Tales of El Adde: The anguish of a KDF officer's wife

Published: January 29, 2020

Agnes Ng’oshosh’s husband, a major in the Kenyan army had just come home on leave when he was recalled to lead a rescue mission for his colleagues in El Adde. 

An attack by al Shabaab militants on January 15, 2016, had left more than 120 soldiers dead and scores wounded in Somalia’s Gedo region.

Agnes would have none of it. She was not going to allow her beloved husband back into the battlefield. 

“I screamed and cried late into the night demanding that my husband resigns from the army,” she says.

The El Adde tragedy changed her ready heart to a fearful one.

“My husband had just arrived home on leave. Even before his leave started, the gruesome attack happened,” Ng’oshosh says. 

In the book Soldiers Legacy, Ng’oshosh says her husband was awakened by a call from his colleague asking if he had any information on the attack.

“I was shocked and gripped by fear, well aware that he has just been there for a week before. I cried uncontrollably, aching for the families that had now lost their loved ones,” she says.

“Being a strong-hearted man did not prevent my husband from breaking down.”

Major Ng’oshosh left home on January 17, 2016, to go back to search for and rescue his comrades. 

He had received a call at around midnight the previous day from his commanding officer.  

Agnes had arrived home at about 11.30 pm from consoling and comforting her friend whose husband had died during the attack.

She couldn’t sleep. She worried about her sons and what might befall her husband. 

“What would happen to my sons? I remember calling my sister and sisters-in-law requesting them to pray for his safety. I questioned God as to why he selected him from the many officers available for the task.”

Ng’oshosh says that anyone who has ever cheated death will attest that being dragged back to the same place or situation is terrifying and traumatising.

“… but both of us understood that he signed up for this noble calling. At around 4 am he went to our sons’ bedroom. He woke them up and bid them goodbye,” she said.

Agnes was not ready to see him off.  She cried and pleaded with the husband but none of it worked.

“The pleas did not change anything. He had to fulfil his duty. The tragedy claimed the husband of one of my friends. His whereabouts remain unknown to date. Trying to explain to her that God was in control and had a reason for what had happened was gibberish to her.

“She had never thought of or prepared herself for this. As she grieved about her missing and probably dead husband, I was equally crying and worrying for my husband and his colleagues out there on the rescue mission. 

“But that is the life I chose and there is no turning back. Now words like El Adde, al Shabaab, Somalia and bombs have become part of our son’s vocabulary,” she said. 

Ng’oshosh said even as the mission was successful, she now has to cope with a traumatised husband since his return

But that is the life I chose and there is no turning back. The thought of losing a husband… in the war front is unthinkable”

Agnes Ngo’shosh


Ng’oshosh notes that when her husband was called up for a mission to Somalia, no comforting words could bring peace into her heart.

“The day of his departure and the subsequent days were really hard for me. Means of communication were unreliable due to poor communication network,” she said.

“This really caused me a lot of anxiety on whether or when I would hear from him. Death is dreaded by all and it hits without notice.”

She noted that being a soldier’s wife is extremely challenging especially with unconfirmed news of attacks.

“The thought of losing a husband, a wife, a son, a daughter, a father or a mother in the battlefront is unthinkable. It is even harder when you are put in a position of comforting members of the deceased families,” she added.

Source; The-Star

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