Kenyan Diplomat Accused Of Domestic Slavery In Rockville Home | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Kenyan Diplomat Accused Of Domestic Slavery In Rockville Home

Play associated audio
Lucy Mwaka stands outside the Kenyan embassy holding a flier accusing a diplomat of slavery.
Armando Trull/WAMU
Lucy Mwaka stands outside the Kenyan embassy holding a flier accusing a diplomat of slavery.

A young woman from Kenya claims a Kenyan diplomat made her a domestic slave for four years.

Outside the Kenyan embassy, about a dozen protesters chanted on behalf of Lucy Mwaka, the 23-year-old woman says she was lured to America from Nairobi by the Kenyan Embassy's Head of Public Affairs Waithira Njuguna in 2010. Lucy says promises made in writing by Njuguna about good wages, paid medical care and vacations were never kept.

"She was on-call 24 hours a day often working 16 to 20 hours a day and was not allowed to go to sleep until she was given permission to do so," says Sheena Wadhawan, Lucy's attorney.

"I have to wait until she goes to sleep and says, 'Oh, you can turn the lights off,'" Lucy explains.

Lucy says her employer forced her to work for other Kenyan diplomats.

"They say, 'Oh, my house is dirty you need to come and clean up, my kids are hungry you need to cook food for a week,' so I go there and do all that and they don't pay me," Lucy says.

When Lucy did get paid, it was $250 a month, explains Wadhawan, who adds there may be other violations.

"Potential involuntary servitude, perhaps rising to the level of false imprisonment since Lucy wasn't free to move around or leave the residence," Wadhawan says.

Lucy says her employer warned her about running away.

"Threats of what's going to happen to your family, 'Oh you're going to get deported, you're going to be homeless,'" Lucy says.

When asked if she knew what a slave was, Lucy adds: "That was me... that was me."

This past March, Lucy overcame her fears and managed to escape her employer's Rockville, Maryland, town house.

At that same house, Njuguna was asked about the allegations, but declined to respond. Her boss, Ambassador Jean Kamau, did not respond to interview requests either.

Lucy plans to sue Njuguna for $200,000 in back wages and penalties.

"It's better to sleep under a bridge than in a mansion where you feel you can't breathe — I feel great," Lucy says.

Letter to the Kenyan ambassador from attorney for Lucia Mwaka

NPR

Making A Change To Keep A Constant Consonant

Given two words, change the first consonant sound in each word to the same new consonant sound and you'll phonetically name two things in the same category.
WAMU 88.5

Hops Coming Home: Loudoun County To Add Hop Production Facility

The first commercial-scale hop production and processing facility in the region is being planned out in Loudoun County, further adding to the region's burgeoning beer business.

NPR

Families Feel Sidelined As U.S. Reviews Hostage Policy

The White House is reviewing how it handles hostage crises following the brutal murders of Americans abroad, but families of hostages say they're often left out of the conversation.
NPR

Car Ride Service Puts Gender In The Driver's Seat

Car share programs are extremely popular, but so are concerns for safety. NPR's Tess Vigeland talks to Stella Mateo, founder of SheRides, which allows passengers to choose the gender of their driver.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.