Mekatilili wa Menza – Kenyan Warrior and Prophetess

Mekatilili wa Menza, a warrior and prophetess, inspired the Giriama to rise up in rebellion against the British empire.

She was a British colonial administrator who was slapped when she objected to their imperialist tactics and attempts to subdue them. She was born in the 1860s.

Kenyan heroine Mekatilili wa Menza, known as the Mother of Resistance, rose up against the colonial invaders.

Once, she said;

“I am not afraid to speak the truth and fight for my people. My powers come from Kaya, rooted in the spirits of our ancestors”
She was a distinguished, vocal, and fearless leader and defended the rights of her people the Giriama by putting up resistance from the white invaders of their land.

She was the rebel leader of the Giriama against the British colonist.

They were taking large, fertile areas from the people, taxing the people, and forbidding the production of the regional brew palm wine (mnazi).

Mekatilili employed the kifudu dance, which was performed during burial rites, to incite the populace to either offer forced labor or to rebel against the colonial government.

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Her supporters were made to take an oath, which obliged them to defend their territory and their community.

When she was originally apprehended by the White men, she was imprisoned in Kisii, Kenya, where she eventually managed to return home after five years and the fight for freedom began.

She was apprehended and imprisoned a second time in Kismayu, Somalia, but she was still able to return home, and the fight for freedom persisted.

She passed away in or around 1925, and a cultural celebration was conducted in her honor at Bungale Ulaya Kwa Jele in the Magarini constituency of Malindi district.

Credit: African History Archive

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