For Mukami Kimathi, there has been no better moment than witnessing a colourful ceremony of an institution of higher learning named after her late husband and fallen freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi.
Fifty years ago, Mrs Kimathi would have been running from the authorities, hunted and hounded by colonialists who finally killed her husband for fighting for independence.
But last Friday, it was another story when she dined with President Kibaki and other top government officials in Nyeri after presiding over the awarding of a charter to the new Dedan Kimathi University of Technology.
It was also the day the President promised that the government would make a vehicle available for the use of the octogenarian former freedom fighter.
There was a red carpet reception for Mrs Kimathi and the honour of having a front-row seat along with other dignitaries on the presidential dias.
Mrs Kimathi, 82, could not hide her joy.
“I’m so happy to see and witness this college given the name of my late husband as well as become a full-fledged university,” she said when the President invited her to the presidential lectern to address the gathering.
Speaking in Kikuyu, the mother of 10 praised President Kibaki’s development record, saying it would be remembered for a long time.
“The President has done a lot, including giving our children free education and constructing roads,” she said.
“Do you want the next president to be like him?” she asked the crowd, which applauded in response.
In an interview with the Sunday Nation later, Mrs Kimathi said the government had never honoured her late husband as it did on Friday.
“Apart from that, I have never dreamt that one day I would use the presidential podium to address my fellow Kenyans. This is one President I will not forget. May the good Lord award him more years of joy,” she said.
Of the President’s invitation to address the gathering of established and budding academics last Friday, Mrs Kimathi said: “This is a very rare opportunity for a person like me, and I never expected that he would call me to address the crowd, more so after I saw the two ministers had finished giving their speeches.”
Mrs Kimathi said she had asked Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka to buy her a car. The President overheard the conversation and asked Head of the Public Service Francis Kimemia to buy a car that would facilitate her movement.
Her daughter, Evelyn Wanjugu, said Mr Kibaki’s is the only administration that has ever honoured the Kimathi family in such a way. In 2009, the government also constructed a three-bedroom house for Mrs Kimathi at her farm in Kinangop, Nyandarua county.
“We had started constructing the stone house as a family way back in 2006, but due to financial difficulties, it came to a halt. Fortunately, the government came in and completed it,” Ms Wanjugu said.
The government also erected a statue of the freedom fighter on Kimathi Street in Nairobi in February 2007, and plans are underway to erect another at Kahiga-ini in Tetu, where the freedom fighter was shot and captured by colonial forces.
Mrs Kimathi is still optimistic the remains of her husband will be found and reburied in an honourable way.
“Two weeks ago, I accompanied a man who claimed he knew where Kimathi was buried at the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison; we went round checking whether we could find his grave. Although we did not find it, I am optimistic one day we will find his remains,” she said.