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Government asked to expedite retrieval of Dedan Kimathi remains

The daughter of Mau Mau freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi, Wanjugu Kimathi, has asked the government to expedite the search and exhumation of her father’s remains.

Speaking in Kahiga-ini Mau Mau Memorial Park in Nyeri during the 67th commemoration of Dedan Kimathi day, Wanjugu expressed her concerns over the continued delay, saying that the number of sources who can help with the process of tracing Kimathi’s grave was dwindling by the day.

“We have noted with great concern that as we (the family) are told to wait, those people who participated in Kimathi’s burial or were working in the prison at the time or in the forest, are dying. Only a few people who can help with the search are remaining,” she said.

“I am appealing to the government and the international community to expedite the process. It is now or never. We should not wait anymore because if we wait a bit longer we might not get Kimathi at Kamiti Maximum prison,” added Wanjugu.

In September last year, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua committed to tracing and exhuming the remains of the freedom fighter.

Addressing mourners during the burial ceremony of Mau Mau war hero, Brigadier John Kago Kiboko in Nyandarua County, Gachagua pledged to lead the process by engaging sources privy to the location of Kimathi’s grave.

Brigadier Kiboko had confessed to being among the people who buried Kimathi and he had volunteered to help locate Kimathi’s grave.

“I am going to call a meeting with 10 leaders of Mau Mau, the senior ones from the 11 counties of Mount Kenya. We shall meet in Sagana and plan how they shall go to Kamiti and stay there, even if it shall take them months,” said the DP.

The late Dedan Kimathi was the senior most military commander of the Mau Mau uprising. Kimathi led the Mau Mau in fighting against British colonial rule in the 1950s before he was captured on October 21, 1956 in Kihaga-ini after he was shot in the thigh.

In their book, The Trial of Dedan Kimathi, authors Ngugi wa Thiong’o and the late Micere Githae Mugo say that following his arrest, Kimathi was charged at the Nyeri court with being in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

According to their account, Kimathi was sentenced to death by hanging by Chief Justice Kenneth Kennedy O’Connor on November 19, 1956.

Kimathi would later file an appeal at the Court for Eastern Africa, but the court dismissed his first appeal in December 1956.

His subsequent petition for a review of the sentence before the Judicial an unofficial holiday in his honour in Kenya and around the world Committee of the Privy Council in London was similarly declined by the Committee in February 14, 1957.

After the two failed appeals Dedan Kimathi was hanged to death and buried in an unmarked grave in the grounds of Kamiti Maximum Security prison on the morning of February 18, 1957.

Dedan Kimathi day is the unofficial holiday that is celebrated annually on February 18 in honour of the day Kimathi was executed.

In Nyeri the day was graced by some of the Mau Mau Freedom fighters, representatives from the British High Commission and the County Director of Tourism Mary Kimamo.

Wanjugu said the Dedan Kimathi Foundation was working with county governments, which host freedom fighters with a view to localizing the Dedan Kimathi day.

“We want to localize the Dedan Kimathi commemoration to be celebrated in all counties that host the Mau Mau veterans,” she said.

At the same time, she called on the government to take care of the welfare of the surviving liberation struggle veterans.

Wanjugu said that more should be done to ensure that the freedom fighters, who are languishing in colonial villages, are recognized for their sacrifice in liberating the country from colonialism.

By Wangari Mwangi


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