What you need to know:
- Muthoni was thoroughly beaten up by the officers who were hunting for her husband, General Stanley Mathenge wa Mirugi, a Mau Mau freedom fighter.
- She is also filled with optimism that she will one day reunite with her husband General Mathenge, who is believed to be among those who started the Mau Mau rebellion together with Dedan Kimathi.
- As the struggle for independence continued, she was arrested and detained at Kamiti Maximum Prison.
Miriam Muthoni Mathenge had a month-old baby, Wambui Mathenge when about 20 policemen – under the instruction of the colonial government – stormed her house at Gitugi in Othaya, Nyeri County.
Muthoni was thoroughly beaten up by the officers who were hunting for her husband, General Stanley Mathenge wa Mirugi, a Mau Mau freedom fighter.
In the company of a friend, Muthoni ran into the nearby forest as they fled the atrocities of the colonial government, the baby in her arms.
“As I was escaping, I had my daughter Wambui Mathenge. I remember carrying her on my back as we navigated through the thick Aberdare forest. I had to stop breastfeeding her so that I could get enough energy to soldier on,” Muthoni says.
“The struggle was tough and full of torture. I was detained thrice. In total, I spent seven years in detention. Many people died in detention cells,” she adds.
As the struggle for independence continued, she was arrested and detained at Kamiti Maximum Prison.
“When I was relocated from Nyeri to Kamiti, my daughter was left at Nyeri Provincial General Hospital where she was taken care of together with other children whose parents were in detention,” Muthoni tells the Nation at her home in Laburra village in Kieni West sub-county.
Muthoni never saw her daughter again. It has been six decades since.
“She could have been traumatised due to the tough times we underwent during the pre-colonial and post-colonial periods. I have not seen her for years and she has never visited me. I don’t know where she went to but I believe she is somewhere alive,” the Mau Mau war veteran says.
“I want to tell her that I still love her and she should come home. It is my hope and prayer that my daughter Wambui will one day come and pay me a visit,” she continues.
She is also filled with optimism that she will one day reunite with her husband General Mathenge, who is believed to be among those who started the Mau Mau rebellion together with Dedan Kimathi. He is presumed to have died in Ethiopia.
“If you get married and live together for some months then you get separated by fate, will you be happy to lose that person? Since I lost my dear Mathenge, I have never been at peace. I am still filled with thoughts about him because a husband is regarded as a pillar of the home,” Muthoni says.
Though about 103 years old, Muthoni recalls how she went into exile in the neighbouring Murang’a County after the death of Chief Nderi Wango’mbe. That is when policemen stormed her house and brutally beat her up.
President Jomo Kenyatta awarded her a 55-acre piece of land at Laburra village in Kieni, Nyeri County, where she has lived with her children since 1964.
Muthoni went partially blind a year ago under unclear circumstances and cannot conduct chores by herself.
As Kenya marks this year’s Mashujaa Day, Muthoni has little to smile about as she recounts unfulfilled promises by successive governments following the country’s liberation. Her main wish is to meet President William Ruto.
“I want to meet President Ruto and narrate to him the challenges I have been going through. I have been praying for him. I believe he will build a decent house for me and ensure that I enjoy piped water,” she says.
Muthoni had seven children but only Peter Mathenge, Lucy Wanjiru Mathenge and Wambui Mathenge are alive.
She wishes to put part of the 55-acre land under irrigation but has over the years had no water supply. She also wants President Ruto to help her grandchildren secure jobs.