NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has asked Luo elders to discard their earlier demands to hold a traditional burial for the late freedom fighter Wambui Otieno at her late husband’s home in Siaya County.
He informed a requiem mass at St Andrews (PCEA) church that the Chairman of the Council of Luo Council of Elders Mzee Opiyo Otondi was leading a delegation from the community to attend funeral ceremony in Nairobi.
The premier who also read a condolence message on behalf of President Mwai Kibaki described the late Wambui as a “libertarian” whose inclination to freedoms made her rebel against any system, customs and laws that constrained human rights.
“Wambui was foremost an icon of freedom and liberty. She knew from an early age that one could not live in slavery,” he said.
Mr Odinga took the occasion to challenge scholars to double their effort in pinpointing the role of women in the struggles for liberty in the pre and post independence era.
He decried that the sacrifices the women like Wambui made for freedom and equality had consistently been underestimated locally although some foreign authors acknowledged their contribution.
“One of the best known books by a foreign correspondent, Africa Dispatches from a Fragile Continent by Blaine Harden of the Washington Post devotes a whole chapter to Wambui,” the PM said.
The Premier said at least 11 percent of detainees released at the end of the emergency period in 1959 were women but their achievements during the struggle remained silent in history books.
The late Wambui succumbed to an ailment last week and is remembered for championing for the cause and independence of women, a legacy that she passionately held to the grave.
Ironically, the former Mau Mau fighter almost suffered a similar predicament as her late husband SM Otieno, as a dispute emerged over her burial site.
A section of the Umira Kager clansmen in Siaya County last week demanded that the remains of Wambui be laid to rest near her late husband’s grave contrary to her will.
When SM Otieno died, Wambui engaged the Umira Kager clan in a six-month court battle over his burial place, but she lost.
Wambui again captured news headlines eight years ago when at 68 years of age, she decided to marry Peter Mbugua, a man 42 years her junior to the shock of a largely conservative nation.