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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dedan Waciuri Kimathi's farewell letter: Even Heroes Despair

Caption to photo: One of the last photographs taken of legendary Dedan Kimathi badly wounded and in pain but still in handcuffs with guards surrounding him.

Dedan Waciuri Kimathi's farewell letter
Dedan Kimathi died young at the tender age of 37. He died a defeated man in great pain from gun shot wounds and the torture he went through in the hands of his captors. He had no way of knowing what impact his gallant resistance effort had really had. How would he have imagined in his wildest fantasies that independence (albeit with more frustrations from a new master) was just 6 short years away?

The letter below written in surprisingly good English for a man with such scanty education paints the picture of a lonely man who fears that he will be forever forgotten but prepared fully for the after-world. It brought tears to my eyes.

The letter dated was written on 17th February 1957, one day before Kimathi was executed by the British Colonial Government in Kenya on 18th February 1957. The letter is addressed to one Father Marino of Catholic Mission, P.O. Box 25, Nyeri, Kenya.

The source of the letter is the Kenya National Archives, where a typed copy of the same was on display at the Kenya National Archives Public Gallery in the 1990s, since when it has been brought down. However members of the public can on request, get a typed photocopy of Kimathi’s said below letter at the Kenya National Archives. It remains unclear if the original handwritten copy of Kimathi’s said below letter still exists, and if it still does, in whose possession it is. Contents of Kimathi’s said letter of 17th February 1957 reproduced below verbatim…
Dedan Kimathi
C/O H.M Prison (i.e. Her Majesty’s Prison)
17th February 1957

Father Marino
Catholic Mission
P.O. Box 25

Dear Father,

It is about one O’clock night that I have picked up my pencil and paper so that I may remember you and your beloved friends and friends before the time is over.

I am so busy and so happy preparing for heaven tomorrow the 18th February 1957. Only to let you know that Father Whellam came in to see me here in my prison room as soon as he received the information regarding my arrival. He is still a dear kind person as I did not firstly expect. He visits me very often and gives me sufficient encouragement possible. He provided me with important books with more that all have set a burning light throughout my way to paradise, such as :-

1. Students Catholic Doctrine
2. In the likeness of Christ
3. The New Testament
4. How to understand the Mass
5. The appearance of the Virgin at Grotto of Lourdes
6. Prayer book in Kikuyu
7. The Virgin Mary of Fatima
8. The cross of the Rosary etc.

I want to make it ever memorial to you and all that only Father Whellam that came to see me on Christmas day while I had many coming on the other weeks and days. Sorry that they did not remember me during the birth of our Lord and Savior. Pity also that they forgot me during such a merry day.

I have already discussed the matter with him and I am sure that he will inform you all.

Only a question of getting my son to school. He is far from many of your schools, but I trust that something must be done to see that he starts earlier under your care etc.

Do not fail from seeing my mother who is very old and to comfort her even though that she is so much sorrowful.

My wife is here. She is detained at Kamiti Prison and I suggest that she will be released some time. I would like her to be comforted by sisters e.g. Sister Modester, etc. for she too feels lonely. And if by any possibility she can be near the mission as near Mathari so that she may be so close to the sisters and to the church.

I conclude by telling you only to do me favor by getting education to my son.

Farewell to the world and all its belongings, I say and best wishes I say to my friends with whom we shall not meet in this busy world.

Please pass my complements and best wishes to all who read Wathiomo Mukinyu. Remember me too to the Fathers, Brothers and Sisters.

With good hope and best wishes,

I remain dear Father

Yours Loving, and Departing Convert

D. Kimathi


Anonymous said...

...And you people continue to worship Mzungus to this very day.
You know how embarrassing it is to treat your fellow Kenyans like dirts but kiss mzungu's ass?
Kenya together with Uganda are notorious for Mzungu worship unlike places like Nigeria, Ghana, S,Africa....etc.

I hate Kenya for this and I WILL NEVER RETURN to live with primitive jungle mentally-handicapped Kenyans!

Nyanza si Kenya said...

Nyanza si Kenya

Anonymous said...

Mau Mau Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi's Last Letter.

First things first, some of us will not indulge ourselves in anymore rants, pleas and apologies with regard to various personal perspective, views and opinions that are destined to remain in the dustbin of unposted materials due to reasons well known and unknown -understandably so.

Oh! by the way, the next time some of us manage to get extra ten days under our vacation belts or calendars, we should definitely invest them into driving/flying out to West Pokot County, in the company of our dear families and several long term good friends.

Why? In order to pay overdue homage leading Kenyan nationalists who had the courage, conviction and creativity to stand up against glaring colonial injustice and in search for freedom of all Kenyans.

Lest the majority of us and the next generations of Kenyans forget or continue to ignore the political struggles that were spearheaded by The Kapenguria Six - Bildad Kaggia, Kung'u Karumba, Jomo Kenyatta, Fred Kubai, Paul Ngei, and Achieng'Oneko - and many of their contemporaries.

Back to the Mau Mau Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi's Last Letter.

Why is Chris of Kumekucha surprised that Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi wrote the letter in good English?

Chris of Kumekucha, do you, including some of us know where the original hand written letter is kept and by whom?

And why the last letter plus twelve others were never intercepted by the colonial security forces that were on high alert at the time?

No that the letter's current whereabouts really matters at this point and time, but it will shed a whole new light into what was going on behind scenes a time.

And why the likes of Padre Marino, Cosmus, Benalia, Mancini, and others had a free access to most of the Mau Mau freedom fighters detained at Kamiti, King'ong'o, Lang'ata, Naivasha, etc.

In memory of Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi - Kimathi wa Waciuri - October 31, 1920 - February 18, 1957 and countless freedom fighters who lost their lives so that others may live in freedom.

Anonymous said...

Wow- quite a moving letter! I hope the Brits can finally reveal where the remains of this gallant fighter are hidden so that he can be given a state burial and finally rest in peace. Kimathi's wife was living in absolute squalor in some mud house in Kinangop. I'm glad the former president Mwai Kibaki ordered a decent house to be constructed for her and 'legalized' the Mau Mau. Kimathi's statue at the corner of Kimathi St, near Hilton should be a reminder to all and sundry how this great Kenyan gave up his life, not for tons of cash, but for the sake of this quite ungrateful and sometimes forgetful nation.

M. Pesa

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Kimathi wa Waciuri got his early childhood education from some of the oldest missionary schools, in the same way Harry Thuku, Johnstone Kamau (Jomo Kenyatta) and many others had already done before Kimathi was born.

Wow! Time goes by so first to the point where it is so easy to forget Kenyans who first bore the brunt of colonialism after their ancestral territories were declared a British Protectorate on July 1, 1895.

In fact, it did not take long before the missionaries from the Anglican Church, Church of Scotland, Gospel Mission Society and Catholic Church followed the officers of the British Government who were already excerting control over vast territories in what was later to become known as Kenya.

By December 1902 and 1903, the cross followed the Union Jack - Musalaba ulifuata bendera - into Gikondi, Tetu and Gaichanjiru.

Later on in 1904, life as people knew it in and around Mathari, Karima, Mugoiri and other regions was never changed forever when religion was used in the process to devide, conquer and rule the territory of the natives.

The rest is history as some of us have known in various versions and at different times of our lives.

Anonymous said...


What is the intentionally contemptuous message as seen in that picture of Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi in captivity after having been betrayed by three individuals who had sold out their souls to the Bristish security forces?

Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi was a man - resistance fighter - who was way much ahead of his time.

Take a good second look at his left hand, and what do you see?

Case in point, it was no coincidence that he decided to flash a hand sign to his fellow resistance fighters and all of his folowers who were opposed to the British colonial rule in Kenya.

There are so many young Kenyans and other East Africans who keep flashing their versions of hand signs without ever realizing that long long long time ago, flashing of hand signs and group hand signatures were already in use by the likes of Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi.

Taabu said...


Are you in COMATOSE or something? Why bother with a 1957 letter in 2013 when Kenya is led by HE Uhuru not even born then?

Please ATAMO (accept TYRANY and MOVE ON), will ya?

Unknown said...

Kimathi never wrote that letter. This was written by Fr. Marino pretending to be Kimathi.

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