Field-Marshal Muthoni wa Kirima is dead


Field Marshal Muthoni wa Kirima at her home in Nyeri. [James Mwangi]

Field-Marshal Muthoni wa Kirima is dead aged 91.

Muthoni the only woman to have been bestowed with the rank during the Mau mau uprising, died on Tuesday morning at around 3am.

Her grandson Samuel Kariuki said the late was pronounced dead after being rushed to Radiant Hospital in Pangani, Nairobi.

 "We are saddened, we accept that our grandmother has left us and that she is no more!  We spoke yesterday and she was okay. She has never been unwell, she has never bee taken ill, neither has she ever been admitted in hospital. All she kept saying was that an issue with her hand because while in the forest, she had been shot and again fell and hurt her arm," Kariuki said.

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga mourned the late saying, "I cannot fathom or believe that at 3.01am, I'm still up because like they say in my community, a Mugumo tree has fallen”.

The governor on his social media pages said he regrets to announce to the world that it has lost to death one of our most prominent Mau mau heroes, the Field Marshall Muthoni Kirima.

Her body body has been moved to Lee Funeral Home.

Wa Kirima was recently featured in the news when she shaved her dreadlocks that represented her connection to Kenya’s freedom and her rejection of colonisation.

She said the signature dreadlocks that flowed past her waist were a valuable reminder of her sacrifice for the country even after Kenya gained independence in 1963.

The locks that she has had since 1952 were shaved on Saturday by founding father Jomo Kenyatta’s wife Mama Ngina as per Ms Muthoni’s wishes.

Field Marshal Muthoni Wa Kirima after she shaved her colonial dreadlocks seated with former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta. [Courtesy John Muchcha]

Muthoni wa Kirima was born in Central Province in 1931. Being born in the colonial era meant Muthoni, as a young girl, saw the injustices committed against native Africans by the colonialists.

Having never had a formal education and with parents who worked in a European farm, Muthoni nursed the dream of Kenya becoming independent one day.

Muthoni, aged about 20, became a spy for the Mau Mau  fighters who had camped in the forest in 1952. During the war, many women were used as spies by the fighters or supplied food to them.

For Muthoni, spying and bringing food was not enough, she wanted to fight. She wanted to be right where the action was. Muthoni convinced Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi to allow her into the forest as a fighter. Muthoni proved a gallant soldier.

Fighting next to Dedan Kimathi and proving herself to be a valuable soldier, Muthoni was promoted to field marshal and became the only woman to have ever reached that status.