Veterans and families turn up to witness the unveiling of memorial

Saturday September 12 2015

One of the  nearly 500 elderly men and women on September 12, 2015 who thronged the Freedom Corner at Uhuru Park in Nairobi to witness the unveiling of a Mau Mau memorial. PHOTO | RAPHAEL NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

One of the nearly 500 elderly men and women on September 12, 2015 who thronged the Freedom Corner at Uhuru Park in Nairobi to witness the unveiling of a Mau Mau memorial. PHOTO | RAPHAEL NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By EUNICE KILONZO
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Nearly 500 elderly men and women on Saturday thronged the Freedom Corner at Uhuru Park in Nairobi to witness the unveiling of a Mau Mau memorial.

The senior citizens, wearing red T-shirts with the inscription Shujaa wa Mau Mau, turned up, some as early as dawn, for the 11 am event that would see the unveiling of the memorial for the thousands of Mau Mau fighters who were tortured and abused during the British colonial rule between 1952 and 1960.

The monument is made of marble and a bronze structure in the middle. It has granite stone plaques at the entrance with a brief history of the Mau Mau movement and the State of Emergency. The message is also in braille.

Inside is a sculpture depicting a woman in a headscarf handing over a basket to a freedom fighter with an AK-47 on his side with their faces turned away.

The plaque explains that this was part of the rules to ensure that they would never reveal each other’s names in case they were arrested.

Exiting from the sculpture through a ramp leads you to the commemoration tree, planted by the Mau Mau veterans.

The memorial is part of a 2013 out-of-court agreement between the British Government and five claimants represented by the veterans association.

A short distance from the memorial, the park was peppered with the elderly carrying placards denoting where they were from.

Mau Mau War Veterans Association secretary- general Gitu wa Kahengeri said Mau Mau veterans from across the country had come to witness the historic moment.

“Mau Mau was a nationwide outfit. We were scattered across the country to fight for Kenya’s independence. And today these people, who were thought of as terrorists, are now heroes,” he said.

The memorial was unveiled by Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi on behalf of Chief Justice Willy Mutunga alongside the British High Commissioner Christian Turner, Culture Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario and AG Githu Muigai.

Others included Opposition leader Raila Odinga, Kenya Human Rights Commission board chair Makau Mutua, senators Amos Wako and James Orengo.

Dr Turner said the memorial is a symbol of reconciliation between the UK, the Mau Mau and all those who suffered during the emergency period.