62 years after hanging: Dedan Kimathi grave found

Dedan Kimathi Waciuri was hanged and buried in an unmarked grave at Kamiti Maximum Prison in Nairobi. [File, Standard]

The burial site of freedom hero Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi Waciuri has been finally identified.

Kimathi was executed on February 18, 1957, effectively ending the Mau Mau war of independence, one of Africa’s most vicious peasant revolutions.

After the hanging, he was interred in an unmarked grave at Kamiti Maximum Prison in Nairobi.

And just six days to his would-be 99th birthday, the gravesite has been identified at the prison.

A foundation in his name made the claims today saying the discovery followed ‘numerous concerted efforts, spearheaded by the Government of the Republic of Kenya’.

“This development is not just great news for the Dedan Kimathi family but also the larger freedom struggle heroes fraternity,” the foundation’s CEO Evelyn Wanjugu Kimathi said.

Wanjugu added that they will now seek orders to exhume the remains.

“We now remain fingers crossed as we wait for Chief Justice David Maraga to allow for the excavation and exhumation of the Kimathi’s remains for a decent burial,” she said.

Prison officials are yet to comment on the discovery.

Kimathi, a former soldier and primary school teacher, a diary and timber clerk, a pig farmhand with a missing left index finger, led the Mau Mau rebellion against the British Colonial Government in Kenya in the 1950s.

After his capture by a colonial officer, Ian Henderson on the edges of Mt Kenya Forest, he was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition which was against regulation 8A (1) of the Emergency Regulation in 1952.

He was sentenced to death for the first count and seven years imprisonment with hard labor for the second count.

According to the court papers of the lawyer who represented Kimathi, Ralph Millner -- now deceased—the United Kingdom Government had declined to reveal where they had buried the liberation hero.

According to a prison warder who served at the prison between 1952 and 1957, the colonialists thought Kimathi could come back to life.

Samuel Toroitich told Daily Nation in a 2014 interview that the prison commissioner at that time ordered 16 warders to dig where Kimathi was buried with handcuffs on his hands.

“Colonialists could not believe that the former freedom fighter was actually dead and we were ordered to man the graveside for three months as they feared that he might come back to life,” he said.