Uhuru pays father's debt to dancers 42 years later

President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) with members of Nyakinyua Dancers and other groups, mainly women, who fought for independence after issuing them with titles deeds in Nakuru. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

It was an emotional day yesterday for a group of people who received title deeds after a 42-year wait.

Among beneficiaries of the 2,300 titles issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nakuru were Nyakinyua Dancers, famed for entertaining Kenya’s founding father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

While issuing the title deeds, Uhuru disclosed that his mother, Mama Ngina Kenyatta, has been making countless calls to him over the plight of Nyakinyua Dancers.

“There is one woman of your age who has always been on my neck reminding me of you Nyakinyua. I know you know whom I'm referring to. Those of you who speak to her, tell her the promise has been fulfilled. I am sure that the debt is now repaid,” said Uhuru in reference to his mother.

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Uhuru disclosed that the title deeds were processed more than four months ago but he insisted that he would be the one to personally hand them over to the beneficiaries.

He, however, apologised on behalf of previous governments that were not able to fulfill the promise despite them being allocated various parcels within the county.

“Nyakinyua Dancers were a favourite group to my father. I am glad to be here to fulfill a promise that was made over 40 years ago. It is a special day for me. Forgive the governments that came before me. Better late than never,” he said.

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The Head of State expressed his gratitude to the freedom fighters, saying that his administration would ensure legal documents for their parcels are processed unconditionally.

Governor Lee Kinyanjui said that the main challenge that has been facing the beneficiaries were the high charges imposed on them as interest on the money they were supposed to pay.

Accrued interest

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“Each of the members was to pay Sh4,800 in the 1970s but they were unable to raise the money. The amount has accrued interests as high as Sh70,000 for each. I appeal that the government waives the balance,” said Kinyanjui.

Uhuru directed Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya to oversee the processing of the remaining title deeds without any surcharge on them.

“Giving a title deed with such a high debt will be of no use. I expect the remaining 40,000 title deeds to be released to the people without any financial condition within the next two weeks. I will be back to confirm and issue them personally,” he said.

He said that the government intends to issue at least 200,000 title deeds to Nakuru residents with 68,000 already processed. At least 13,000 were issued last year by Kinyanjui in Gilgil and Naivasha.

Among the beneficiaries were Muthoni Ngure, 106, who could not hide her joy as the president handed her the title deed.

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“I never lost hope that I would come face to face with Uhuru, son of Jomo who gave us land more than four decades ago. I am short of words to appreciate his government. I thank God for giving me many years to live to see this day,” said Muthoni in a side interview.

Monica Wairimu, an octogenarian from the Piave Women Dancers, said Uhuru’s ascension to power gave her hope that she would legally-own the land she was given by the first president.

“When you rose to power we saw an opportunity for what your father intended for us to come true. You have not disappointed us. We have suffered moving from one office to the other without success,” Wairimu told Uhuru.

Mary Muthoni, 82, recalled her seven years of singing to Mzee Kenyatta at the Nakuru State House and were paid back with four acres each in Piave, Njoro.

“For seven years, the District Commissioner used to send a vehicle to pick us from our homes for entertainment session at the State House. A week before his death he paid us a visit and allocated us land in Piave. It has been a hustle to legally own the land,” she said.

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She further explained that many leaders have been making false promises to them, taking them through tedious processes for their own political benefit.

At the same time, Kinyanjui urged the government to lift the caveat imposed on land within Kuresoi South, which has hindered development in the area.

“The caveat affected parcels of land some of which do not fall under the Mau Forest catchment area,” he said. 

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President Uhuru KenyattaGovernor Lee Kinyanjui