Dedan Kimathi’s secret letters laid bare
One night before freedom hero Dedan Kimathi was executed, he made two requests: That he repents his sins and that the church takes his son to school.
This is contained in secret letters Kimathi wrote to a priest on February 18 1957, a day before he was executed.
For the first time, the secret letters of the freedom fighter lay bare a spiritual man who cared deeply for his family.
Many Kenyans have just seen the man in a black and white photo, dreadlocked and chained.
In a hand written letter addressed to Fr Nicola Marino, the priest who was then in charge of Nyeri Mathari Mission, Kimathi asked that his son Meshack Waciuri be enrolled in one of the Catholic schools.
“I request for a favour -take my son to school. I trust that something must be done to see that he starts earlier under your care,” the letter acquired from Istituto Missioni Consola (Institute of Consolata Missionaries) in Rome states.
He made a plea that all the Fathers , Brothers and Sisters within the Catholic hierarchy pray for him and asks God to forgive him for all his sins.
He also asked the priest to comfort his aging mother when he dies.
According to the letter, Kimathi expressed optimism that his wife, who was also serving jail term at Kamiti, would be released soon.
According to Evelyn Wanjogu, a daughter of Kimathi, her ageing mother Mukami, indeed confirmed to them the handwriting on the letter was Kimathi’s.
“It is true my father wrote that letter and asked Fr Marino to take care of his family. And Fr Marino did all what he was asked and thanks to him, my mother grew stronger despite losing such a brave and loving husband,” says Ms Wanjogu.
According to another letter, a late reply from Fr Marino dated March 19, 1969, which acknowledged that he had received the letter from Kimathi, the freedom fighter was a staunch Christian.
He was initiated to the Catholic doctrine since childhood. On the night before execution, and after confessing his sins and asking for forgiveness, Fr Marino’s reply letter indicates that Kimathi was baptized and given the Holy Communion.
Kimathi worked as untrained teacher, a clerk and a farm manager in Nyeri and Rift Valley before joining the struggle for freedom.
He was shot and arrested at a valley in Kahigai-ini village, Tetu where his family, relatives and friends and officials visit every February 18 to mark the day.