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…
C/O H.M Prison (i.e. Her Majesty’s Prison)
17th February 1957
P.O. Box 25
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