At the height of a crackdown on the leaders of the Mau Mau rebellion, former First Lady and mother to current President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ngina Kenyatta was picked up from her Gicheha home in Gatundu South to Kambi Ya Fisi, inside the Kamiti Maximum Prison where she joined the spouses of detained Mau Mau liberators among them Mukami Kimathi.
Speaking during the Mashujaa Day celebration on October 20, 2021, ODM leader Raila Odinga disclosed how the former First Lady played an important role during the country’s struggle for independence, something not often talked about by Kenyans.
”In celebrating, our freedom fighters were true heroes who freed our country from the power of the British military. Few people know that Mama Ngina Kenyatta was a political detainee. This region played a key role in the liberation struggle, ” the former prime minister said in Kirinyaga.
In her book Mükami Kimathi: Mau Mau Freedom Fighter, Mukami Kimathi, Dedan Kimathi’s wife explains how Mama Ngina was tasked with looking after the children of the detained prisoners inside Kambi ya Fisi in Kamiti Maximum Prison. Her roles were to feed and clean the babies, given the deplorable conditions in the prison.
”Ngina Kenyatta was put in charge of looking after all the children of prisoners working in gangs. She had more than 50 children in her care. My son was one of them, ”Mukami Kimathi writes in her book.
Mrs. Kimathi explains in her book Mukami that sometimes, they would go many days without food, forcing them to survive on soil mixed with water. Besides starvation, the women prisoners were at times called to go and bury inmates who had been hanged.
Dedan Kimathi, Mukami’s husband was the leader of Mau Mau, Kenya’s armed independence movement. He is regarded as a revolutionary leader who fought against British colonialists until his execution.
In 1952, when the British administration declared the state of emergency, Kimathi took to the forest close to Mount Kenya. He was considered the most feared among the three so-called field marshals who led the movement. As part of a unit named the Kenya Defence Council, he set about organizing armed attacks against the British colonial government.