The Gikomba fire that razed part of the popular market was a reminder on the finality of death. 15 people died and 60 were injured in what will go down in infamy for the toll it has taken on the many who rely on the market as there bread and butter.
But as with all tragedies there is an unlikely human hero that emerges from the rubble. This story has that in a street-boy who roams the market looking for scarps and left-overs that they can scavenge.
Tyson Maina, is a street boy who earns his daily wage by hauling goods for those running businesses at Gikomba market in Nairobi. But things changed on Thursday for Tyson as he and other street-boys found themselves fighting not for their livelihoods but for the lives of others.
I was woken up by a blast that was followed by a series of sparking on power cables near the market,” We started shouting to warn people who were sleeping in the flats, but our efforts to save them were thwarted by security guards, who locked the gates to the apartment blocks fearing that looters would invade them.
Joseph Muge, another street boy involved, also revealed what they had done after the fire started:
We rushed in with containers and drew water from the river and tried to put out the fires, but the police chased us away soon after they arrived. We then forced our way into a nearby building to rescue those who were trapped. There were bodies along the staircases in one of the buildings. I counted more than ten bodies.
Muge also added how they had tried to save those above the third floor but couldn’t as it got too hot and hazy. Beth Njambi, an eyewitness, confirmed that the street children were the first responders who went and got water from the river to fight the fire.
At the end it all, 15 people are claimed to have died. The government maintains that the number was less. Regardless what we can surmise from this story is that these courageous street-boys both named and unnamed prevented many more deaths.
And for that, we here at Mpasho.co.ke salute them.