| Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi Waciuri was the head of the Mau Mau, a militant group that waged a guerrilla war against the British colonial government in Kenya. Kenya's independence from British rule is largely attributed to the spirited fight the Mau Mau put up under the leadership of Dedan Kimathi. The Mau Mau began as the Land and Freedom Army, a militant Kikuyu army out to reclaim their land that had been stripped from them by the colonialists. As its influence and membership widened, it became a major threat to the colonialists. The Mau Mau movement sprung from Central Kenya, home of the populous Kikuyu community. The movement, although heavily Kikuyu, enjoyed nationwide support as it forced the colonialists to pay attention to Kenyan demands. The Mau Mau was outlawed in 1952, amid rising tensions in the Kenya political scene. The banning also saw a massive round-up of Kenyan political leaders, including Kenya's first President, Jomo Kenyatta.
On February 18, 1957, Dedan Kimathi was executed by the colonialists at the notorious Kamiti Maximum Prison, where his remains are still believed to be buried in an unmarked grave. This has been a very contentious issue among Kenyans, and indeed other prominent African nationalists like President Nelson Mandela, who believe that Kimathi is a legendary figure and should be accorded a state burial with full rights. Such requests have fallen on deaf ears for reasons nobody can/or will ever comprehend. In fact, on President Mandela's last visit to Kenya in 1990, he almost caused a major embarrassment to President Moi's administration when he inquired about the whereabouts of Kimathi's widow. Of course this does not mean that most Kenyans are blood-thirsty fellows who endorse violence as a means of resolving issues. It's simply an admiration most of them hold towards Kimathi , a poor fellow, who mastered the courage to take up arms and fight injustices perpetrated by a seemingly undefeatable power.
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Eric Tutu Kiarie
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