Mama Ngina's Unbearable Torture at Kamiti Prison

  • During Kenya's colonial period, former First Lady Mama Ngina, also suffered as did her husband, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

    Apart from suffering loneliness because of her life partner being away, she too was subjected to harsh conditions of confinement at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.

    A book by Mukami Kimathi, wife of freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi, titled Mükami Kimathi: Mau Mau Freedom Fighter, showed how she and Mama Ngina endured torture.

    The two became cellmates after the colonial government launched a crackdown, on women who were close to liberation fighters, among them their husbands.

    Kenya's maiden first lady, was given the hard task of caring for the children of all the women, who had been locked up with them. 

    "Ngina Kenyatta was assigned to take care of all the children of the prisoners working in the gangs. She had more than 50 children under her care. My son was one of them," narrated  Mukami.

    Kenyatta's wife had to feed and clean the children, bearing in mind the deplorable conditions of the prison.

    "I would come from the farms or the quarries and find Ngina with a child strapped to her back, another one in front while rocking two more with her hands," Mukami added.

    She further disclosed that sometimes, they would go many days without food, forcing them to survive on soil mixed with water. 

    Besides starvation, the women prisoners were at times called to go and bury inmates who had been hanged.

    Even when they were not conducting mass burials, the women would know when a freedom fighter had been executed, by the hideous screeching sound made by the improvised gallows.

    When the physical and psychological torture yielded nothing, the warders sent preachers to try to convert the women to Christianity, with promises of immense riches if they renounced the freedom struggle.