Saturday July 13 2019

Elizabeth Wangui Kimunya

Ms Elizabeth Kimunya during a past interview. She died on July 6, 2019 aged 76. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

STANLEY KIMUGE
By STANLEY KIMUGE
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Ms Elizabeth Kimunya, who became the face of the 2007-2008 post-election violence, was on Friday laid to rest in Kiambaa, Uasin Gishu County, in a low-key event.

No elected leader attended the burial.

After the January 1, 2008 arson attack at the Assemblies of God Church in Kiambaa, Eldoret, she became the face of the chaos. This was after a photo of her pleading for mercy, with her hands held up, and with a shoe in one hand, went viral.

DEATH

Ms Kimunya died at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital on Saturday, July 6, of what doctors described as tumours in her stomach and depression.

Mr Philip Kimunya, her son, said his mother slid into depression following the violence more than a decade ago.

“It was really challenging. I had to do menial jobs to raise money to cater for her food and other needs,” said Mr Kimunya, 27.

On that fateful day in 2008, Ms Kimunya had gone to work in order to feed her son, who was aged 16 then.

Elizabeth Kimunya

Family members during the burial of Ms Elizabeth Kimunya in Kiambaa, Uasin Gishu on July 12, 2019. Kimunya was the face of 2007-2008 post-election violence. PHOTO | STANLEY KIMUGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Mr Kimunya urged residents in the cosmopolitan Kiambaa to live in peace and avoid divisive politicians. “Don’t allow politicians to give you Sh50 to fight your neighbour. The government should also ensure that we will not go back to what we went through,” he said.

In the Kiambaa church attack, at least 28 people were burnt to death. Mr Kimunya bears scars on his hands and legs, a dark reminder of the attack.

Mr Joseph Githuku, chairman of the Kiambaa church victims, complained that despite the agony they underwent, most of them were yet to be compensated or get counselling from the government.

Ms Elizabeth Wangui Kimunya

Ms Elizabeth Kimunya wails outside the burning Assemblies of God Church in Kiambaa, Eldoret on January 1, 2008 at the height of the post violence. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“We are really sad that we lost our neighbour. She never recovered after learning that his son was in the church that day,” he said.

Mr Githuku regretted that Ms Kimunya had been buried before she was compensated.

“We have people who lost their lives, others loved ones and property. Others developed physical disabilities, but there are those who were not compensated or even counselled. We appeal to the government to visit these families and check on them,” said Mr Githuku, who lost his son and wife during the attack.

The residents also urged political leaders to tone down their political utterances to prevent raising political temperatures as that could plunge the country into ethnic violence.

Rift Valley was the hotbed of the 2007-2008 post-election violence, which left more than more than 1,133 people dead.

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