As the British King Charles III kicks off their four-day tour of Kenya, a small group of people are looking forward to sitting down with the monarch with the hope of resolving a long-running issue of compensation.
The Mau Mau veterans and their descendants are expected to meet with Charles and his wife, Queen Camilla. Some of the topics for discussion will be their demand for reparations and compensation for the atrocities of the British government.
In Nyeri County, a group of six elderly men and women from the Mau Mau Matigari Welfare Association are looking forward to a chance to share their expectations with King Charles in the hope it will lead to an effort to get compensation.
Association’s Secretary General David Mukunya is one of three officials hoping to meet King Charles.
“We are the descendants of Mau Mau fighters, and we will be accompanied by three veterans who fought in the war. Captain Nderitu from Othaya,” Mukunya said.
He is referring to Nderitu Wambugu, a former freedom fighter, who lives in Othaya, Nyeri County. He was selected to join the freedom fighters because he had a good rapport with the people.
He was thus made a messenger and spy for the Mau Mau. The Mau Mau were not allowed to drink alcohol, but he and his group were allowed one drink. They were bought suits, and it was decided that they would make good detectives of which he was the leader, thus the name captain.
When asked whether they were other prominent Mau Mau leaders, he remembered Johanna Kunyiha. Johanna was referred to as ‘muthamaki’, which means leader, and ‘mutetezi’, which means, agitator.
Mukunya’s father, Abraham Kahiato Mukunya, was an oath administrator and was in charge of the war council.
The men went into the forest but a day later, his father was dispatched to Nairobi where he was detained for eight years between 1952 and 1959.
For his part, Mukunya, was a scout for the Mau Mau used to send information on the whereabouts of the British officers and their collaborators.
“We were boys in the village not old enough to go to the forest and fight but observant and able to pass the traps set by the British colonizers, we were constantly in danger,” he said.
Association treasurer Paul Kiragu Wachira was also a scout, and his father was Kiragu Butiru, who was a mau mau soldier.
“My father Kiragu and his brother Peter Wanjigi Butiro went to the forest in 1952, unfortunately, Peter was killed in action while my father was detained from 1955 to 1958 in Mweru Detention camps known for brutally castrating the detainees,” he said.
The three men will be accompanied by Njeri wa Kariara, who was one of the few women who were in the forest fighting alongside the Mau Mau soldiers.
“Njeri was shot while in the forest, but she survived. She often still shows people her bullet wounds. Most women carried out very critical roles of supplying food to the fighters and spying,” he noted.
The delegation will also include Mau Mau war veteran Joseph Macharia Mwangi alias General Kihithuki, who fought alongside Muthoni Kirima.
He was one of the few veterans who confirmed she joined the Kenya Land and Freedom Army (KLFA), which led to the Mau Mau uprising in the Aberdare forest.
And also the Chairperson of the Matigari Association, Bishop David Mungai Kiarie.
Mukunya said the veterans had a very clear agenda, for their meeting, which could be summarised as Compensation for the landless freedom fighters and reparations for the atrocities meted out by the British government.