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A Tribute to Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi

Dedan Kimathi holds a cigarette next to his brother in this black and white photo

Dedan Kimathi (left) and his brother Wambararia - Aberdare forest in Kenya, 1963

The name Kimathi wa Waciuri has dominated the political scene in Kenya for years. In the early 1950s, he was active in the Kenya Land and Freedom army (Mau Mau) as an organizer in the Rift valley. Later, he led the guerrilla army fighting the British colonial occupation army and rose to its highest military rank, Field Marshal. With victories on the battlefield, came the need to consolidate the political authority of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army. This was done by the establishment of the Kenya Parliament which was the first legitimate African Government of Kenya. On 6th March 1955, Kimaathi was elected the first Prime Minister of the Kenya African Government. (Shiraz Durrani, Kimaathi: Mau Mau’s first prime minister of Kenya 1986)

31st October marked the 102-birth anniversary of one of the greatest military leaders and liberation heroes of the 20th century in Africa, Field Marshall Dedan Waciuri Kimathi. We pay tribute to this fearless soldier who established the first modern armed resistance movement against colonialism in Africa, something which motivated other liberation movements in the continent like in Algeria, Mozambique, Angola, and others to seek armed resistance way against colonial powers. It was an armed struggle waged by the Mau Mau under his leadership that won Kenya its independence from the British colonialists. Mau Mau was fought by the peasants, working class, landless, squatters, and the urban poor, with the trade unions forming the backbone of the organization.

We honor this man who led a fierce resistance against British colonial forces despite the numerous betrayals from the agents of the colonialists (the home guards). A revolutionary who refused to betray his fellow fighters to the British after he was betrayed by the colonial spies and therefore captured. Kimathi would be executed at the age of 36, something that would mark the end of the physical armed resistance in the country and pave way for the colonial puppets to inherit the colonial state and establish a more oppressive neo-colonial state, a manifestation of the highest level of betrayal against our people and those who sacrificed their lives for a liberated African territory.

In commemorating the birthday of this heroic African fighter, we want to remember him for who he was and what he stood for. To the imperial powers and their neo-colonial puppets in Kenya, Kimathi was a terrorist, whose only crime was standing up against British power and rallying his people to defend, fight and liberate their lands and freedom. We honor Kimathi in his truthful historical role, that of a liberator whose main goal was to see a free, liberated and independent Kenya.  

We celebrate Kimathi the liberation hero in the same way we celebrate other African liberation giants like Nkrumah, Lumumba, Cabral, Nasser, Ben Barka, Hani, and Machel among others. We remain the heirs of Kimathi, for our political goal lies in the total emancipation of our people from the yoke of oppression and exploitation from the children of colonial home guards and their imperial bosses. We are guided by Kimathi in our daily revolutionary study and practice and commit ourselves to continue this struggle he started and left unfinished because to us, Kimathi Lives!

Men like Kimathi do not die. Their legacy inspires and influences others to pick from where they left off and continue with the struggle. The greatest honor we could show this legendary warrior is to demand from this right-wing state his burial site so that we could offer him a decent and honorable send-off, that befits a revolutionary hero.  In the hearts and minds of millions of Africans in this 21st century, Kimathi will forever remain our revolutionary torch and a symbol of global resistance against imperialism, neo-colonialism, neo-liberalism, and above all, against capitalism!

Happy revolutionary birthday Field Marshall Waciuri Kimathi!

We continue to prefer dying on our feet, rather than living on our knees!

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