Mau Mau veterans decry languishing in poverty

Mau Mau Veterans Association (Meru) Secretary General Simon Ntoruru (left) and Chairman Cyprian Mutiga inside the Sh12 million Mwariama Cultural Centre building near Muriri in Tigania, Meru County. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

Cyprian Mutiga, 87, fought hard against colonial forces from Mau Mau's base in Nyambene hills, Meru.

Mutiga and other freedom war veterans are now languishing in poverty.

While others are in settlements in Buuri Sub County, Mutiga is among a group of others in Nyambene area suffering vagaries of age, neglect and harsh climate that has made agriculture difficult.

They live in dilapidated structures and in poor health, they are crying for help.

They waged a lengthy war against the British colonialists from their Nyambene hills forests and other areas in Mount Kenya but for their effort, they were thrown into poverty after the end of the struggle.

Mutiga lost a big number of friends in the freedom struggle and when the guns went silent and Kenya gained self-governance, he was a relieved man.

Mutiga is among a group of 1, 600 war veterans who cry neglect and are loudly cursing the government, especially the national government.

"There are Mau Mau heroes in Meru hidden away in small compounds, just like us. They sacrificed so much but feel that some fighters from other regions were lucky to get something from the government in return," he said.

Simon Ntoruru, the Chairman of Mau Mau War Veterans Association in Meru, said the state of the old men and women is pathetic because many do not have access to proper food, clothes, shelter and health care.

"We have 1, 600 Mau Mau remnants in Tigania. There are 800 in Isiolo. More are in Igembe, Imenti and Tharaka Nithi regions.

They wallow in abject poverty, hidden away from the limelight.

Those who fought for the freedom we are enjoying today are dying one by one, and soon all of us will be no more," Ntoruru said.

The county government built for them the Mwariama Cultural Centre-cum conference centre.

The facility which has a hotel was meant to earn them income for upkeep.

Ntoruru said they have 17 self-contained rooms but they do not have furniture to start operations at the facility which cost over Sh10 million to construct.

"Once we start, we will be able to offer accommodation services, and visitors will also learn at the cultural centre. The government should intervene," he said.