The Letter Dedan Kimathi Wrote Before His Execution

  • Dedan Kimathi, the leader of the Mau Mau movement that fought for Kenya's independence from the British colonial government, wrote a final letter before his execution on 18th February 1957.

    The letter, that was later authenticated, is addressed to one Father Marino of Catholic Mission, P.O. Box 25, Nyeri, Kenya and was penned just hours to his execution.

    Kimathi stated that he was happy as he 'prepared for heaven', and thanked a Father Whellam for regularly visiting him in prison and giving him various spiritual books that had nourished him.

    In the letter that was written in Kikuyu, Kimathi stated that all he wanted was for his son to receive an education.

    "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...

    "I conclude by telling you only to do me favor by getting education to my son," Kimathi's letter read in part.

    Kimathi also asked Father Marino to take care of his mother, who was growing old and was sorrowful.

    The valiant fighter further requested that his wife Mukami Kimathi, who was also being held at the Kamiti Maximum Prison, be visited and comforted as she was lonely.

    "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.

    [caption caption="Mukami Elois Kimathi widow of the late Dedan Kimathi being awarded Order of the Burning Spear by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House Nairobi."][/caption]

    "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," Kimathi stated.

    The letter was published in the Daily Nation of 25th July 1986, with the daily disclosing that the original letter is kept in Rome, Italy, at the Archivio Generale of the Instituto Mission Consolata. 

    [caption caption="The letter published by Daily Nation"][/caption]

    [caption caption="Dedan Kimathi"][/caption]

    Below are the contents of the letter reproduced 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
    Nyeri

    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

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