Finally Auntie Jerrioth gave me the phone number to my Cucu (grandmother), Field Marshal Muthoni wa Kirima. As I had told you earlier, we are related through marriage, her sister is married to my grandfather, General Karangi. I was so excited and confused at the same time; anxious because I didn’t know if she’d agree to meet with us. I called her, we chatted like we had known each other for years. After that we kept in touch, she is always happy to talk to me. After numerous talks, telling her about our work and why are passionate about this, she agreed to meet the Museum of British Colonialism team. We set the interview date for Sunday 22nd July. She was coming to Nairobi from Nyeri to attend a church services at African Independent Pentecostal Church of Kenya (AIPCK) in Githurai 45, a church she founded and sponsors, and she invited us to join.
We set out early in the morning to meet Olivia and Adam in town. I was joined by my two sons, Hannington and Devlin. My sister Muthoni and her daughter Lulu also joined us. My sister is part of the museum team. We are like a family business! We linked up with in David in town, as well, who had done the filming for our HistoryHit documentary and was going to join us to take photos. This was the first time Muthoni was meeting Olivia, Adam and David face to face. Technology has changed a lot of things.
The journey started with a debate on whether the church was located in Githurai 44 or 45. We decided to go with the church located in Githurai 44….. and this was the beginning of drama.
I switched on my audio GPRS, pinned AIPCK Kahawa West as the destination and we set out in a convoy of 3 vehicles. Let me say it was not easy driving through rough roads to a destination we were clueless about. We arrived at the gate of the said church, parked and went inside. Even when inside the church we could hear the songs and the music from at least three others. There were churches everywhere.
We joined in with the service and looked around for Field Marshal Muthoni. Out of nowhere I decide to ask one of the ushers if they had visitors from Nyeri. Can you imagine the shock on me when she said NO. ☹ I asked again if they had a Mau Mau visitor in church, again said no. Wow! I gathered the rest of the crew and we went out to strategize. Muthoni’s phone was now off, but the usher informed us of another parish which was located almost 10Kms away. After getting the coordinates, my sister led the way. On arriving there, they said they hadn’t received any visitors. We were directed to another church only to receive the same news. Finally, we set out to their other parish in Githurai 45. On arriving there we realized that we had been searching the wrong name. This church was AIPCA and not AIPCK. ☺ Fortunately one of the church leaders informed us there was one AIPCK in Githurai Kimbo and requested a church member to drive with us there.
FINALLY!! On getting to this church’s gate, the first thing we saw were two vans from Nyeri, at last we were in the right place. We were tired, dusty and thirsty and our vehicles looked like they had come from an off-road challenge. The church service had already started, we arrived over one and a half (1½) hours late. We were welcomed very well and ushered into the church. After a while we were asked to introduce ourselves.
And there she was, Field Marshal Muthoni herself. I was filled joy just by looking at her from a distance. She personally came to welcome us. I felt goose pimples run through my body. I couldn’t believe I was standing next to her, our Freedom fighter, a Kenyan heroine, my grandmother. She was so excited to see us, she threw a couple of flying kisses at us. I tell you, this lady can command a room. She has panache; you can’t help but notice her.
As this was an independence service, we also met with some other veterans. One veteran, Mr. Eliud Rware, has been a close friend of Field Marshal Muthoni since the Emergency. He showed us identity cards from the time of the Empire, clippings from the paper, both past and present, and photos of the two of them over the years, as they saw in Kenya’s independence and beyond.
I know you are waiting to hear the part where we sat down and interviewed Field Marshal Muthoni. After a long day and an upcoming meeting with the Church Elders, she suggested it would be better if we went to Nyeri to spend proper time with her in September, when Olivia was also back in town. We can be at home with her. Be in her life, her surroundings and hear more of her story. So we made a date. And we’ll be back…