Pat Ngurukie, 65, is a jovial and charismatic woman. Her looks don’t give the slightest indication of her age despite the many challenges she has faced. Pat went through a difficult marriage that threatened to scar her life but she gracefully picked herself up and moved on. Today, she is an accomplished author and her spirit remains vibrant and her faith in God unshakable. She walks ESTHER KIRAGU through her amazing life’s journey.
Pat Ngurukie was born in 1948 in Nyeri. She was only six when her mother, a staunch Christian, was persecuted and killed by the Mau Mau for failing to denounce Jesus Christ as her saviour and take the oath that was being administered at the time. Patricia’s elder sister had to discontinue with school to help raise their five siblings.
Growing up in the pre-independence era was difficult, especially since families were separated. Older boys and girls from the age of fifteen accompanied their fathers to designated camps every evening where they spent nights as home guards. And as such, her father was often away from home. Despite all this, she was able to attain primary education and later joined high school.
A complicated marriage…
A mutual friend introduced Pat to Ngurukie, a senior army officer, whom she married in 1972. She says despite being a Christian and knowing better, she still got married to a non-believer. The couple was blessed with three daughters – Corrinne, Rachel and Yvonne. They lived in an army house at Nairobi’s Valley Arcade. Patricia, at the time, worked as a secretary at Kenya Shell in Nairobi.
“Unfortunately my husband struggled with alcohol and when intoxicated became violent. He also took up a mistress and diverted his attention and resources towards her. They later went on to have children of their own. This was a difficult time for us as a family because I had retired from Kenya Shell and had no regular income to support my children,” explains Pat.
“Luckily, my oldest daughter, Corrinne, who had graduated from Daystar University and got a job, became the family’s breadwinner. Rachel at the time was in her final year at Daystar University and Yvonne had just finished her ‘O’ levels,” she adds.
Ngurukie started coming home at odd hours and the fact that Pat rarely questioned him made him think that she neither cared nor loved him. At such times he would become agitated and violent towards her. He was also unhappy for not having a son and blamed Pat for it.
Eventually, in 1996, after 24 years of marriage, Pat and her children were thrown out of their house. Pat recalls her husband being very irritated when he came home that night. He gave her a thorough beating and threatened to kill her but luckily her children came to her defense and for that, he threw all of them out of his house.
Pat sought refuge in her sister’s house in Golf Estate in Nairobi and later went to hospital for treatment of the wounds incurred from the beating. Although Pat reported the case to the police, she eventually decided to forgive her husband and withdrew the case amidst protest from some of her friends.
“Of course at the beginning I was very bitter because my husband left me for a younger woman. I began feeling sorry for myself and almost went into depression. But eventually I acknowledged that I too had played a part in our now broken marriage,” says Pat.
“Through God’s word, I learnt what it means not to be yoked to a non-believer. I had violated this truth and thus couldn’t have expected my marriage to turn any other way when our value systems were different,” she explains, adding that although God forgave her, she had to live with the consequences.
Pat remembers a few friends and family who stood with her at the time, and she is grateful to God for them. From this experience she learned that God is the ultimate source of comfort, love and protection.
Pat and her children lived with her sister for a while. Her daughters encouraged her and wouldn’t allow her to have a ‘pity-party’ about her failed marriage. They challenged her to stand strong. Soon she realised she had to wake up and be willing to try and start afresh, and with God’s help she got a new resolve in life.
Amazingly, her daughter, Yvonne,got a chance to pursue a university degree in the USA after completing her secondary education in 1995. With the help of her daughters and a few friends, they raised enough money through a fundraiser and sent Yvonne to USA in December 1996.
She and her two daughters later moved into a one bed-roomed house near Uthiru in the outskirts of Nairobi with few household possessions given to them by a relative. They had to adjust to this new lifestyle away from their well-furnished four bed-roomed house in Valley Arcade.
As time went by God blessed Corrinne and Rachel with good jobs. They then moved into a two bed-roomed house within the same area. It was around that time that God gave Pat an idea of helping churches to start bookshops within church premises.
She put the idea into a project proposal and sent it to various churches including her own Nairobi Pentecostal Church – Valley Road. The church employed her to implement her idea and in January 2000, Nairobi Pentecostal Church Bookshop was opened. With her income added to that of her daughters, their lifestyle improved tremendously.
Victory snatched from the jaws of defeat…
Pat and her children were now financially stable and in August 2000, they moved into a more spacious house in Nairobi’s Magiwa Estate where she lives to this day. She calls her home a house of prayer because she often uses it as a place where her Christian friends assemble for prayers. God continued blessing Pat and her children because Rachel got an opportunity to travel to US to pursue a degree in film production.
“Despite my failed marriage, I encouraged my children to have a relationship with their father irrespective of what we had gone through. I, too, kept in touch with him and sadly by then he had began ailing. Unfortunately, my husband died on August 14, 2008 while I had traveled to the US to visit our daughters. I am glad that we had forgiven him by then and told him so in person together with the woman he was living with,” says Pat.
Today, Pat and her daughters are a testament of unconditional forgiveness, hard work and perseverance. Corrinne, 40, works with the with Save the Children US; Rachel, 39, works in the USA with AT&T, a telecommunications company, while Yvonne, 35, works with Care International in Haiti.
Pat is now an accomplished storyteller and writer who has written and published several books including Soldier’s Wife, Businessman’s Wife, Tough Choices and C.E.O’s Wife among others.
She also works with the Kenya National Theatre to reenact some of the forgotten pre-colonial stories and has also partnered with an American Christian company to film Kenyan pre-colonial stories, featuring her as one of the actress, in a bid to preserve the Kenyan culture. Pat is working on making these stories available in audio form.
In addition, Pat was one of the African writers chosen in 1995 to go for an International Writing Programme in USA to get some exposure and a wide view of life, which would influence their writing. “All my books are based on my experiences or that of a friend or acquaintance. None of them is fiction,” she explains.
Finding fulfillment in life…
Pat is thankful to God and her daughters who have been her driving force, having challenged her to pick up the pieces and walk with her head raised high. “Probably if I didn’t go through the difficult experiences I did, I would not be the person I am today. Those experiences have shaped me and my faith in God,” she says.
In 2004, Pat and her two friends, Pamela Wafukho and Helen Mathu, started Hadassah Initiative, a programme that assembles women parliamentarians, wives of parliamentarians and women leaders in all sectors of the Kenyan society and challenges them to be women of excellence in every area of their lives, through prayer, friendship and biblical counsel. She believes that God is using her, a woman who was once written off by people, for His glory.
“My prayer is that if I am not able to leave huge mansions and lots of money for my children, at least I will leave them a legacy of a prayerful life and that of total dependence on God. I have equally taught them that no dream is too big to achieve. My advice to anyone betrayed by a spouse is to forgive. This is key in getting rid of bitterness and anger,” she says in conclusion.
More about Pat…
Pat went to Nakuru Secondary School for her high school education and then joined the then Government Secretarial College between 1969 and 1970 for a secretarial course.
She does not have any formal training in writing. She was inspired to become a writer by the oratory skills of the late president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, whose speeches she would translate from English to Kikuyu for her personal use.
Pat is published by Moran Publishers, formally Macmillan Publishers, who plan to re-launch her books in April this year. Her first book, The C.E.O’s Wife, was published by Kenya Literature Bureau. Her books are available in bookshops countrywide, and major outlets such as Nairobi’s Textbook Centre, Book Point and Savanis Bookshops.
She is currently working with Moran Publishers to develop books that can be used to teach Christian Religious Education (C.R.E.) syllabus in Kenyan primary schools.
She fellowships at Christ Is The Answer Ministries (CITAM), Valley Road. Her ministry, Hadassah Initiative, is open to all women parliamentarians, wives of parliamentarians and women leaders in all sectors of the Kenyan society.
Pat enjoys reading Christian books, jogging and meeting friends. She also does farming in Ndundori in Nakuru.
Published in January 2013