Celebrating International Widow's Day with Dianah Kamande: One of Kenya's Gifts

I first met Dianah on Facebook, as I have many other widows living abroad. We connected a little over a year ago and have stayed in touch ever since. We were both members of a few private Facebook widow groups, one being, Hope for Widows and my online private group, Black Women Widows Empowered - A Safe Place for Widowed Women. It was there, where we developed our friendship.

In reading through her Facebook timeline I could tell she was a passionate woman who meant business. She hustled unlike any other widow I knew. On a daily basis, her posts captured the essence of Nairobi, the essence of young and old widows, and more importantly, the essence of Dianah Kamande. Dianah (named after her father’s mother) is a young and beautiful widow who does not look her age. She founded the nonprofit organization, Come Together Widows and Orphans in Nairobi, Kenya. Her captivating smile speaks life to anyone that is blessed enough to be among her surroundings, no matter the class. Whether speaking to her directly or receiving a kind word from her on paper, there is one thing that you will surely appreciate her passion and love for God.

I’ve tried to interview Dianah twice for my radio show within the last year but unfortunately, it was not meant to be. You see, I always believe in the season of things, and it just wasn’t our season to connect. But now, our season has finally arrived. It’s International Widow’s Day and it’s her time to share; and share she does. I hope you receive this interview with an open heart and humbly digest what she has to communicate to us widows in the ‘states’ so that we can glean from the quest, outcry and more importantly the resilience of our dear widowed African queen sistas, and widow leaders.

Here is my interview:

BWWE: I've read the stories and watched plenty interviews about you but many readers haven't. Can you tell our readers how Dianah Kamande and Come Together Widows and Orphans came to evolve? DK: My name is Dianah Wanjiku Kamande. I am 35 years old and was widowed in 2013. I am a mother of two beautiful girls, Praise Nyokabi and Cate Precious. I became a widow as a result of domestic violence when my husband of ten years came home and had planned to kill all of us in the family. When his attempts failed, he turned the knife on himself.

I survived with several horrible injuries and was rushed to Guru Nanak hospital where head surgery was performed. I was fitted with five plastic nerves due to his injuries. After a week I underwent hand surgery and was fitted with multiple metal plates because he had broken my left hand. Finally, after the second week in the hospital, I underwent a breast surgery because he had pierced my right breast. It was a tough time but it was at this time I realized so many of my visitors in the hospital were widows and survivors of past cases of violence who had chosen to keep quiet with their stories.

As I sat as a survivor on that hospital bed, I still went through widow abuse. My in-laws accused me of my husband’s death, I was insulted and called a prostitute, and while in the hospital my property and even household items were taken away. Because my hand was plastered and unable to use the phone like I wanted, my brother assisted me as I googled to see if our Kenyan constitution (2010) clearly defined my rights as a widow and survivor of violence, but unfortunately, I found nothing. It was then that I requested to be given a notebook and pen. I began to draft a Widow’s Bill.

After my discharge from the hospital, I invited a group of 15 widows to my home and 25 arrived. Word got around.