In Mukami’s death, Kenya has lost a hero

Mukami Kimathi

Mukami Kimathi, widow of the late freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi at the family home in Komarock on December 3, 2022.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

According to the Agikuyu culture, one’s mother or any of her age mates is his or her mother as well. So Mukami Kimathi is my mother.

Many years ago, in 1957, Mukami lost her husband, Dedan Kimathi, in the most cruel manner. He was hanged by the colonial government for engaging in “terrorism.” Worse was to follow when the celebrated freedom hero was buried in an unmarked grave at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.

His wife lived long enough to tell the story, but very few people cared to listen. So as the curtain falls on the better half of Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi, six feet undergo not just the story of the war general but a rich history of our freedom struggle.

Kenya refused to learn from South Africa and her heroes and heroines continue to live in isolation and poverty. The political class only appears at the tail end to offer to pay medical bills and take care of the last expense. It is a shame.

Mukami did not live like a wife of a war veteran, but rather like the partner of a criminal. Didn't her husband pay the ultimate price so that you and I can be free?

What has been so difficult about giving her and her family befitting status? What's so difficult about nominating any of her children to Parliament? I hope Dedan Kimathi will forgive this country for betraying him. I hope the families of those who played a part in making Kenya free will be allowed to bask in some sunshine.

I hope someone out there will tell the story of the capture of our nation by the colonists, the humiliation that some of our grandparents had to endure, forced labour, slave-like working conditions, the flogging, the struggle for independence, the challenges that came with it and the fall of the Union Jack.

Joe Mungai, Washington State, USA 

Kenya has lost a great icon of the struggle for independence with the passing on of Mama Mukami Kimathi, the widow of freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi, on Friday in Nairobi aged 96.

Mukami was a key figure in the fight for Kenya’s independence, offering unwavering support for her husband during his time as a Mau Mau guerrilla leader. She endured great hardships, including imprisonment and torture, but never wavered.

After the death of her husband in 1957, Mama Mukami continued to be an advocate for the rights of Kenyans and a champion for social justice. 

Throughout her life, Mukami remained committed to advocating for the rights of the marginalised and disenfranchised. She was a shining example of courage and resilience. As Kenyans mourn Mama Mukami's passing, they can take comfort in the fact that her spirit will continue to inspire generations to come.

Damianus Kirschstein Obondo, Nairobi