Giriama heroine Mekatilili wa Menza gets Google doodle

Mekatilili wa Menza’s digital image appearing on the Google search page on August 9,2020. PHOTO | GOOGLE

What you need to know:

  • More than 4,000 people across the world have been honoured through Google’s doodles.
  • Historical records say Mekatilili died in 1924.

A legendary Kenyan woman is today appearing on the home page of Google Search, joining the few Kenyans who have ever received the honour.

For the whole day today, Mekatilili wa Menza’s digital image will appear on the page where Google users type their queries, alongside a customised spelling of the word “Google” – a combination the search engine calls a doodle.

Google says it chose to honour Mekatilili, a Giriama woman who actively fought against colonial rule, because she dared act at a time when women’s power was limited within her society.

Other Kenyans who have featured in the Google doodle include doctor-cum-author Margaret Ogola, who died in 2011, Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai who also died in 2011 and Kimani Maruge, the world’s oldest pupil who joined school aged 84 in 2004. He died in 2009. Historical records say Mekatilili died in 1924.

More than 4,000 people across the world have been honoured through Google’s doodles. They are handpicked by a team before they are developed into the digital images that feature on the search page.

Ms Dorothy Ooko, Google’s head of communications and public affairs for Africa, says there are many reasons the America-based technology giant chose to honour Mekatilili.

“(She) had a heart that was full of passion. Passion for freedom. Freedom against the oppressors of her people. We remember that her resistance quest led to her imprisonment in a far land in western Kenya, and that she had to walk 965 kilometres to get back to her land after escaping from the prison,” Ms Ooko said in a statement to newsrooms.

Ms Yvonne Khamati, acting CEO of the National Heroes Council, told the Sunday Nation Mekatilli’s recognition by Google contributes towards inculcating the culture of heroism and service among Kenyans.

“We shall ensure more of our female heroines are unearthed, highlighted and feted,” said Ms Khamati.

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi said: “Today, Google Doodle is honoring a true daughter of our land, Mekatilili Wa Menza, a fearless and gallant Giriama woman warrior who led her people in the resistance against the British colonial rule.”

He added: “We also remember Mekatilili wa Menza for the Mepoho’s prophecy, which was about the coming of strange people who had hair like sisal fibres and moved in flying vessels as well as those moving on water and land.”

“As the County Government of Kilifi, we commemorate Mekatilili wa Menza annually during the month of August and remind ourselves of Mekatilili Wa Menza’s legacy and emulate her courageous spirit, and also to celebrate women who fought for independence in Kenya. #mekatilili