Family, friends call for justice for Kenyan killed in U.S.
Sep. 30, 1997
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ His priest called him an innocent youth. A politician said he was a victim of racist killers. After being stabbed to death in America, a 24-year-old Kenyan was buried today near his rural home outside Nairobi.
Family, friends and the U.S. ambassador all agreed the killing of Edwin Lawrence Njuguna in Napa, California, was a tragedy that shouldn't have happened.
``If the U.S. government doesn't get his killers, God will,'' Rev. Peter Kogu said at a memorial service in Nairobi's Seventh Day Adventist Church.
The FBI was investigating a possible racial motive in the death of the Kenyan immigrant Sept. 12.
Njuguna and two friends were in a car that stopped near a high school, apparently to let people going to a party cross the street.
What happened next is not clear: Njuguna's father, David, said three skinheads from the party jumped Edwin and his friends, used racial slurs, pulled them from the car, kicked them on the ground and stabbed two of them.
Njuguna was stabbed three times, including a fatal wound to the heart. Samir Abdalla was stabbed in the back, but his wounds were not life-threatening. Ryan Perez's wrist was broken.
``He was murdered for no reason other than his color,'' said Paul Muite, a member of Parliament from Njuguna's home at Kikuyu, a province in central Kenya. ``He was black, and had the misfortune to encounter a bunch of murderous racists.''
``This happened in one of the world's biggest democracies,'' Muite said. ``It is frightening and disappointing that no one has been arrested. So far, Edwin's murderers walk free.''
Prudence Bushnell, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, said she shared the Njuguna family's concerns for swift justice.
``Police in Napa Valley have interviewed about 30 people. Now the FBI has taken over. I have personally asked the State Department to send somebody to Napa to convey your concerns,'' Bushnell told the family.
Bushnell paid a tribute to the ``fine, young man, one of the many who come to the states with a smile, full of hope and full of dreams for a better future.''
Edwin's American girlfriend, Autumn, and their year-old baby, Savannah Njuguna, did not make it to the funeral and burial in Gikambura, just north of Nairobi.
The only son in the family of five, Njuguna first went to the United States 11 years ago as an exchange student. After graduating from Liberty Junior High in Ferndale, N.Y., he moved to Los Angeles to be closer to relatives there.
Njuguna continued his education at Mark Twain Junior High School in Los Angeles, then went to Napa Valley Senior High near San Francisco, where he was the only African graduate.
Sam Nganga, a friend of the slain Kenyan, said he last saw Njuguna 10 years ago. ``We grew up, three of us together,'' Nganga said. ``One left for India, I stayed in Kenya and we all thought Edwin did best, in the United States. Perhaps not so.''