Kirinyaga County has made efforts to recognise former Mau Mau freedom fighters.
As the surviving independence war veterans enter their sunset years in poverty, the county has recognised a number of them through cash tokens and naming certain facilities in their honour.
General Kassam Njogu lost his right leg in 1953 while fighting for Kenya’s independence and walked on crutches until his death on August 20, 2011.
Like countless other Mau Mau veterans, Njogu died a pauper.
The county renamed Kianyaga Stadium and now it is the General Kassam Njogu Stadium.
”The only thing we can remember him by is to name the stadium in his honour,” declared Governor Joseph Ndathi during the 1023 Mashujaa Day celebrations.
During another Mashujaa Day celebration, the governor honoured seven men and three women for their roles in the freedom struggle.
Other than medals of honour, Ndathi also gave the freedom fighters a Sh10,000 token each – a drop in the ocean in an area filled with independence war heroes and heroines.
”I know there are still some ex-freedom fighters out there, but due to financial constraints, they will be considered next time,” said Governor Ndathi.
He has been lobbying the National Government to devolve the cash transfer fund for the elderly to the counties, where most Mau Mau veterans live, saying the present arrangement is slow and bureaucratic.
Speaking during the funeral of former freedom fighter General Matene, Ndathi said all surviving Mau Mau fighters ought to automatically qualify to be beneficiaries of the fund.
“Since there are very few former Mau Mau freedom fighters left, it would be easier to identify them at the county level since this is where they are known,” he said.
Ndathi said the amount of money given to beneficiaries should also be increased from Sh2,000 to Sh3,000 a month because of inflation.
The governor accepted a request by Mau Mau war veterans that Kerugoya Stadium be named in honour of Matene.
“Your proposal will be sent to the county assembly for debate. We shall definitely accord the deceased a hero’s status,” he said.
According to General Kiambati, General Matene was first to arrive at the Nyagithuci battle field in Mt Kenya forest, where freedom fighters killed scores of colonial army officers.