Njonjo Kihuria @PeopleDailyKe
The Mau Mau movement that was formed to press for independence and the recovery of land appropriated from indigenous Kenyans by colonialists was proscribed in 1952 to stem its violent struggle.
It would remain a banned organisation up to independence in 1963 and the ban was never formally lifted for 40 years throughout the regimes of Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi. During the rule of Mwai Kibaki, the third president of Kenya, the freedom fighters were officially recognised and their organisation unbanned.
However, even after that, most of the surviving freedom fighters had nothing much to write home about and because only a few would be invited to national fetes but since President Uhuru Kenyatta met their leaders at State House and gave them audience last year, they are now at the centre of the fetes.
Following the recognition by the government in 2003, the Mau Mau War Veterans Association (MMWVA) moved to a British court in 2009 and sued the British government for atrocities suffered by freedom fighters in the 1950s.
Part of the evidence of the torture the Mau Mau underwent in the hands of the colonialists was derived from the 2005 book by Caroline Elkins, Britain’s Gulag, that narrated untold atrocities committed against the fighters.
The first big break for the movement came when, at the conclusion of that suit, the British government in June 2013 publicly apologised for the atrocities and announced a Sh2.6 billion compensation package for more than 5,000 victims of the torture.
At that time, the MMWVA secretary general, Shujaa Gitu Kahengeri, while appreciating the gesture, noted that not all victims of the colonial rule were compensated and neither was the compensation adequate.
“We must now look unto the government of Kenya for compensation of all those who fought for independence . We will maintain pressure to ensure that the government acts on the public petition we submitted to the National Assembly in February 2,000, detailing our struggle and what should be requisite reparation,” said Kahengeri.
Fortunately, for Kahengeri and his fellow freedom fighters, President Uhuru has given them an ear and hopefully he will be the leader who will bring a closure to their struggle. “We have a lot of confidence in him, seeing that he is the first president to give us audience as the Mau Mau organisation,” Kahengeri told the People Daily yesterday.
The MMWVA leader said when he called the President, he (Uhuru) gave the association an appointment only five days from their telephone conversation and at State House, they sat with him for two hours.
“He undertook to address all the issues we presented to him,” Kahengeri, a former Juja MP said. Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia while acknowledging that many of the surviving freedom fighters were wallowing in poverty said his government would enroll them for free treatment through the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) scheme.