Kenyan fury as ex-first lady cuts war hero’s hair
One of Kenya’s most prominent women fighters during the struggle for independence has had her locks cut by the former first lady after more than 60 years.
Kenyans online are questioning the significance of such symbolic act and asking why now?
Muthoni Kirima who is aged over 90, had her long grey-haired dreadlocks shaved in a public event on Saturday – which some saw as a political stunt.
Kenyans who fought in the Mau Mau war of liberation, which lasted between 1952 and 1960, are said to have vowed that they would never shave their hair for as long as the British colonialists ruled the land.
But Ms. Kirima was among the few who kept their locks after Kenya gained independence in 1963, even after many fighters had cut theirs.
It was a mark of defiance, and a reminder of the pain and perseverance that they had to go through fighting for independence – which she reckoned was not appreciated by successive governments.
On Saturday, her six-foot locks were cut by former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta – the mother of the current president. The hair was wrapped in the Kenyan flag and is to be stored in a museum to signify its history.
The event, held in the central county of Nyeri, was deemed a historic event and was attended by other veterans of the war and Kikuyu council of elders.
“This signifies that I am content that our country has had freedom. At last, generations are now free. What we fought for in the forest during the clamor for freedom has finally been achieved, “Ms. Kirima is quoted as saying.”
Some Kenyans have however been questioning whether what she was fighting for has been fulfilled, with some terming it a betrayal.
Others say this is a “grave insult” to the freedom struggle as they ask what could have changed for her to make the decision.
Some Kenyans have also accused politicians of taking advantage of an elderly woman for political gain – as Kenya prepares for general elections in August.
It comes as opposition leader Raila Odinga, whom President Kenyatta has been supporting for the presidency, is struggling to get support from the Mt. Kenya region, where Ms. Kirima comes from.