Kilifi county celebrates 14th annual Mekatilili wa Menza festival

For the first time, the fete organized by Malindi district cultural association was held at the same spot where Mekatilili slapped a British District Commissioner Arthur Champion on August 13, 1913, leading to the famous ‘Kondo ya Chembe’ (Chembe War).
In the previous years, the ceremony was held at Bungale in Magarini sub-county where Mekatilili was buried.
Cultural lovers, both young and old; men and women dressed in traditional Giriama attire, turned up at the site located at the bank of Galana river.
The celebrations kicked off on Sunday night with different sets of cultural activities. Elders lit bonfires and took time to tell ancient tales to young children. On display were traditional dances of the Mijikenda community.
This was followed by a series of events on Monday morning. including a women-only dance called ‘Kifudu’. This was stated to have been the heroine’s favorite traditional dance.
Women in full traditional regalia marched in a procession from the site to Shaka Hola trading center attracting a huge crowd of onlookers and followers.
Joseph Karisa, the MADCA secretary, said the event was historic.
“We plan to make this place an international memorial center to help people to come and learn culture and patriotism,” he said.

Among those present was a delegation from Mau Mau War Veterans Association led by secretary general Gitu Wa Kahengeri, Treasurer Grace Nyambura, and chairman Mbukugu Marete.

Gitu also officially laid a foundation for the memorial center in honor of Mekatilili Menza saying the site will promote peace, unity, and justice.

“This site reflects the birth of the Kenyan nation. Today, we are marking history which clearly states the beginning of the Mau Mau rebellion in the country.”

Marete, for his part, asked the government to honor Mau Mau heroes by directing authors to write the Warriors’ history afresh.
A new book called Shujaa Mekatilili Menza written by Dr. Tsawe- Munga Chidongo – a senior lecturer in African religious studies at Pwani University Kenya was launched.

The book traces the life of Mekatilili from childhood to marriage and her rebellion against injustices done by the British colonial rulers.

Dr. Chidongo said Mekatilili stood out from the rest for her courage in rebelling against the British.

Radio Kaya morning presenter Dama Kahindi and Bahari FM presenter George Biff Mkuzi were feted at the event.

Others who were given awards are Kazungu Hawerisa – a poet who writes Giriama poems, Mvera Kazungu – a young girl who took Mekatilili’s traditional attire to the US and nominated MCA Beatrice Mbuche among others.


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