A man was rescued from a 60 foot-deep pit in Chuka, Tharaka Nithi County on Wednesday, June 3, having spent 13 days in the pit.
Sources who spoke to Kenyans.co.ke revealed that the 42-year old man was well known to area residents, and was said to be mentally ill.
It remains unclear how he fell into the pit, but after a few days, locals began to raise questions on his whereabouts as his absence from the area was unusual.
More concerted efforts were made by those close to him to find him in the coming days before he was identified in the pit at a local farm.
He was rescued from the pit by area residents and came out dazed and, seemingly weak.
“Of course people were happy and all that but he wasn’t even talking (when he came out). People had already noticed that he was not around, but then now he was found in the pit,” the source disclosed.
As his photos were shared on social media, many Kenyans shared heart-warming messages as they marveled at the happy ending to a scary ordeal.
In particular, many wondered how the man survived 13 days in the deep pit without food or water.
It also sparked debate on the state of mental health and its management in Kenya, with little attention paid to the welfare of mentally ill individuals in various communities.
In stark contrast to recommendations that such individuals get professional help, many are subjected to the outcast tag by people who are sometimes family members seeking to disassociate, adding to the stigma.
According to a paper published in 2018 by Dr Kamau Nyoro, a Clinical Psychiatrist at Mathari Hospital and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) lecturer, Kenya has only about 88 psychiatrists and 427 psychiatrist nurses who are trained to handle mental illness.
Government statistics cited in the paper, titled The State of Mental Health in Kenya, also revealed that about one in four Kenyans, or 11.5 million people, have suffered from a mental illness at one point in their lives.
“The stigma of mental illness in Kenya and by extension in Africa has caused many people to suffer in silence. In Africa mental issues are attributed to either witchcraft or spiritual problem,” Nyoro observed.