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I have never received a reward or stipend for the elderly, says widow of Mau Mau veteran

By WAINAINA NDUNG'U | October 18th 2014

Field Marshal Muthoni Kirima, 84, is reluctant to speak about any recommendations on the welfare of Mau Mau widows, veterans or their dependants.

She has a simple reason: “We have always spoken about those things, but we have never seen any effect. So why should we speak about it now?” asks Kirima.

She says it is upon the government to decide what token of appreciation the veterans deserve in the twilight of their lives and their dependants.

Kirima was only 22 when she and late Maj General Kingora Wamatungi, joined the liberation forces in the Aberdare Forest.

The freedom fighter, who now lives in Nyeri had joined the Mau Mau before her husband and served as a spy who would relay information to the late Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi at night when he called at their home near the town.

“One morning, I was surprised to hear my husband hum the signature Mau Mau conscription song and when I asked him, he told me he would be joining Kimathi that day if he knew where he would be,” she said. “That evening, I organised a meeting between the two.”

Treated with tokenism

Kirima is angry that successive governments have ignored the plight of the veterans, and says as a widow, she has not received any land or financial reward nor the stipend for the elderly.

“I won’t care much because God has always blessed me with abundant resources. When they declined to give us free land, I was able to purchase mine through a land buying co-operative society,” she adds.

The freedom fighter and her husband who died in 2009, are believed to have been the last three soldiers to leave the forest on December 16, 1963 – four days after independence on December 12, 1963.

She lamented that freedom fighters are treated with tokenism even the rare times they are allowed to attend national celebrations.

“There is no greater demonstration of this tokenism than what happened when a memorial was unveiled at Karuna-ini - the site of Kimathi’s capture – the freedom heroes were kept at the periphery,” she says.

Kirima also claims the same happened when a stature of Kimathi was unveiled at Kimathi Street in Nairobi, and when the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (Dekut) was launched in 2012.

“It was painful that only the widow (Mukami Kimathi) was recognised at Dekut, while other veterans were not even mentioned during the fete,” she adds.

She notes that Mau Mau veterans who made it in life, were basically self made businessmen and professionals, but pays tribute to late President Jomo Kenyatta for giving her a game trade licence, enabling her to dispose stocks of elephant tusks that the Mau Mau had collected during the struggle in the Mt Kenya and Aberdare forests.

But she says life has not been easy after she abandoned beer distribution business in Tana River because her body could not withstand the hot coastal weather.

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