Family in dilemma over Mau Mau freedom fighter's wish on burial
By Lydiah Nyawira and Job Weru | August 15th 2016
A Mau Mau freedom fighter had demanded that his body be buried within a week after death.
And after Mwangi Waichigo Njuguna breathed his last on August 9, his family is in a catch-22 situation.
His only son John Njuguna is admitted in a private clinic in Nairobi undergoing treatment for stomach cancer. The hospital bill is now Sh400,000.
John Njuguna’s children David Mwoi and Hellen Waceke said their father had demanded that his father should not be buried until he is released from hospital.
However, the late freedom fighter had left strict instructions that his body must not be in the morgue for more than a week.
“We do not know what to do. We have less than a few days to meet the demand of both our father and our grandfather,” Waceke noted.
During his life as a freedom fighter, Waichigo alias ‘Daudi Keru’ had vowed never to shave his hair, which he believed was proof of his role in the struggle for the country’s independence.
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Even at 92 years, Waichigo still maintained shoulder-length greying locks.
Njuguna, who was born in Githimu village in Murang’a County, started growing his hair before the emergency period.
On October 20, 2015, he explained his defiant stance to The Standard.
“I still had long hair before the emergency period. I remember my father asking me to cut my hair but I blatantly refused, at which point he sent me away from home for my defiance,” a frail Njuguna explained.
He risked his life to provide food and supplies to the Mau Mau fighters and was imprisoned several times for his role in supporting the independence struggle.
Njuguna explained how, in 1952, when he was living in Embu, he was imprisoned for donning the characteristic Mau Mau dreadlocks and sent to Manyani Prison for one year.
“I vowed never to cut my hair and despite all intimidation tactics of the White settlers, I kept my hair intact because I believed in the struggle,” Njuguna noted.
The father of four remembered how proud he was when Mau Mau finally left the forest in 1963 when the war against the White settlers had been won.
In a past interview, his son recounted that when he was only 10 years old, he often witnessed visits by Mau Mau fighters to their home where they would slaughter a goat and prepared a meal.
“The fighters used to come to our home for food and my father would help them. I used to be the lookout for them and if I saw any home guards approaching, I would alert them so they would escape,” Njuguna narrated.
He lauded his father’s bravery and explained he too became courageous enough to stand up to the oppressors when he got a chance.
Waichigo’s grand son Mwoi explained that even in death, he demanded that his locks remain intact and he be buried with a box containing six teeth he has lost over the years.
“As an old man, it was very tiring to maintain his hair. We understand that he made a vow to himself and this country and we want to honour his request,” Waceke said.
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