There is injustice and then there is brutal cruelty that our government often commits against Kenyans but what is happening to Mukami Kimathi is a complete disgrace to our country. It is time for Kenyan patriots and all our citizens to say very loudly that they will not accept this inhumane treatment of one of the most important human beings in our country and that is who Mukami is.
Following the media reports about Mukami’s case just makes it more annoying and gets you to understand what kind of a sick country we live in today. Without the relentless efforts of Kenyans like Dedan Kimathi, Mukami herself, and many others who took arms to launch the Kenya Land and Freedom Army (Mau Mau) war to kick out British colonial rulers, Kenya had no chance of getting national independence.
Kenya can’t even find the body of Kimathi and the British are not interested. Maybe we can forgive that but putting his wife a national Mau Mau heroine and fighter herself through hell for more than 60 years to a point where she is detained in a hospital because she has no money to cover her medical costs is just sickening. It is unacceptable and this has to be fixed right now.
Mukami Kimathi should have full government health coverage immediately and all the bills paid. Her health problems will not end when she leaves the hospital. The Kenya government needs to give her full coverage to deal with the aftermath of her hospitalization and other health needs. Let us start from there as ground zero for our good friend, grandmother, mother, and a blessing to Kenyans.
If there is any person in Kenya who deserves and should have full health insurance coverage, Mukami is that person.
The fact that our government doesn’t give a damn about her health when she is 101 years old tells you what our government has done to Mau Mau fighters and veterans who survived the war and their families who live in very difficult conditions in Kenya today.
It is so harsh and annoying to any Kenyan and that is why the government is better off with you never knowing about that unending battle against Mau Mau veterans and their families. They don’t exist as far as our governments since independence are concerned.
Kenya provides free health to all our thieving millionaire and billionaire politicians and their families and they all talk about how great Dedan Kimathi and his co-fighters were for the country but taking care of them even in something as basic as health does not bother our government one bit. Here is what we know so far.
Kimathi, the widow of Kenya’s freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi, has asked Kenyans of goodwill to contribute and help her offset a Sh1 million hospital bill.
Mukami, 101, was admitted to a city hospital in Nairobi on January 5, 2023, with pneumonia symptoms and was treated and discharged on January 12.
The family said Mukami has not been allowed to leave the facility until her bill is cleared.
Her daughter, Miriam, said that the family is unable to clear the bill with efforts to reach out to President William Ruto’s office and that of his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua for assistance proving futile.
“No assistance was provided. Instead, we were directed to our local Member of Parliament [Embakasi Central MP Benjamin Gathiru aka Major Donk], who continued to take us in rounds,” she explained.
“We are calling out on Kenyans of goodwill to come to our aid. We are helpless as we cannot afford the medical bill,” she added.
Embakasi Central MP Benjamin Gathiru aka Major Donk acknowledged the family’s contact and promised to act quickly to get Mukami’s bills paid.
“I am keenly following up on the matter and soon we will sort it out. I’ll consult with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua to see how we can get the bill paid,” he said.
The way the government is going about the problem the family faces with the old family member stuck in the hospital is just appalling.
The family members contacted the office of President Ruto and the DP Gachagua and they were told to contact their local M.P. Right now they are still scrambling to pay the bill. Where is Mike Sonko when you need him? Can he go clear the bill for Mukami please and let the politicians keep busy with their stuff?
The real nightmare here is not just the bill but the whole issue of health coverage. In any country in the world, people who fight for and liberate their countries from tyranny do not just have full health coverage, they have guaranteed income known as pensions. In the US for example if any government neglects veteran soldiers and their families they would be roasted by the public in no time.
Mau Mau soldiers and their families are our number one veterans as a country because without them we don’t have a country called Kenya. Why are they treated like dirt by the independent Kenya government? Are we still working for the British colonizers to terrorize these great patriots of our republic?
It is completely unacceptable that someone like Mukami Kimathi and many others in her position have to beg for their health bills to be covered never mind the food they eat and the homes they live in which our government has never done anything about.
Freedom fighters like Mukami Kimathi and many others have been literally buried out of sight from Kenyans and were suffering in ignominy all by themselves. It took the humanity and selflessness of Nelson Mandela when he visited Kenya in 1990 to unbury Mukami and let Kenyans know that she was still alive.
Mandela publicly asked President Moi in a welcoming rally for him in Kenya where the wife of Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi was and if he could meet and see her. Nobody in government including the president had any clue and in fact, most of them did not even know if there was a person like that in Kenya.
How did this happen? Mukami Kimathi would have faded into obscurity if Nelson Mandela had not come to Kenya in 1990 and asked for her. She did not get to meet him then. This prompted human rights activists Kang’ethe Mungai, Beatrice Kamau, Khamisi Ramadhan, and Mbugua Mureithi of Release Political Prisoners to seek her out through her daughter, Evelyn Wanjiku.
They and others highlighted her neglect by the government. Soon, they had begun a tradition of celebrating “Kimathi Day” by planting trees at Kahiga-ini every February 18 to commemorate the day Kimathi was shot. The police would lob tear gas at them and Mukami would later regale me with stories of how fast she used to run.
Here are some insights on Mukami Kimathi from an excellent book: Mukami Kimathi: Mau Mau Woman Freedom Fighter by Wairimu Nderitu:
‘‘When I eventually began to write, Mukami rallied Nancy Nyokabi Waciuri, wife of her late son Waciuri Kimathi, her grandson Dedan Kimathi Waciuri, and the Kimathi children; Nyambura, Waceke, Maina, Nyakinyua, Wangechi, Wangui, Muthoni, Nyawira and Wanjugu to enrich the narrative through personal accounts.
My own family stepped in too, with my father and mother reading through my scripts, and my brothers reminding Mukami of the stories she had told us when we were young. My sister Wanjiru Nyingi transcribed the interviews.
I soon encountered a problem. Mukami never talked of the details of the war because she was still bound by the oaths she had taken. For years, I could not find any historian who had written on Mukami.
It was not until I found a book by Maina wa Kinyatti, History of Resistance in Kenya, 1884-2002, that I was able to phrase questions in a way that she could answer without violating her oath. In addition, I also did a lot of background research to give the story a factual and historical context.
Mukami wanted a book that would bring people together; a book that would give hope to future generations. She often says: “The war was fought between the white and black people and between the blacks who fought for freedom and those who fought alongside the white man. That was in the past. Now they must live together.”
She wanted me to remind Kenyans to take care of the country the Mau Mau fought for. Her lowest point was the 2007-2008 post-election violence and often said: “Because we fought the colonialists, Kenyans now have arrow roots, sweet potatoes, bananas and yam on the table. But instead of eating, they are fighting! I wish this generation of Kenyans from all ethnic communities would rally as we did and this time emerge with, instead of independence like we did, national unity!
In her story, Mukami shows us who Dedan Kimathi was as a father and husband. Her experiences provide an important complement to existing written records on Kenya’s history.
Mukami Kimathi’s prophesy that I would write her karugan is now a reality. The book, Mukami Kimathi: Mau Mau Freedom Fighter, was launched at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi last evening. She was also proved right on another front; my sister Consolata Wakonyo became a pilot.”
I quote the works of the writer Wairimu Nderitu to ask for two things from my fellow Kenyans. Please go buy the book and read it. It is a great piece of work and a historic document for our country.
Two, the fight for Mukami Kimathi’s rights as citizens who gave everything for our country is as important today as it was in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Nothing has changed. When our governments spit on historical fighters for our basic freedoms and rights they spit on all of us as Kenyans.
We cannot accept that as a country and more importantly as a people of our beloved country. The fight for our freedom as a country in the 1950s and 1960s is very much linked to our fights today for a country that takes care of its citizens and not just special interests holding power at any one time.
Let us also remember that the opportunistic politicians starting with DP Gachagua will go to the hospital for show and take media pictures paying the bill to let Mukami leave the hospital but the wouldn’t care what happens after that. Why wait until she is stuck in hospital again? Give her health insurance which covers all her health needs at least.
Exactly what I thought. Politicians playing this for theatre and pictures without a single thought as to what happens to Mukami after she goes home and needs healthcare services.
“H.E President William Ruto has cleared the Hospital Bill. Thank you, President William Ruto, for coming through for Mukami Kimathi and her family. You are a true and genuine friend of our people. Be blessed abundantly. Always,”
The politicians want to spray wash the nightmare Mau Mau veterans are facing just to stay alive after 60 years of independence.
As Kenyans, we have to demand real and lasting solutions to respect and address the needs of the people who fought for our country under extremely hard conditions. Kenya as a country owes this great soldier Mukami Kimathi more than just paying her hospital bills for now.
Keep fighting for your life Mukami. Kenyans are with you all the way. You are going to do just great.
Adongo Ogony is a Kenyan Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada