When President Uhuru Kenyatta made a historic address to Nakuru County Assembly on August 14, surviving members of Kiambogo Nyakinyua dance troupe were holding a prayer meeting under a tree at Elementaita Ward.
The women had a photocopy of the Daily Nation of October 14, 1976.
The copy of the Daily Nation that cost Sh1 then, might save them the agony of waiting for title deeds for the land that they were given by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta 43 years ago.
The women handed President Kenyatta the copy of the newspaper through their MCA Moses Ndung’u Kamau to help them get title deeds.
And while other leaders seized the opportunity to put before the Head of State a list of issues they wanted him to address, Mr Ndung’u took President Kenyatta down memory lane.
“Mr President these Nyakinyua dancers from Elementaita Ward used to entertain your father. They have been waiting for title deeds of the land given to them by founding father of the nation Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. This is a copy of the Daily Nation to prove that indeed they were given the land by Mzee Kenyatta,” said Mr Ndung’u.
Mzee Kenyatta died in 1978.
The frail women, most of them ailing, cannot read the headline: ‘Mzee settles 1,500 families’
But what excites them most despite their fast fading eye sights is a front page photo of Mzee Kenyatta handing them 15, 600 acres Kiambogo farm some 30km away from Nakuru Town.
When this newspaper was published, President Uhuru Kenyatta was barely 15-years-old.
The dance troupe meet every Wednesday dressed in full traditional regalia they wore as they entertained Mzee Kenyatta at State House Nakuru and at his Gatundu home.
Every wrinkle on their faces tell a story of their struggle for survival and hope. Decades of history is hidden in their memories when they speak.
Despite their weak eye sights, they peruse the paper as if reading it every time they meet.
They then put the treasured copy of Daily Nation into a brown envelop and keep it safe as it is the only available document to prove land ownership.
“The copy of the Daily Nation acts as the mother title of our land that we were given by Mzee Kenyatta, we have nothing else to prove we own this land,” said Ms Wanjiku Kamau, 100.
She added: “We plead with President Kenyatta to help us get the title deeds of the land which we have been waiting for 43 years.”
“It is our prayer that President Kenyatta will ensure we get land documents before we die,” added Ms Kamau who was born in 1919.
Many of the Kiambogo Nyakinyua dance troupe members have since died.
The surviving members are optimistic that President Kenyatta will fulfil the promise of his father upon receiving their petition.
Ms Muthoni Ngure, 103, said Mzee Kenyatta told them the government had bought the land from a white settler at Sh6 million and what they were required to pay was Sh625 survey fees.
“We paid the Sh625 survey fees but we have been slapped with a notice to pay Settlement Trust Fund arrears of between Sh100,000 and Sh300,000 which we want President Kenyatta to waive as we cannot pay,” said Ms Ngure.
When handing over the farm on October 13, 1976, Mzee Kenyatta told them it had 3,558 head of cattle, 2,102 sheep, seven tractors, two ploughs and three harrows.
“Unfortunately all these properties were stolen and our fear is that the same grabbers might come and sell our land,” said Ms Ngure.
“We want these title deeds so that our children can have a secure future long after we are gone,” said Ms Hellen Wanjiru, 71.
Ms Naomi Ndirangu, 78, who is the chairperson of the group said they cannot burry their kin on the land as some people claim to own part of it.
“We cannot burry our dead because of land ownership disputes,” said Ms Ndirangu.
“Our prayer to President Kenyatta is to help us get title deeds before his term of office ends.”
Ms Wambui Kihumbu, 97, said when Mzee Kenyatta told them to plant cash crops such as pyrethrum on the farm.
“Mzee told us the land is not a place to rest or a holiday camp, but to work hard by cultivating and looking after livestock on the farm,” Ms Kihumbu.