War veterans see nothing to show for struggle
By Francis Ngige
Just as they converged at the historic Ruring’u Stadium to celebrate the attainment of independence, freedom fighters thronged Dedan Kimathi grounds to celebrate the First Mashujaa Day.
The Mau Mau war veterans, some confined to wheelchairs and others at the mercy of crutches, did not have much to celebrate.
The Mashujaa Day celebrations in Nyeri were held just a stone throw away from Ruring’u Stadium, where the Mau Mau combatants gathered after emerging from the forest.
One of the unsung heroes of the struggle General Chui Ngatia summed up his frustrations on Wednesday: “We fought for independence and land. We got freedom, but did the mzungu (white man) go away with our land?”
Although they were happy with the renaming of Kenyatta Day, the elderly men and women could not hide their disappointment for being neglected by successive governments.
Hundreds of them arrived for the celebrations to register gratitude for the change of the identity of the great day.
As they settled to watch the festivities, the Mau Mau insurgents had one message to Central PC Kiplimo Rugut, who presided over the ceremony: “We are still demanding our land from the Government.”
“We appreciate that we are being regarded as heroes, but one thing we want to tell the Government is that we are still waiting for our land,” Captain Nderitu Wambugu thundered when he was given a chance to address the gathering.
Wambugu said although they had played their part as patriots, it was sad that some of them were still living in concentration camps known as the colonial villages.
“We shed a lot of blood to liberate this country, but we do not want to spill more as we have freedom. The Government should, however, remember those who are without land,” said Wambugu. General Chui echoed Wambugu’s sentiments: “We have no reason to celebrate, since we left our land intact when we went to the forest. But what happened when the struggle was over? The home guards had the last laugh.”
General Chui said some of them were in their sunset years but were yet to see the fruits of their labour.
The PC thanked the freedom fighters for turning up in large numbers to celebrate the Heroes Day.
Rugut said Kenyans were grateful to the freedom fighters for the sacrifices they made in the struggle for independence.
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