Daughter of renowned Kenyan Christian leader – Bishop Arthur Kitonga, Vicky Kitonga is a sought after, talented Gospel musician, with over 25 years in the music ministry. She recently earned her first Groove Award – Collabo of the Year for her song “Tulia”. Vicky is a jovial, confident woman who has a love for life, but it wasn’t always so. One summer’s eve, over a cup of tea with a group of women, Vicky narrated a side of her story known to few – her journey through years of being in an emotionally abusive marriage.
One night, with tears streaming down her face and driven by hopelessness and despair, Vicky got into her car and sped off to a destination rarely frequented – the cemetery. Overwhelmed by the emotional turmoil within and the painful events surrounding her life, she desperately needed a break. “Nothing makes sense,” she thought staring at the lifelessness the cemetery bore. The silence provided peace her mind hadn’t known and gave the illusion, she belonged. As thoughts of hopelessness intensified, her attention was drawn to a headstone. She moved closer and saw each headstone had names and dates inscribed on them. She began scrutinizing the dates and realized most of the deceased were her age mates. They could not change their state, but she could. That realization awakened her to a new purpose. She had to live. She could not give up. The cloud of hopelessness surrounding her life suddenly lifted and she felt the urgent desire to leave the place.
With tears of relief, Vicky hurried back to her car, hope renewed and full of gratitude. The world needed her. Her daughters needed her. She could not allow the abusive relationship redefine her. She was valuable, and she needed to live.
Vicky had a very happy childhood. Her parents molded a Christian home for her and her siblings. They always affirmed her, hence Vicky grew up with a high self image hoping to recreate that happy home once married. She thrived as a praise and worship leader and later as a Gospel artist. Being in the spotlight as the daughter of renowned Bishop of the Redeemed Gospel Churches of Kenya was at times challenging.
Vicky recalls the pressure of being the Bishop’s daughter. She remembers times she encountered hostility and judgement from congregants, who expected her to fit their expectations of how a preacher’s daughter ought to be. Her mother made their home a safe place to return to overcome such moments. She empathizes with pastor’s kids who go through similar situations. Her faith, she says, has helped her deal with the gossip that has followed her to date, saying she cannot satisfy everyone, she aims to keep her focus on God.
Her marriage was perhaps the hardest test she has had to endure. She recalls signs of trouble even before the marriage began, but she dismissed the signs, believing they could overcome their differences. With time, verbal and emotional abuse abuse intensified and her home became a place she dreaded coming back to. Despite this, Vicky persisted in her service to God. Ministering at church then returning home to a hostile husband, who on several occasions threatened her life.
“It was painful,” she confessed.
One evening, after ministering at a wedding, she came home to a locked gate. Pleas to her husband to let her in fell on deaf ears. He had kicked her out. And that marked the end of the her marriage. She had nowhere else to go, other than move back to her parents house. Defeated and burdened with financial obligations, she went into depression.
“You are a failure! You can amount to nothing! You are not good enough!”
Those lies kept ringing in her mind, as she battled with feelings of defeat and loneliness that engulfed her life after the separation. She credits her parents for helping her and her daughters find stability at a time when they desperately needed it.
Women Are Each Other’s Worst Enemies
As she struggled to stay afloat despite the downward spiral her life had taken, she was met with more hostility from fellow women. “Women can be each other’s worst enemies,” she laments. Fresh off her separation, she recounts walking in on her workmates gossiping about her failed marriage. The gossip, mockery and judgement followed her wherever she went. Although deeply hurtful, she decided to mute those voices and work on rebuilding her life. “We need to support each other,” she cautions women not to laugh at the misfortune of others. In church, some members deemed her unfit to lead worship because of her status as a single mother. With all the drama from her marriage, work and church compounded with feelings of worthlessness and the struggles of single parenthood, Vicky stops to ponder on one thing: how grateful she is that throughout all this, she never developed any stress-related health problems.
Rediscovering Your Value
“I have forgiven him,” she says of her ex-husband. Vicky confesses though the road has been hard, she is now healed of the pain of her failed marriage. Now focused on her growth and the well-being of her daughters, Vicky went back to school and will soon graduate with a degree in Leadership and Management. She challenges women to set high goals and work towards achieving them. “Empower yourselves, ” she says.
She still thinks highly of the institution of marriage. “I look forward to getting married again. I have so much love to give,” she concludes as she urges women in marriage to take good care of their husbands.
A Bright Future
Vicky has mastered social media and uses it to empower other women and give hope to those who have given up in life. She is a voice that was once silenced, but now commands great following on YouTube and Facebook. She also occasionally reaches out to inmates at Lang’ata women’s prison offering donations and hope in the midst of their difficult circumstances. The epitome of a strong woman, Vicky has embraced life after rediscovering her value.
“Problems will always be there in life, what matters is how you handle them.”
– Vicky Kitonga.