October 5, 2022

Maasai Woman Who Fought for Independence Languishes in Poverty

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Mama Miriam Kisio, 90, is one of the few women in Kenya who fought for independence and lives to tell the Mau Mau tales.

She was the wife to late major General Kurito Ole Kisio, whom together they participated in the Mau Mau secret activities within Olorropil area in the current Narok North Sub County.

The husband, Ole Kisio was a renowned veteran war hero who participated in the Second World War from 1939 to 1945 and continued to serve in the British Army until 1949 when he opted to quit the job to join Mau Mau when it was then a secret organization.

Mama Kisio lives in her first born son’s plot at London estate in Narok town. Though she is in her 90’s, she vividly recalls how she struggled for her country to gain independence.

She recalls when she got married to General Kisio in 1950, he was actively involved in Mau Mau activities and he sensed that his young wife could be in trouble because of the colonial movement hence took her to hiding in Morijo area in Narok South Sub County.

“When the colonial government failed to arrest my husband, they got a tip that I had been hidden at Morijo area and immediately came to arrest me,” she recalls.

By the time of arrest, Mama Kisio was five months pregnant with their second born son and she remembers being taken by two askaris, one black and another white to Narok Prison, then known as ‘jela kubwa’.

In the prison, she recalls meeting other people who had been arrested from Nakuru County, however, after a few days, all other women were released to go home and she was left alone.

She says when she neared delivery, she was taken to another cell in Narok town, then known as ‘Jela Ndogo’ where she stayed until she was taken to deliver in Narok hospital.

“When I was taken to ‘Jela ndogo’, I was locked in a room and not allowed to go work like other prisoners until I delivered my second born son Tuta Ole Kisio in 1954,” she says.

After delivery, her people were called to see the baby and bring her food, but her husband had never visited her to see their son.

While in prison in 1954, she received the sad news through public hearsay that her husband had been killed by the colonial administration.

She remembers being taken to Entara detention camp in Narok and after a while transferred to Olokurto detention camp where she was released in 1956.

After jail, mama Kisio went back to her husband’s home at Olopito area in Narok North Sub County where she lived until in 1990’s when she was evicted when the land was being subdivided.

“The family of my husband, late Kisio, resolved that my husband would not be given a share of the land. I was denied the right to get the family share of the land and consequently chased away,” she laments.

This forced her to live at Fanaka estate in Narok town with her first born son where she lives in a semi-permanent house.

Her greatest worry is that she is growing older and wonders where she would be buried when she dies because she has nowhere to call home.

Though the office of the County Commissioner proposed to set aside the ‘Jela Ndogo’ grounds for her burial, she laments that her effort to seek for legal documentation from the county government has been futile.

However, she is grateful for the Old Persons Cash Transfer programme that has sustained her as they buy food and clothes with the cash.

Her first born son Tumanka Ole Kisio says he has watched her mother suffering in poverty despite narrating stories on how they struggled for independence.

He says he did not have a privilege of completing his primary education because his mother could not afford paying for their school fees.

Tumanka called on the government to give compensation to her elderly mother so that she can enjoy the fruits of independence before her death.

Narok County Mau Mau Association Secretary David Kamau reiterates the family of Mama Kisio still lives in poverty despite the hardship they went through to gain independence.

He says Mama Kisio has been narrating to him how she suffered under the colonial government but shockingly enough she has never enjoyed the fruits of independence.

“It is sad that we the Mau Mau people have not really enjoyed the fruits of our independence. We plead to the government to consider rewarding those who fought for independence by giving them a decent livelihood,” reiterates Kamau.

Kamau calls on the county government to allocate the ‘Jela Ndogo’ land, near the Narok Law Courts, for the freedom fighters where they can build a Mau Mau monument and bury freedom fighters who are landless.

To keep the history of the freedom fighters alive, the official said they have registered their descendants and other interested Kenyans to join the association in respect to the country’s journey to independence.

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