DIASPORA STORY: FAY KUNGU’S SAD STORY OF RAPE AND STOLEN INNOCENCE-VIDEO
Watching this impressionable young woman juggle her different hats whether as a gospel singer/songwriter, praise and worship leader, actor, screenplay writer, youth impactor etc, one would be mistaken to think that hers has been a rosy journey from her childhood in Kenya unto her maturity in the US. Far from it, for indeed behind that radiant smile, glowing face and charming demeanor lies the realities of a devastating and sad tale of a stolen innocence, the evidence of a life almost shattered and a trail of guilt, revenge and eventual victory over immense loss.
Meet Faith Kungu also known as Fay – a twenty-some year old woman currently residing in Seattle Washington and whose life altering tribulations go back to the tender age of nine while growing up in Kenya. Her’s is a gripping story of the loss of innocence and identity, a loss of self-worth, joy and pride and the story of a journey growing up in a world of betrayal, hurt, denial, anger, revenge and a quiet existence. It is a story that has remained untold for over 20 long years of internal strife and struggle with shame. And now after a confluence of fate and Fay’s deep soul searching, she tells of the long and lonely journey of healing, a confessed divine connection and a profound paradigm shift that has brought her peace of mind.
“The last 20 years has been an eternity. It has been 20 years of silence. It is no doubt a stretch of my life that I lost, and day upon countless days of expending excessive energies to cover my shame. A shame that I didn’t bring on myself but was visited on me at that tender age when life and adults around me should have been more protective and nurturing of the young life that I was, but instead they utterly failed me….” stated Fay to this writer.
Fay’s early childhood reads like any other child’s would growing up in Kenya. Her experiences as a small girl growing up with her three sisters and five brothers in a middle-class, Christian home and with two loving parents resonates with that of millions of children in Kenya back then. A childhood of Sunday school, waking up bright and early to prepare for school, evenings spent doing fun kid things like playing ‘kati’ with neighborhood kids, religious adherence to daddy’s supreme “laws”, chapati excitement during Christmas and the list goes on and on.
As many may agree, growing up Kenyan in the 70s’, 80’s and 90’s had one thing that was predominantly accepted without question and by all. And this was the undisputed hierarchical ranking of authority right from the family set up, the village, the town and the country. A father, an elder, a village headman/chief, policeman, a teacher, pastor, the president (Moi) etc were all part of the chain of command. These were the authorities and in one way or the other, disobedience to one was tantamount to disobedience to all and applicable heavy-handed discipline for failure to follow was never too far especially in the world of a child. Their authority was final.
And so, Fay’s was no different a life than the boy or girl next-door. But that entire normalcy was shattered shortly after her parents enrolled her in a boarding school for a better education. Arguably, enrollment of one’s child even at that tender age into boarding school (especially one aptly named as this-or-that academy) was the in-thing at that time. Not only was it for the purpose of investing in a quality education for one’s children, but it was also an expression of family status. And so by all expectations, Fay’s enrollment into an academy was supposed have been a positive life changing event far from what it turned out to be.
For it was in that boarding environment, where a normal school day included night study sessions (preps) that Fay’s life would change forever. For on one fateful evening and as all the other students were quietly in observance of prep time etiquette, Fay was lured into the staffroom at the beckoning of the teacher in charge of prep time – a predator in charge. A teacher that would abandon what should be his noble calling of shaping the minds of the delicate members of society and instead; he went ahead to perpetrate a violent and heinous crime on a child whose trusting mind could not fathom the betrayal, or small body absorb the violent shock of the intrusion and violation. In one unholy swoop, the innocence of a child had been stolen forever. An innocence and purity had been sacrificed at the altar of personal and twisted gratification of an evil man’s whims without a thought to the destruction unleashed.
A hurt, crashed and disillusioned Fay was to respond to this traumatic event by initially shutting down due to shame, self-blame and also in morbid fear of the perpetrators threats of what would befall her if she dared disclose of the rape. Unfortunately, her silence and submission to the perpetrator’s authority as a teacher as well as her continued confinement in the perpetrator-friendly boarding school environment only made things worse. The set-up presented a conducive environment for repeat offending. And repeatedly rape her with glee he did even as Fay died and died again inside. He had found a pleasure token, a sex object, a silent victim that posed no danger to him and his reputation as a teacher of great repute. The reality though was that Faith Kungu had become an unwilling sex slave at the tender age. Jailed by circumstances beyond her control in the same cage as this maniac of a man that was highly revered not only by society but by Fay’s own parents who were oblivious of this wolf in sheep’s clothing. She was emotionally and physically powerless in facing up to him.
And so Fay’s fallback position was one of retreating into a cocoon to hide her shame and then progressively, communicating her anger through rebellion and lashing out at anyone and everybody. “My personality changed from a jovial, warm-hearted and courageous girl into a bitter, angry and destroyed-being from this time on. My nightmare that would haunt me for close to 20 years had begun”, she told me.
And that was her life for this span of time that saw her mature from the altered childhood into a young woman heavy laden with the baggage from the past but who was determined to keep that baggage in private and as her own. So much was this desire that keeping her secret especially from her parents and siblings became obsessive even while the aftermath of the rapes was continually creating havoc in her life both emotionally as well as physically. She became the Weird Fay that would lock herself in her room for hours on end, the Strange Fay that would not want to share a bed even with her sister, the Squamish Fay that would jump at any slight touch of her body even by her own sisters, that Awkward Fay that would shy away from adolescent conversations on such matters as virginity as they reminding her of how hers was stolen from her, that Fidgety Fay that would discreetly suffer in shame as even the most normal daily events would trigger the visions from her forced encounters. In short, her life had become a rollercoaster of emotions.
She became multiple persons in one in her search of herself, in forcing herself to forgive the perpetrator, in passionate pursuit of revenge against her abuser, in her humble supplication to God for his forgiveness, mercy and love over her own life. Fay could in one moment be in deep intercession for herself and and then quickly switch to fervent scheming against whatever or whoever posed a perceived threat to her in the next second. Put mildly, the Fay you got to meet and know depended on where she was mentally at the time of the encounter. She could be that sweet, charming and warm-hearted woman that would make your heart fonder one minute or that revengeful, destructive, manipulative and cold-hearted woman that left your head spinning for all the wrong reasons – Faith Kungu was now different. And so she lived in that confusing existence for the remainder of her childhood and as a young adult consciously and unconsciously forcing her past experiences into the recesses of her mind.
Listening to Fay today, it’s more than evident that her choices in life today are heavily influenced by her past. From enrolling and graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Washington (UW) to her pursuit of a career in the Correction and Justice system – her past experience intertwines with her present. As a matter of fact, it is during her time at the UW that a chance encounter with another rape survivor, her professor, spurred her resolve to come out and speak out on her experiences. So timely and powerful was this interaction with her professor that it caused a paradigm shift within her and which made it easier for her to openly speak for the first time about her ordeal in a short documentary by Powerful Voices Project (https://www.youtube.com/
During a soon to air comprehensive interview with K360 TV, I asked her how she feels now that she’s finally speaking out about it. Does it bring some level of closure? Does she seek justice on the perpetrator? Would the jailing of the perpetrator bring her closer to healing? And in a somber yet determined and confident poise, Fay had this to say. “You can never get back what you lost in a rape. No amount of jail time, not even death of your perpetrator will completely give you closure or give you absolute healing. But i have realized that you can use your story not for you, but to heal the world. To save and protect a would-be rape victim through community engagement and give a voice to the many voiceless sexual assault survivors. And i intend to do exactly that through speaking engagements at youth forums, interviews such as these and more comprehensively in a book I’m currently writing”.
Fay declares that hers now is no longer a journey of shame, regret and revenge but rather one of purpose. A mission to create awareness of this issue in our schools and society at large, to give a voice to silent rape victims, to deter the re-victimization of rape survivors by breaking societal taboos through open conversation and to encourage parents to be very observant of the everyday development of their children. “ I believe this was not an isolated victimization, I believe my perpetrator most likely has many other victims in his count and i believe he is not the only offender in our school systems. Which leads me to conclude that there are hundreds if not thousands of silent victims who’s lives were shattered and who remain misunderstood by society or in perpetual conflict with life. My life purpose going forth is to do all within my God given abilities to break that vicious cycle and ensure that the innocence of our children is safeguarded and the smiles on their faces are not just masks under which lies the kind of brokenness i experienced” stated a resolute Fay.
By RON IMANENE