Published On: Mon, Feb 20th, 2017

Kenyans Mourn Shujaa Gitau wa Kibe – Mau Mau Veteran

 

An ardent Worker, a loving father, and a pioneer patriot, are the words that rent the air on Saturday 18th Feb, during the laying to rest of a valiant son of Kenya, Mzee Paul Gitau Kibe (Shujaa), [writes topi Lyambila] lovingly referred to by family and friends as ‘Mr. Good Morning’ – which was his signature tune greeting and welcome to all who had the privilege of visiting this unheralded Mau Mau Veteran.

Born in 1926, the Sun, set on Shujaa Gitau wa Kibe on Feb. 13th 2017. The man that history records as one of the first to volunteer as a freedom fighter, in Kenya’s struggle for independence,  lived a humble life filled with love and hard work.

When the Emergency was declared in 1952, Mzee Gitau wa Kibe escaped arrest until 1953 when he was caught and detained at various locations starting with Kamiti, then moved around to Kodiaga, Hola, Manyani and Athi River detention camps between 1953-1956.

The quiet serene surrounding of Ngoliba Farm on the out skirts of Thika was shattered on Saturday as a thousand plus mourners from all walks of life, around the world and Kenya, thronged in to pay their last respects to a veteran who preferred a quiet life to the raucous of modern day living albeit feeling the satisfaction of having fought to grant his Kenyan people their birthright.

Shujaa Gitau wa Kibe was laid to rest, in the place he had since resided after moving from his family home in Mukaraara Dagoretti in early 80s.

A befitting requiem mass kicked off the program on Saturday, celebrating Shujaa Gitau wa Kibe’s Catholic Missionary roots, he embraced and was baptized back in 1938.

It was a fair honour for the farewell parade to be graced by the Shujaa Freedom Fighters led by Veteran Shujaa Gitu wa Kahengeri who paid his last respects with a glowing tribute; saying Shujaa Gitau wa Kibe was a brave man and a long-time friend, he met during the struggle for independence against the white-man’s rule and occupation.

Shujaa Gitu wa Kahengeri called on Kenyans to maintain peace and friendship during this election year, as a way of respecting and cherishing the freedom earned through sweat and blood by the heroes who fell in the struggle and those that survived to tell the story.

Interestingly Shujaa Gitau wa Kibe was never in the forefront with the likes of Gitu wa Kahengeri in the fight for compensation in the British Courts. A factor attributed to his love for the quiet farm life raising his 11 children (Late Josiah Mugo, Mary Njeri, Elizabeth Muthoni-HSC, John Kibe, Ann Wanjiru, Monica Wariara, Joseph Waweru, Agnes Wanjiku (CEO – GBS and Kenya London News), Gideon Mwaura, Nancy Waithira and Jacinta Wanjira).

A noted highlight of his 54 years as a free man; was the occasion Mzee visited one of the detention centres he was held at during the Mau Mau Uprising, namely Manyani Prison. This could most probably be, where he was held longest or provided the toughest challenge.

HUMILITY

It was not until Saturday that the whole truth donned on me. Back in London as Editor of Kenya London News an online newspaper, we fervently covered the Mau Mau Veterans’ quest for compensation; along with other Kenyans in London we prepared placards and attended every court session.

Championing this course albeit remotely was my CEO, Agnes Gitau. Despite our closeness, Agnes had never ever revealed to me just how connected ‘Daddy’ was to the Mau Mau Veteran’s course! It was during Shujaa Gitu wa Kahengeri’s speech that the intensity hit me, and I believe many others; that her father Mzee Gitau wa Kibe was actually a Shujaa of great proportions. One of the gallant soldiers who volunteered to reclaim the dignity and cultural identity of the Kenyan man and woman, from a Colonial Government that had outlived its welcome.   Now I know that like father like daughter, the humility rides in the family, with one sister Elizabeth Muthoni earning the Head of State Commendation (HSC) for her work with orphaned children! All that, done on the quiet.

The character of this unsung hero, is captured in the ‘Tribute to my Father’ read by one of the children Alice Jacinta Wanjira –

“Mr Goodmorning, our father, our hero, our mentor, our friend,..…. We thank God for having blessed us with you as our father,”

Shujaa Gitau wa Kibe, is survived by his loving wife Lucia Waruguru Gitau, 10 children, 22 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Mama Lucia Waruguru Gitau was regal in the tribute to her husband, summing it up with a deep message; –

“Some day, some time, my eyes shall see;

The face I loved so well.

Some day, some time, his hand I’ll clasp;

And never say farewell.”

Your Loving Wife Lucia Waruguru.

Grandkids Lois and little sis Shiru Mathu

Crowning the day was another wonderful valedictory – ‘Tribute to Guka’ read by 10 year-old London based Kenyalyn -Agnes’ daughter. She cited a lesson she had learned from her Guka; that of sharing, when at different times when they first visited, three grand children were each separately given a dog named Scooby by Grandpa. So she wondered why this apparent mix-up? That is when ‘Guka Goodmorning’, explained and taught her the importance of sharing. Finishing the tribute with the simple words-

“Look after Shushu. Till we meet again in heavenly joy! Koma na Thayu Guka.

May the soul of Shujaa Paul Gitau wa Kibe rest in eternal peace! Amen.

 

 

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