State neglects village where Mau Mau hero Dedan Kimathi fell

Field Marshall hero Dedan Kimathi’s widow, Mukami is carried by Dedan Kimathi’s High School Students to the site where her husband was shot and captured in 1956. Photo: Kibata Kihu/Standard


Field Marshall hero Dedan Kimathi’s widow, Mukami is carried by Dedan Kimathi’s High School Students to the site where her husband was shot and captured in 1956. Photo: Kibata Kihu/Standard

Barely five kilometres away from Kabiruini grounds, the venue of Thursday’s Madaraka Day celebrations, stands a forgotten monument of Kenya’s freedom struggle.

It was here that Mau Mau hero, Dedan Kimathi, was shot and captured 60 years ago.

The spot, in Karunaini – a sleepy village on the fringes of Aberdare Forest – was gazetted in 2001. Save for small bands of pilgrims who visit it every February 18, the place where the icon of Kenya’s independence struggle fell remains largely deserted and eerily quiet.

A barren patch in a tea plantation marks the point where local residents say Mr Kimathi’s blood soaked the ground after he was shot. A rickety wooden gate held together by rusty wires forms the entrance to the shrine, which is covered by bushes.

A concrete slab put up by Moses Kanyira, a resident, and painted in Kenyan flag colours, is they only indication of the area’s historical significance.

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Road abandoned

The road leading to the site has since fallen apart and been abandoned by motorists.

During this year’s ceremony to commemorate Kimathi’s death, his frail wife, Mukami Kimathi, had to be carried by students of Dedan Kimathi Memorial High School to the spot where her husband fell.

Villagers say unless something is done fast, the spot will soon be swallowed by the forest from where he waged his war against colonialism.

“If the national government does not establish the Kimathi shrine, it is unlikely to ever happen,” says Mr Kanyira.

For the remaining Mau Mau fighters, the state of neglect around the spot where their general fell is a sad reflection of how the country has treated them.

“This should be a place for remembering the Mau Mau, but there are no basic amenities, not even a toilet,” says former Mau Mau Field Marshal Muthoni wa Kirima. 

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