FIELD MARSHAL MUTHONI WA KIRIMA (b. 1931;also known as Nyina wa Thonjo) was a close confidante of Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi and one of the highest ranking women in the command structure of the Mau Mau movement. Considered by many of her fellow fighters to be a master tactician and a great marksman, she inflicted immense pain on the colonial government and only left the forest right after Kenya’s Independence ceremony.
She received her nickname “Nyina wa Thonjo” (Nyina is Mother-of and Thonjo is weaver bird in Kikuyu) from Dedan Kimathi for her ability to “weave” intricate and brilliant plans on how to fight the British forces.
Field Marshal Muthoni represents the many women and mothers who made great sacrifices and suffered immensely during Kenya’s fight for freedom. Her name is truly worthy of being etched into our history books alongside the greatest of our heroes.
War and Women across Continents: Autobiographical and Biographical Experiences edited by Shirley Ardener, Fiona Armitage-Woodward, Lidia D. Sciama. Chapter 4 “Mau Mau Women” by Tabitha Kanogo. ISBN 978-1-78533-013-1
Field Marshal Muthoni-Kirima, Warrior Woman. Read PDF here.
ELIJAH MASINDE (d.1987) was the founder and prophet of Dini ya Msambwa and freedom fighter who brought the BaBukusu people together in the struggle for independence. For his outspokenness and abrasiveness, he was detained between 1948 and 1960 where found himself in Lamu and in Kapenguria. He continued to be a voice against injustice even after independence which landed him in more trouble with the government of the day.
According to historians, Dini ya Msambwa extended its influence to other areas including East Pokot through Pokot spiritual leader and freedom fighter Lukas Pkech who was killed by the British during the infamous Kolloa Affray in 1950.
African Initiated Churches played a big role in the struggle for freedom by advocating for the African way of worship and participating in the armed struggle against the colonialists. Wikipedia
Read more about Elijah Masinde
Elijah Masinde: A Biography (Makers of Kenya’s History). May 1998 by Vincent G. Simiyu
Joe Murumbi. His mother (pictured right) was the daughter of Masai Laibon Murumbi of Uasin Gishu while his father was of Goan descent.
JOE ZUZARTE MURUMBI (1911-1990) was Kenya’s first Minister for Foreign Affairs and the country’s second Vice President, an office he served for a few months between May and November 1966. He was the son of a Goan trader father and a Maasai mother who was the daughter (pictured right) of Laibon Murumbi of the then Uasin Gishu Maasai.
Born in Eldama Ravine and raised in Londiani, he was introduced to the freedom struggle by his friend and mentor Pio Gama Pinto. Described as an honest man, he was KAU’s roving diplomat instrumental in the logistical planning for independence negotiations with the British and setting up Independent Kenya’s foreign embassies.
Murumbi chose to identify more with his mother’s Masai culture over his father’s Goan roots. It is said that due to his darker skin, some in the Kenyan Goan community did not accept him fully. Although he never fully explained his abrupt departure from government and retirement, many say it was due his disillusionment with the direction that Kenya was taking at the time that had included the assassination of his close friend Pinto.
Read more about Murumbi:
Yesterday in Paradise:1950-1974 By Cyprian Fernandes (2016) ISBN: 9781504303439 (Chapter 16 – Joe Zuzarte Murumbi, Chapter 18 – Pio Gama Pinto)
A Path Not Taken – The Story of Joseph Murumbi (2016) ISBN: 978-9966-083-06-7
Pio Gama Pinto (1927-1965) was a Kenyan journalist of Indian and Goan descent, actively involved in the fight for independence. After spending four years in colonial detention, he founded the official KANU newspaper “Sauti ya KANU” in 1960. He continued his activism after independence and was sadly killed in 1965, some speculating he was assassinated for his strong socialist views while Kenya was starting to move more towards capitalism, while others thought it was due to his alleged communist activities throughout Africa. Incidentally he died only 4 days after Malcolm X was assassinated. The two were well acquainted and Malcolm X considered Pinto a great influence on his worldview. He was only 38. Wikipedia
~Makhan Singh (1913-1973) -Trade unionist and a close associate of Fred Kubai. He formed the first trade union in 1935, the Labour Trade Union of Kenya. Spent 11 years of detention in Lodwar, but despite his great contribution to Trade Unionism and sacrifice to the freedom struggle, he has not received a much of attention among historians like the other freedom fighters of his calibre have received. Read this great article on Makhan Singh at sikhfoundation.org.
Eddie Pereira (1915-1995) – Kenyan Nationalist of Goan descent who wrote over 100 newspaper articles critical of colonial rule. Was jailed under fabricated charges for his anti-colonial activities. After independence, he became a hotelier in Kisumu. Was sadly murdered in Nairobi in 1995. Before he died, Eddie wrote the following remarkable words: “…A good character is the best tombstone…Carve your name in heart, not on marble…” Read more about Eddie at goacom.com
Fitz De Souza (b.1929) – Barrister and graduate of prestigious London School of Economics, he worked tirelessly to defend those accused of Mau Mau related activities in addition to serving as an advisor during the Lancaster House Conferences that laid the framework for an independent Kenya. After independence, he went on to become Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly until 1970. Wikipedia
Good Reads on these heroes
Liberating Minds, Restoring Kenyan History: Anti-Imperialist Resistance by Progressive South Asian Kenyans 1884-1965. Mar 23, 2017 by Nazmi Durrani. Google books preview.
Yesterday in Paradise Paperback – September 15, 2016 by Cyprian Fernandes. ISBN:978-1504303439. Google books preview.
Field Marshal Musa MwariamaMusa ( 1928–1989, born M’Kiribua M’Muchiri) was one of the four main Mau Mau leaders along with Dedan Kimathi, Stanely Mathenge and Waruhiu Ihote (General China). He was in command of the Meru Region.
He died in 1989 from snake poison that he had accidentally imbibed while trying to save a friend from a snake bite. Courage in both life and death. Wikipedia Page
Intrestingly this Kenya Gazette posting of May 18th 2007 shows Musa Mwariama died on 18th September 1993 and not in 1989 as stated in Wikipedia page.
Read More about Field Marshal Mwariama
The Last Mau Mau Field Marshals: Kenya’s freedom war 1952-63 and Beyond : Their own Story. 1993. by David Njagi. ASIN: B0006F2WS2. Google books.
LUKAS PKECH (d. 1950) was a Pokot spiritual leader and one of the early heroes of Kenya’s struggle for independence. On the Afternoon of April 24th 1950, at Kolloa (Present Baringo District), Pkech and his followers made their last and courageous stand during a stand-off with the colonial authorities led by a British District Officer named Alan Stevens.
When it was all over, Pkech and 28 of his followers had been shot dead in what is today remembered as the “Kolloa Affray”, “Kolloa Rising” or the “Kolloa Massacre”. District Officer Stevens and 3 other police officers were also killed during the confrontation.
Pkech had earlier escaped from prison In July 1949 where he had been serving a 30 month prison term for belonging to an illegal movement (Dini Ya Msambwa). Dini ya Msambwa whose leader was Elijah Masinde had been declared illegal in February 1948.
The Kolloa Affray was certainly a prelude to the bloodletting that occurred in Kenya’s fight for independence between 1950 and 1960.
Read more about Lukas Pkech:
- Elijah Masinde: A Biography (Makers of Kenya’s History). May 1998 by Vincent G. Simiyu
- Mau Mau & Nationhood: Arms, Authority & Narration. edited by E. S. Atieno Odhiambo, John Lonsdale. 2003. ISBN-13: 978-0821414842
- A History of the Quaker Movement in Africa. by Ane Marie Bak Rasmussen.1995.
- THE KOLLOA AFFRAY, KENYA, 1950 District Officer Alan Stevens, Colonial Service. http://www.britainssmallwars.co.uk/the-kolloa-affray-kenya-1950.html