When Lomniaki was little, he used to lie on his own in the dark house all day long. He could hear the other children in the village laughing and playing outside.
“I don’t really know why dad didn’t want the others to see me, but I think he was ashamed of me. Mum didn’t think that way at all, but it was dad who made the decisions. Sometimes when dad was out with the livestock she would secretly carry me out and put me under a tree in the village for a while. Then I could watch the other children playing. But no-one played or talked with me,” says Lomniaki.
Lomniaki’s dad said he couldn’t start school.
“He didn’t see the point in me going to school, because I’d never be able to look after the livestock anyway or get a job and earn money and help the family when I was older. I hated dad then, because he ruined my life.”
In the end, his mum Paulina couldn’t stand it anymore. She felt so bad at how Lomniaki was being treated that she decided to leave her husband. One day, she picked Lomniaki up on her back and they left the village for good. Paulina walked across the savannah to her parents’ village, and they were welcomed there by Lomniaki’s grandfather and his uncles and their families.
At first, Lomniaki thought that everything was much better. He met people who were kind to him and who talked to him. Mum or his uncles carried him out in the morning and laid him on a cow skin under the big acacia tree.
“But the other children soon got tired of being with me. They ran off. And when they went to school, I was left under the tree.
“It felt embarrassing not to be able to cope on my own, and I became more and more depressed. I gradually realised what my life would be like. I would never get to go to school. Never get a job. I thought it was unfair, and felt like I was worth less than others.
“My name Lomniaki means ‘blessing’, but I thought it must have been some kind of mistake. My name was probably meant for another boy. I was no blessing. I was a curse.”