The wife of the late Dedan Kimathi, Mukami Kimathi passed away on May 4 Thursday night. The 96-year-old widow was pronounced dead while receiving treatment at a hospital in Nairobi after developing breathing difficulties. Her daughter, Evelyn Kimathi Wangui, confirmed the news while speaking to the media. Evelyn also said that her mother’s last wish was that Dedan Kimathi’s body be released from Kamiti maximum prison and given a decent burial. Mukami Kimathi will be laid to rest at her home in Njabini, Nyandarua County. Her demise has left many Kenyans devastated since she was a symbol of strength and resilience in this country.
Mukami Kimathi was born in 1930. Her mother was Waseke and her mother Wang’ombe. She was the second born in a family of four. As a young girl Mukami tended her father’s goats. Since she was born during colonial times she witnessed brutality from the colonizers. Her father was also a victim of colonial brutality. He never wanted his daughter to go to school. At 14 she defied her father’s wishes and decided to join school with support from her mother. It is here that Mukami met Dedan Kimathi.
She dropped out of school four years later due to lack of fees. Few yeas later Dedan Kimathi wanted her hand in marriage but her father was against it. This was because Dedan Kimathi was among the freedom fighters. Social status was also a reason why her father was against this since Dedan Kimathi came from a poor background. After several pleas the father finally accepted their union and they did a traditional kikuyu wedding.Mukami Kimathi joined the Mau Mau movement after she got married.
In 1963 they moved to the forest since the husband had become most wanted. She organized binding oaths in order to recruit and induct resistance and fighting force members. In particular, women played a crucial role in relaying messages to the Mau Mau fighters since they could move more freely.
For the fighters in the forests, women were often spies, oath administrators, resource mobilisers and food suppliers. As a result, Mukami earned the nickname ‘the wasp’.
While there Mukami got pregnant and had to leave the forest. The husband had instructed Waiyaki Otieno, to ensure that she arrived safely. However, she didn’t arrive at her destination which was Nairobi. On the way they were arrested for not having a pass
. They were detained in Lang’ata. While inside the prison she met other Mau Mau fighters and encouraged them to continue with the Mau Mau spirit. At some point she escaped with the help of a guard called Gatiba.
She was shortly re arrested and taken to Lang’ata prison where she stayed for 8 months. Mukami was released from prison in 1957. The reason for her release was that her husband had finally been captured and executed by the colonial government. Luckily, she had managed to talk to her husband 2 hours before his execution.
Mukami played an active role during the Mau Mau struggle. Despite being labelled a terrorist group by the British, the movement inspired many colonized people worldwide and made them reconsider the viability of the Kenya Settler colony. According to President Ruto, Mukami “remains a symbol of our struggle and resilience. Her presence reminds us of our struggle for independence.”