USIU-Africa hosts launch of book on Dedan Kimathi as part of Black History Month celebration

By Swabra Soud

As part of the Black History Month celebrations, USIU-Africa was privileged to host Dr. Julie MacArthur, Dr.Willy M. Mutunga, Dr. Mickie Mwanzia and Mr. Mwongela Kamecu for the launch of Dedan Kimathi on Trial: Colonial Justice and Popular Memory in Kenya’s Mau Mau Rebellion by Julie MacArthur (Editor), Willy Mutunga (Introduction), Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Foreword), and Micere Githae Mugo (Foreword).

During the seminar held at the Chandaria School of Business, the authors shared their insights of the book, which unearths a piece that demonstrates how his capture and trial in 1956, and subsequent execution, for many marked the end of the rebellion and turned Kimathi into a patriotic martyr. The seminar was organized by Dr. Njoki Wamai (Assistant Professor, International Relations, School of Humanities and Social Sciences).

Speaking during the launch, Dr. MacArthur noted Dedan Kimathi’s status as one of the figures who stood out in Kenya’s fight for independence.

“No figure embodied the ambiguities, colonial fears, and collective imaginations of Kenya’s decolonization era more than Dedan Kimathi, the self-proclaimed field marshal of the rebel forces that took to the forests to fight colonial rule in the 1950s. He personified many of the contradictions that the Mau Mau rebellion represented: rebel statesman, literate peasant, modern traditionalist. His capture and trial in 1956, and subsequent execution, for many marked the end of the rebellion and turned Kimathi into a patriotic martyr,” she said.

In addition to containing the transcript from Kimathi’s trial, the book also includes provocative contributions from leading Mau Mau scholars reflecting on the meaning of the rich documents offered in the book and the figure of Kimathi in a much wider field of historical and contemporary concerns.

Dr. Julie MacArthur is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. She is the author of Cartography and the Political Imagination. She has published articles on refereed journals. She has also worked extensively in African cinema, both as a curator and an academic.

Dr.Willy M. Mutunga is a Kenyan lawyer, intellectual, reform activist, and was the Commonwealth Special Envoy to the Maldives. He is also an active member of the Justice Leadership Group. He is the retired Chief Justice of Kenya and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya.

Dr. Mickie Mwanzia Koster is an Assistant Professor of History in Africa and the African Diaspora at the University of Texas located in Tyler, Texas, USA. She has a B.A. in Mathematics and Information Science from Chatham College, MBA from Case Western Reserve University, M.A. in History from Cleveland State University, and a M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Rice University.

Mr. Mwongela Kamecu is an academic researcher with six years of experience who has written book chapters, magazine columns as well as blog posts. His domain is African political history although he multitasks and can write creative as well as descriptive articles. His key interests are politics, music and social movements.

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