Kenya has had a fair share of devout female freedom fighters and activists who have helped this country attain the status it is in today.
Some writers have named them ‘mad’ Kenyan women who rattled the British and as others have been subsequently fighting the previous oppressive regimes and raising African consciousness among their tribesmen.
The Coastal region had Mekatilili wa Menza who managed to mobilize the Giriama people against the oppressive rule of the British. Mekatilili is said to have been so ruthless and fearless against the Brits that she was exiled to Western Kenya but continued her fight, when she went back to the coastal region before she died.
In 2015, Kisii governor feted Moraa Ng’iti, a medicine woman and prophetess agitated the fight against colonialism towards the Kisii people in 1905, among the names of people who made significant contribution in the history of Abagusi.
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Another renowned woman leader is Wangu wa Makeri, reportedly the first ever woman chief in colonial Kenya. We also had Grace Onyango who became the first female Member of Parliament and first mayor of Kisumu. These are just a few among the few who contested against men who were vocal and were determinants in what was to become during those earlier times.
It’s evident, the Kenyan woman has been in the struggle towards a better Kenya for as long but history is bleak about their struggles. The previously chauvinistic society that equated the woman to a child has led to little or nothing being documented about the womenfolk.
But the few who beat all odds to rise before men and lead their people to fight against the oppressive Britons and other African chiefs who had bought the white man’s favour through sycophancy at the expense of their fellow kinsmen should be recognised.
We have had buildings, institutions and streets and statues across the country named after people, some of whom brought no value to the people but untold suffering, but is there any named after our heroines? Maybe we have some on nothing of much interest.
Though repressive uprisings aren’t always easy for women and children, the few who brave all the heat that the state should be cognizant of, perhaps much or them be included in books as we brace ourselves for a revised syllabus.
Select Mau Mau women (Charity Waciuma 1969, Muthoni Likimani 1985 and Wambui Otieno 1998) have released memoirs about the place of the woman during the struggle; much of it is unknown as a ban was placed on the group till President Mwai Kibaki lifted the ban in 2013.
This government, various county governments should set aside resources to cater for the recognition of our heroines to appreciate their spirited fight towards the freedoms that we enjoy today.
Some of the children and grandchildren find themselves impoverished and ignored by the government as they were left hopeless due to the brutality directed to their mothers and grandmothers by the British regime.
Like in the case of Tubman, it is prudent that not only men ride in the glory that women too tirelessly struggled to have restored.
Women have been front runners recently in pressing had in repulsion against an unbecoming institution or state organ, your legacies will reign a lifetime. Keep going.
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