Family of unsung Mau Mau hero wants national recognition

As Kenyans mark Mashujaa Day, a Kisii county family has nothing to celebrate even after its head played a key role in the struggle for Kenya’s independence.

The family of Mau Mau freedom fighter, Zuriel Moturi Keari from Chibwobi village, Gesusu ward Nyaribari Masaba constituency who was detained in 1953 - 1956 by the colonial government at the height of agitation for the country’s freedom have now challenged the Government to remember the role which mzee played.

Speaking to the Press on Wednesday at their home led by the eldest son of the hero Hezron Moturi, his father resigned from being a pastor to join politics and Mau Mau fighters in 1942 and later died in 1981 from pneumonia at a Kericho hospital, leaving nothing to show of his heroism at his humble home, except a poorly maintained grave outside a rusty tin- roofed structure.

Hezron also said that his father’s name is being mentioned at the county headquarters during national days with little regard to how he came to liberate the country from the Brettonwood oppressive regime.

Unveiling a plaque on the hero's grave, the family members and relatives interviewed demanded the deceased’s recognition by the two levels of government including any benefits entitled to the freedom fighters.

James Keari claimed he witnessed his father participated in activities as a member of the then-outlawed Mau Mau outfit but after independence he was sidelined.

Keari blamed some Abagusii leaders for blocking his recognition in the post-independence government, prompting him later to visit the Mau Mau chairman Githu Kahengeri to register the family’s concerns.

He added that after finding that his father’s name was not in Mau Mau list he registered an association to press for the rights of freedom fighters from the community but with little success.

Olphah Nyaboke, the hero's daughter also said that his father used to manufacture homemade guns at his home with a group of people from Central Kenya for distribution to Mau Mau members in the forests.

Nyaboke cited an incident when she was given the guns and delivered them successfully at Elburgon, where she was subjected to an oath on the movement.

Mathew Obachi, a nephew described the hero as the chairman of the Mau Mau movement in Kisii who was later tasked by the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta to chair Kanu and mentor leaders in the region.

According to Obachi, who feared that his association with the uncle might cost him his teaching job, he said people from Nairobi used to hold secret meetings at Moturi’s home to plot on how to replace the colonial administration.

But a granddaughter to the hero, Rose Mogoi, challenged the national government and historians to document the role Abagusii fighters played towards independent Kenya.

Mogoi who was pained by the fact that the community heroes never featured prominently in the freedom struggle urged researchers and historians to do justice for them.

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