Kenya's No 1 GhettoRadio



After spending 10 years in the streets of Nairobi, James Kilonzo is now eager to go back home in order to reunite with his family.

Kilonzo who ran away from home in Tala Kagundo Machakos County while he was 14 years says he regrets making such a move.

In a candid interview with Ghetto Radio, James says he always wanted to go back home to his family and friends but he has never had a chance as he was not mentally fit.

“Nilitokanga 2012 nilikuwa nimeogopa shule lakini nikiona life vile imenipeleka nimeamua kurudi nyumbani tu. hii maisha ya kulala nje na umewacha hata wazazi nyumbani si poa, nimeamua nitoke kwa hiyo life nibadilishe maisha yangu na nisaidie familia.I escaped from home in 2012 because I did not like going to school….but I have now decided to go back home. I have gone through a lot of anguish in the streets and have learned my lesson,” he revealed.

He has been living in the streets of Nairobi, Muthurwa market and in Ngara specifically since he left home in 2012 vowing not to return again.

“Vile nilikuja Nairobi sikua najua mtu..nilipatana na sufferer mmoja akanionyesha njia…kama ni kubeba gunia ili nipate pesa. I decided to escape to Nairobi from Tala without knowing anyone…luckily I met a friend in the streets who gave me insights of how to withstand the city and make a living,” he added.

He reveals that frequent fights between him and his mother prompted him to run away as he felt his mother who is a single mother did not give him the attention he wanted.

He also says as a child then he felt like he was doing many chores at home, chores that hindered him to socialize with friends.

“Hiyo time ilikuwa Jumapili baada ya kanisa  nikadandia lorry hapo kwa barabara maana nilikuwa nimekasirishana na mama, lakini vile nimekaa hizo miaka sasa nimetamani kurudi nyumbani kwetu na tukae kwa amani.tulikorofishana juu ya kazi ya kulima kwa sababu sikua napenda kulima.I ran away from home on a Sunday after attending church service…I held onto a moving lorry heading to Nairobi and that is how I arrived in the city, but after staying here all those years I have decided to go back home. Frequent fights with my mum over me failing to do farming made me to run away from home,”

Life in the streets of Nairobi

Kilonzo the first born child in his family is a brave young man and he is learned to survive on the streets. While on the streets he has been able to find work as a street sweeper at Wakulima market in Nairobi, carry sacks of goods on his back and even being a Mkokoteni pusher in order to earn a living.

“Nilikuwa nalala tu kwa streets Muthurwa ndani ya soko, nikahamia Ngara baadaye….hii maisha ya kulala kwa gunia na nimewacha kitanda nyumbani sio fiti..wacha tu niende nifanye kazi huko nyumbani kushinda kuwaste masaa hapa Nairobi.I used to sleep inside Muthurwa market and on the pavements in Ngara, but I later felt like what I was doing wasn’t right…I mean why sleep on the pavement yet I have a mattress back at home?” Kilonzo asked.

He alleges that the cold hard pavements a top a small flattened carton box was the order of the day for him together with his fellow streets children whenever they wanted to sleep as they could not afford to buy themselves  mattresses.

While opening up to us about how street life has been to him, he says there are other days he went through hell that he could not wish to anyone not even his enemy accusing police officers of being behind his misery.

“Unapatanga mkidoze usiku, makarau wanawakutilia hapo, walikuwa wanatupiga manyaunyo mkiwa mumelala halafu wanawarusha kwa maji , wanawatoa nguo zote halafu wanaturusha kwa rive ya pale Riverside Ngara. Most of the time while sleeping under the bridge around Riverside area, police officers would harass us, beat us and even undress us at night and later throw us in the river…I hated it.,”

And while the county government of Nairobi has set up funds to cater for street children, Kilonzo alleges that he hasn’t benefitted from it.

In 2021, the Nairobi county government set up 40 million shillings in rehabilitation and reintegration of street and other vulnerable children in Nairobi.

The exercise which was supposed to be carried out in phases aimed at reducing the number of street children on the streets.

“The allocation is meant to promote the rights of children and provide protection by rescuing them from difficult circumstances and improve the state of childcare facilities,” Nairobi county education CEC then Janed Ouko said.

A research study done by the United Nations Children’s Fund(UNICEF) in 2007 said that between 250,000 and 300,000 children live and work on the streets across Kenya with more than 60,000 of them being in Nairobi.

In a phone conversation with Ghetto Radio, Katunge, Kilonzo’s grandmother welcomed Kilonzo back home saying she did not have a problem with him.

Kilonzo who would like to be sponsored by well-wishers in order to study carpentry or Masonry took the opportunity to ask for forgiveness from his family vowing not to repeat the vice again as he now knows better.

“Kama county government ya Nairobi ingeweza kutufunza sisi streets kids mambo ya ucarpenter au kuwa mason basi ingetusaidia….mimi napenda hizo jobs…nikilipiwa itakuwa fiti ajab. I urge the Nairobi county government to come up with an initiative to impact street children with skills…. I would like to study  a Carpentry or even Masonry course,”


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