 1981 and got Division One and later went to Afraha High for his A-level. “After completing my A level I joined my father in his truck businesses and I worked as a driver for five years until I won the Green Card in 1999,” Ndirangu recalls.
On arrival in the US with his wife, Ndirangu secured a job as a security guard and later joined IATA for driving courses. “I worked with several companies as a track driver earning Sh26,700 to Sh44,500 a day,” he says.
After years of saving, Ndirangu bought his own track after depositing about Sh5.2 million.
He also bought a house in Garland, Dallas worth Sh7.9 million plus three personal vehicles among other properties. He also joined East Field College and graduated with Associate Degree in Mechanical Assembly and Automobile Technology.
“I had Sh6.2 million in my bank account, which I had saved from my business,” Ndirangu recalls.
And it seemed like Ndirangu would live a fairy tale until an argument with his wife. For over 10 years, they did not have a child. The issue had caused a lot of strain in their marriage and in a moment of madness, Ndirangu slapped his wife. This was the beginning of his downfall.
He was jailed and later deported with literally nothing except Sh3,400 he earned while in jail. “We had a fight as my then wife Catherine Wambui could not bear children and I think I over-reacted on the issue,” he regrets.
He was arrested and jailed twice in a county jail for six months before being transferred to Houston, Texas, for another six months.
“My then wife visited me only twice and from then I received a letter from her Nigerian lawyer concerning the case. I did not respond because I notified him and the magistrate our misunderstanding would be better solved out of court,” he says. That was the last time he heard from his then wife as he was deported by two US Immigration officers to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in 2000.
Now, Ndirangu is languishing in poverty living a rented house paying Sh1,500 a month at London Estate next to largest dump site in Nakuru, Gioto, a far cry from his Sh7.9 dream house in the US. He lives from hand to mouth, as he cannot even afford Sh100 a day to fend for himself. He has now been forced to venture into pancake business with a capital of Sh250 in the sprawling London Estate just to make ends meet.
He sells one pancake for Sh5. He has become a laughing stock of relatives and friends. Ndirangu admits he has hit rock bottom in the last 10 years, but hangs on to hope that one day things will look up again. He says he misses his life and regrets being violent with his wife.
When he has time, he talks to young people about domestic violence and anger management. “I tell them that nothing they do to another human being goes unpunished. Our judicial system is not as strict as the US one, but you never get away with harming another human being,” he says.