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Mau Mau icons statues to be built near road

NATIONAL
By Ndung’u Gachane | October 20th 2021

 

A section of Mau Mau Road at Tetu In Nyeri, which is under construction. The 42KMs road is set to boost business and ease transport. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Kenya National Highways Authority (KenHa) and National Museums of Kenya will construct monuments along Mau Mau road in honour of freedom fighters. KenHa chairperson Wangai Ndirangu said the statues would be built in Kiambu, Nyandarua, Murang’a and Nyeri, where the 540km road will pass through starting January next year.

The Authority, in conjunction with county governments, Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the National Museum of Kenya (NMK) is at the planning stage of the project. The NMK is compiling a list of freedom fighters for their profiles, which will be highlighted in the monuments, together with their roles during the struggle for independence.

It means that when in Nyeri, one will be able to see the monument of Dedan Kimathi near his Tetu birthplace, while at Rwathia in Murang’a County, one of the local sons, General Kago, will be erected.

Mr Wangai said the project would be a huge boost for the Tourism industry and for preservation of historical sites. “The project will open a tourism circuit blended for historical and natural tourism circuit, as opposed to the usual wildlife tourism we are used to. It will also be a creation of businesses to our people,” Wangai said. Motorists plying the route will have a glimpse of the icons played in the fight for Kenya’s freedom from the British.

They used the road in the forest to connect with their counterparts and since they were natives, they knew the routes and the area’s geography.

The Sh27 billion road will traverse the Aberdares tea-growing belt and adjacent areas. There will also be a link road to Njabini in Nyandarua County, and to Naivasha. There will be another link road from Kimende to Mai Mahiu, according to KenHa

The road will be constructed in sections, starting with lot 1A in Kiambu County, where the road will start at Kamahindu along the Kiambu-Limuru road and goes north through Gitiha-Iria-in-Kagaa-Matimbei to Kamahindi with the entire road project measuring about 105km. “Lot 1B is still in Kiambu county and this section forms part of the larger road network along the Aberdare Forest, which is a major tea growing zones,” said Wangai.

Lot 2 of the road construction will be in Murang’a County, while Lot 3 will be in Nyeri County. The total road sections are 109km.

NMK Curator Antony Macharia said Mau Mau generals, who were labelled rebels by colonialists, like generals Ihura, Kago, Matenjagwo, Itote and Dedan Kimathi, will be profiled at the monuments. “We shall have artefacts, cultural and traditional way of life will also be reflected at the sites, as it’s an honor to name the road after the heroes. We feel that their history and roles will be included at the monuments. A monument bearing the history of Kimathi will be established at Kahigaiini in Ihururu, where he hailed from,” Maina said.

The number of Mau Mau and other rebels killed was 11,000, including 1,090 convicts hanged by the British. Only 32 white settlers were killed in the eight years of emergency.

However, unofficial figures suggest a much larger number were killed in the counter-insurgency campaign.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission has said 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed during the crackdown, and 160,000 were detained in appalling conditions.

David Anderson, professor of African Politics at Oxford University, said he estimates the death toll in the conflict to have been as high as 25,000.

He said: “Everything that could happen did happen. Allegations about beatings and violence were widespread. Basically, one could get away with murder. It was systematic.”

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