Dedan Kimathi

From Academic Kids


Dedan Kimathi was born on October 31, 1920 in Thenge Village Tetu division, Nyeri district. Physically, he was heavyset and 5ft 9inch in height. He was medium-light skinned, bearded and had a thin scar about an inch long on or near the right or left cheek bone. His first two joints of left middle finger missing, probabily from an accident in the military. His father was called Waiuri and died before Kimathi was born. His mother's name was Waibuthi. He had two brothers and two sisters. He left behind three wives. His nickname was Njangu. He started his life looking after livestock as most young men of the time did. At the age of fifteen, he joined the local primary school,Karuna-ini where he perfected his English skills. His was Debate club member in his school. Surprisingly, he was deeply religious and carried a bible regularly. He worked for the forest department collecting tree seeds to help him foot his school bill. He later joined Tumutumu CSM School for his secondary learning, but dropped out for lack of funds. He used this language skill to write extensively before and during the uprising. He dabbled with several jobs but never felt fully settled. Notable was his enlisting with the army to fight in the Second World War in 1941. However, in 1944, he was expelled for misconduct. In 1946, he became a member of the Kenya African Union. In 1949, he started teaching at his old school but was dropped after being accused of rape. Nevertheless, he managed to be very influential to whomever he met through the string of jobs he was able to obtain. He became radically political in 1950; involving himself with the Mau Mau, and in 1950 administered the oath of the Mau Mau, making him a marked man. He joined Forty Group, the militant wing of the defunct Kikuyu Central Association in 1951. He was elected as a local branch secretary of KAU in Ol' Kalou and Thomson's Falls area in 1952. He was briefly arrested in the same year (1952), but escaped with the help of local police. This marked the beginning of his violent uprising. He formed Kenya Defence Council to co-ordinate all forest fighters in 1953. In 1957, he was finally arrested with one of his wife Wambui. He was sentenced to death by a court presided by Chief justice Kenneth O'Connor while in hospital bed at general hospital Nyeri. His lawyer was Mr F. Miller. In the early morning of February 18, 1957 he was executed by the colonial government. Some people feel Kenyatta could have been involved with his capture as he was a threat to his ambition politically. He was buried in a mass grave and to this day the British government object to his reburial as they felt, and continue to feel, he was a terrorist. He is, however, viewed by most Kenyans the way the Scottish view William Wallace. This is solidly supported by the fact that most towns in Kenya have a building or street named after Kimathi. Recommended reading includes the play "Trial of Dedan Kimathi" by Ngugi wa Thiong'o for a more detailed account of Kimathi. Ngugi's brother was a member of Mau Mau.

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