Kenya’s Final Farewell to Mau Mau Heroine Kimathi

Mukami Kimathi, the wife of Kenyan freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi, has been eulogized for her role in championing the rights of fellow Mau Mau fighters during her lifetime.

Kenyan icon Mukami Kimathi, whose husband Dedan Kimathi led a bloody resistance against British colonial rule during the 1950s, will be buried in her rural town of Njabini, in Kenya’s Nyandarua County on Saturday.

The state-sponsored ceremony will be led by Kenyan President William Ruto, who described Mukami as a “legendary fighter.”

Ruto’s predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta — whose father Jomo Kenyatta was Kenya’s founding president — hailed Mukami as “a true patriot (who) never failed to play her role as a mentor and a leader worthy emulating.”

“For those of us who had the privilege of interacting with her, we will forever cherish the moments we shared and thank God for having given us the opportunity to associate with such a great warrior,” Kenyatta said in a statement.

Who was Mukami Kimathi?

Mukami — a wife, a mother of eight daughters and two sons, and a freedom fighter — was key in planning Kenya’s independence struggle.

She coordinated the women when it came to oath administration, resource mobilization, positioning spies and supplying food to fighters in the forest during the Mau Mau uprising.

Mau Mau fighters, who were brutally targeted by British forces before independence, held her in very high regard and nicknamed her “The Wasp.”

She went unseen by British soldiers as she conducted activities that sustained the struggle for independence.

Kimathi’s death — on May 4 in a Nairobi hospital — comes at a time when Western nations are working to right the wrongs of Kenya’s dark colonial past.

‘Symbol of resistance’

Many have eulogized Mukami Kimathi as an icon.

“She has been the beacon of hope surrounding the freedom fighters and their descendants, we are therefore as a nation very saddened that we have lost our mother who has been ailing for a while,” said Kenya’s deputy president, Rigathi Gachagua, who also described her as a symbol of resilience and defiance to the oppression.

Kimathi’s nephew, Charles Gitahi, told DW that Mukami had held the family together, she was God-fearing and showed them the way of Christ.

Locating Dedan Kimathi’s remains

Mukami Kimathi died without seeing the remains of her husband, who was one of Kenya’s only three self-styled field marshalls during the independence struggle.

He was executed by British soldiers on February 18, 1957.

The colonialists dumped his body in an unmarked grave at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, presumably to stop Kenyans from turning the grave into a shrine.

For the last six decades of her life, Mukami Kimathi begged authorities in both Britain and Kenya to show her where the husband was buried — without success.

Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga joined in the push.

“The last wish of Mama Mukami was that she would like the body of her husband to be exhumed from where it was buried in Kamiti prison and interred together with hers next to each other at their home in Njambini this was her wish,” said Odinga.

Odinga’s sentiments were echoed by former Mau Mau fighter Gitu Wa Kahengeri.

“We’d like the government to ensure that Kimathi’s body, which was buried in an unmarked grave, be exhumed and the remains buried alongside the wife during her burial ceremony in Njambini Kinangop,” Kahengeri said.

Many now want the British government to reveal the unmarked grave in which Dedan Kimathi was buried so that the family can finally give their father a decent send off.

Dedan Kimathi’s son, Simon Maina, had earlier told DW that he would like to bury his father’s remains in a dignified manner.