March 30, 2014

Ethiopian farmer gets legal aid from UK – to sue UK for giving aid to a brutal regime of Ethiopia

Filed under: UK — ethiopiantimes @ 12:10 pm
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An Ethiopian farmer has been given legal aid in the UK to sue Britain – because he claims millions of pounds sent by the UK to his country is supporting a brutal regime that has ruined his life.Gift: Prime Minister David Cameron claims the donations are a mark of Britain's compassion

He says UK taxpayers’ money –  £1.3 billion over the five years of the coalition Government – is funding a despotic one-party state in his country that is forcing thousands of villagers such as him from their land using murder, torture and rape.

The landmark case is highly embarrassing for the Government, which has poured vast amounts of extra cash into foreign aid despite belt-tightening austerity measures at home.

Prime Minister David Cameron claims the donations are a mark of Britain’s compassion.

But the farmer – whose case is  set to cost tens of thousands of pounds – argues that huge sums handed to Ethiopia are breaching the Department for International Development’s (DFID) own human rights rules.

He accuses the Government of devastating the lives of some of the world’s poorest people rather than fulfilling promises to help them. The case comes amid growing global concern over Western aid propping up corrupt and repressive regimes.

If the farmer is successful, Ministers might have to review major donations to other nations accused of atrocities, such as Pakistan and Rwanda – and it could open up Britain to compensation claims from around the world.

Ethiopia, a key ally in the West’s war on terror, is the biggest  recipient of British aid, despite repeated claims from human rights groups that the cash is used to crush opposition.

DFID was served papers last month by lawyers acting on behalf of ‘Mr O’, a 33-year-old forced to abandon his family and flee to a refugee camp in Kenya after being beaten and tortured for trying to protect his farm.

He is not seeking compensation but to challenge the Government’s approach to aid. His name is being withheld to protect his wife and six children who remain in Ethiopia.

‘My client’s life has been shattered by what has happened,’ said Rosa Curling, the lawyer handling the case. ‘It goes entirely against what our aid purports to stand for.’


Mr O’s family was caught in controversial ‘villagisation’ programmes. Under the schemes, four million people living in areas opposed to an autocratic government dominated by men from the north of the country are being forced from lucrative land into new villages.

Their land has been sold to foreign investors or given to Ethiopians with government connections.

People resisting the soldiers driving them from their farms and homes at gunpoint have been routinely beaten, raped, jailed, tortured or killed.

Exodus: The farmer claims villagers are being attacked by troops driving them from their land

Exodus: The farmer claims villagers are being attacked by troops driving them from their land


‘Why is the West, especially the UK, giving so much money to the Ethiopian government when it is committing atrocities on my people?’ asked Mr O when we met last year.

His London-based lawyers argue that DFID is meant to ensure recipients of British aid do not violate human rights, and they have failed to properly investigate the complaints.

Human Rights Watch has issued several scathing reports highlighting the impact of villagisation and showing how Ethiopia misuses aid for political purposes, such as diverting food and seeds  to supporters.

Concern focuses on a massive scheme called Protection of Basic Services, which is designed to upgrade public services and is part-funded by DFID.

Force: Ethiopian federal riot police point their weapons at protesting students in a square in the country's capital, Addis Ababa

Force: Ethiopian federal riot police point their weapons at protesting students in a square in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa


Critics say this cash pays the salaries of officials implementing resettlements and for infrastructure at new villages.

DFID officials have not interviewed Mr O, reportedly saying it is too risky to visit the United Nations-run camp in Kenya where he is staying, and refuse to make their assessments public.

A spokesman said they could not comment specifically on the legal action but added: ‘It is wrong to suggest that British development money is used to force people from their homes. Our support to the Protection of Basic Services programme is only used to provide healthcare, schooling, clean water and other services.’


Intimidation: Riot police confront a man (not the claimant) near the Tegbareed Industrial College as officers beat rock-throwing students during a demonstration

Intimidation: Riot police confront a man (not the claimant) near the Tegbareed Industrial College as officers beat rock-throwing students during a demonstration


As he showed me  pictures on his mobile phone of his homeland, the tall, bearded farmer smiled fondly. ‘We were very happy growing up there and living there,’ he said. This was hardly surprising: the lush Gambela region of Ethiopia is a fertile place of fruit trees, rivers and fissures of gold, writes Ian Birrell

That was the only smile when I met Mr O in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya last year. He told me how his simple family life had been destroyed in seconds – and how he blames British aid for his misery. ‘I miss my family so much,’ he said. ‘I don’t want to be relying on handouts –  I want to be productive.’

His nightmare began in November 2011 when Ethiopian troops accompanied by officials arrived in his village and ordered everyone to leave for a new location.

Men who refused were beaten and women were raped, leaving some infected with HIV.

I met a blind man who was  hit in the face and a middle-aged mother whose husband was  shot dead beside her – she still bore obvious the scars from  her own beating and rape by three soldiers.

Unlike their previous home, their new village had no food, water, school or health facilities. They were not given farmland and there were just a few menial jobs.

‘The government was pretending it was about development,’ said Mr O, 33. ‘But they just want to push the indigenous people off so they can take our land and gold.’


After speaking out against forced relocations and returning to his village, Mr O was taken to a military camp where for three days he was gagged with a sock in his mouth, severely kicked and beaten with rifle butts and sticks.

‘I thought it would be better  to die than to suffer like this,’ he  told me.

Afterwards, like thousands of others, he fled the country; now he lives amid the dust and squalor of the world’s largest refugee camp. He says their land was then given to relatives of senior regime figures and foreign investors from Asia and the Middle East.

‘I am very angry about this aid,’ he said. ‘Britain needs to check what is happening to its money.
‘I hope the court will act to stop the killing, stop the land-grabbing and stop your Government supporting the Ethiopian government behind this.’

As the dignified Mr O said so sagely, what is happening in his country is the precise opposite  of development.

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March 29, 2014

Twenty Killed in the Negele Borena Crisis

Filed under: Negele Borena — ethiopiantimes @ 10:55 pm
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The conflict between Guji and Borena communities in and around the small town of Negele Borena is still continuing.

In this conflict that was raised on March 24, 2014 on the naming of the town, DireTube news sources said that around 20 individuals are killed.

The news sources have also said that the conflict it rampant at the Leg gula and Ardot areas outside Negele Borena. Though federal police and Oromia region’s special force have arrived at the conflict area people are said to have fled their homes.

Efforts by the region’s higher officials to negotiate between the clashing parties haven’t been successful.

Girum Tebeje and Biniyam Gebrekiristos for Dire Tube

March 28, 2014

Ethiopian Muslims peaceful protest at Anwar Masjid Addis Ababa

Filed under: Ethiopian Muslim — ethiopiantimes @ 9:15 pm
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March 27, 2014

Message from Ethiopian Community in Bahrain.

Filed under: Bahrain — ethiopiantimes @ 9:43 pm
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March 26, 2014

Egypt considers referring Renaissance Dam file to the Hague

Filed under: Nile — ethiopiantimes @ 11:04 pm
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A general view shows construction activity on the Grand Renaissance Dam in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz region, March 16, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Egypt considers referring Renaissance Dam file to the Hague

The Specialized National Councils in Egypt filed an important report to the presidency, including a study about referring the issue of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to the International Court of Justice for arbitration. The report was prepared in Egypt by a team of experts in law and international arbitration led by Mufid Shehab. Shehab was part of the international Taba arbitration tribunal, through which Egypt succeeded in recovering the town in 1988.

The report, which is still under examination, included a comprehensive study that was prepared in the same way the file of Taba was prepared. The study documents the damage that would be inflicted on Egypt as a result of the construction of the Renaissance Dam, and examines the stance of Ethiopia, which contradicts international law and United Nations principles. The report would be filed by the Egyptian government to the UN General Assembly, which would decide whether to present it to the Security Council or refer it to the International Court of Justice.

Hani Reslan, head of the Sudan and Nile Basin Unit at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Al-Monitor, “The study does not include the issue of direct referral to arbitration through the International Court of Justice, since [arbitration] requires a mutual consent from both parties, and it is unlikely for Ethiopia to accept it. This is why the report will be filed to the UN to be later referred upon its order to the International Court of Justice, in case the presidency decided to put the case in motion.” Reslan participated in a closed workshop with the team that prepared the study under the leadership of Shehab.

For his part, former Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Nasser Eldin Allam told Al-Monitor that the “charters of the UN and the African Union stipulate the peaceful settlement of conflicts. Technical negotiations failed; what is now available is accepting mediation with Ethiopia to build a smaller dam, form a fact finding committee, choose countries to arbitrate between [Egypt] and Ethiopia or refer to the International Court of Justice.”

Allam said, “In case all the aforementioned solutions are refused, Egypt has the right to resort to international organizations to stop the funding of the dam since there is a conflict. This can be done by presenting a memorandum to the UN affirming the historical rights of Egypt.”

“Egypt can also demand the UN and all its organizations stop the funding of the dam and issue a legal resolution drafted by the International Court of Justice regarding this conflict. The Egyptian government has also the right to go to to the UN Security Council to stress that this dam poses a threat to regional peace and security, as it threatens the future of an entire people,” Allam added.

He also noted, “No state can remain silent regarding risks threatening the people. Therefore we ought to take all the necessary international measures against Ethiopia, and we hope that the Security Council will consider our case, which represents a thirst crisis for 90 million Egyptians. According to Chapters VI and VII of the UN Charter, the Egyptian government has the right to resort to all means to put an end to this crisis. Thus, it has the right to take advantage of regional alliances, use soft power and threaten interests. All this is allowed under international law.”

A well-informed government source told Al-Monitor that the decision of the Specialized National Councils to recommend the referral of the matter to the UN was not supposed to be currently revealed, especially since this step was ostensibly put on hold and waiting for a decision within the presidency. This is not to mention the current circumstances Egypt is going through, as the presidential team was expected to study the case so it can be settled with the next president who will be elected in Egypt.

The source confirmed that the government of new Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb suggested to the presidency that a new round of negotiations be held with the Ethiopian side; the government of previous Prime Minister Hazem el-Biblawi had decided to escalate matters at international levels through visits to many countries and by exerting pressure to stop the funding of the dam and disrupt its construction. This suggestion also included an idea put forth by Mehleb, which is based on the principle of energy for water. This is a new initiative that will be proposed to the government of Addis Ababa, with its details to be revealed shortly afterward.

Egypt has internationalized the issue of the dam, but will it reach the International Court of Justice? This is the question that presents itself in light of the transitional phase Egypt is going through, where decision-makers are preoccupied with the presidential elections that are in the offing.

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Faces Of Africa – H.I.M Haile Selassie: The pillar of a modern Ethiopia (part 1)

Filed under: Emperor Hail selassie — ethiopiantimes @ 10:50 pm

March 23, 2014

Public Transport Bus Accident killed 8 People in Ethiopia

Filed under: Uncategorized — ethiopiantimes @ 2:05 pm
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March 22, 2014

Egyptian company discovers largest gold reserve in Ethiopia

Filed under: Gold — ethiopiantimes @ 7:41 pm
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Ethiopian GoldAddis Ababa, Ethiopia – An Egyptian company, Ascom Precious Metals Mining, has discovered what is said to be the largest gold ore reserve ever discovery in the history of gold exploration in Ethiopia.

The discovery is made in the Benishangul Gumuz Regional State, in south- west Ethiopia. Ascom has been prospecting for gold and base metals in the Benishangul region since 2010. Two weeks ago Ascom made a presentation to senior officials of the Ministry of Mines about the new discovery.

Tolossa Shagi Moti, Minister of Mines, told The Reporter that the ministry was happy with the discovery. “This is the largest gold discovery ever made in the country,” Tolossa said.

According to Tolossa, Ascom Mining will conduct a feasibility study and will start developing the mine. “We hope that the company will conduct the feasibility study and start production after one year,” the minister said. Tolossa said that the ministry will grant large-scale gold mining license to Ascom Mining after the company conducts the feasibility study.  The ministry declined to disclose the reserve of gold ore discovered.

“We have been talking about 30 or 40 tons of gold discoveries so far. What Ascom discovered is much more than that,” Tolossa said. Ascom is expected to announce the discovery in the coming few weeks.

Gold has become Ethiopia’s major foreign currency earner next to coffee. The country earns more than 600 million dollars from mineral exports and gold contributes 90 percent of the earning. To date, MIDROC Gold is the only company engaged in large-scale mining. MIDROC annually exports four tons of gold, mainly to Switzerland. MIDROC Gold has discovered a new gold reserve in the Sakaro locality.

March 20, 2014

Land grabbing in Ethiopia – foreign investors and famine

Filed under: Famin,Land grab — ethiopiantimes @ 11:21 pm
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Although one in 10 Ethiopians is going hungry, the government is leasing fertile land to foreign investors. Deutsche Welle spoke with Essayas Kebede from the Ethiopian government about so-called land grabbing.

farmers working land in Ethiopia Farmers cannot own land in Ethiopia, they must least it

Countries in Asia and the Gulf – such as China, India and Saudi Arabia – have rushed to foreign countries to buy farmland to grow crops for their own people. Food price inflation in recent years has highlighted the need for greater food security.

Africa has become a prime target, despite concerns about the impact on the world’s poorest people. Locals have nicknamed the practice “land grabbing.”

Essayas Kebede is the director of the Ethiopian government’s Agricultural Investment Agency and is responsible for the contractual agreements with foreign investors regarding Ethiopian farmland.

Deutsche Welle: Mr. Essayas, Ethiopia is experiencing a severe famine right now. Despite this, you have been tasked by the government to lease huge swaths of land to foreign companies. Critics have called this irresponsible. Are you acting in bad faith?

Essayas Kebede: Agriculture is the backbone of the Ethiopian economy. Fifteen million hectares of land are being worked by farmers and another 15 million are lying fallow. The Ethiopian government’s five-year development plan aims to increase the productivity of subsistence farmers, which is why we’ve turned our attention to commercial agriculture operations that can help our farmers increase their revenues.


The Gambella farm in Ethiopia The Gambella farm is the size of Luxemburg


Of the 15 million hectares of fallow land that I mentioned, we identified 3.6 million that are suitable for commercial farming. But for that we need investors. They can come from Ethiopia or from abroad, it doesn’t matter to us, but we urgently need capital and modern technology to increase our agricultural sector output. That way we can boost our foreign currency stocks and create jobs.

Are you saying that this policy can help solve Ethiopia’s hunger problems?

We have to increase productivity, but we also have to increase the buying power of our people. It’s the only way they are going to be able to afford food. The sale of goods produced on large farms will bring in desperately needed foreign currency, with which we can introduce modern production methods.

Ethiopian farmers are not allowed to own land, rather they lease it. Wouldn’t it be better to make life easier for them with microcredits, improved market access and roads than accommodating investors from India and China?

We are in the process now of regulating land ownership questions and have already granted the first land titles. Regarding infrastructure, the government has paved many kilometers of roads and built new ones. We have established government offices that support local farmers.

A full 85 percent of our population work as small farmers in rural areas and if we really want to stimulate the economy of our country, we have to improve the conditions our farmers live and work under. The foreign companies bring technology that helps our own farmers. Investors build bridges, schools and hospitals, and people here benefit from those.


Indian investors clearing Ethiopian land The Indian investors clear Ethiopian land, but who profits?


There are rumors that the Indian Karuturi Global company has leased the Gambella farm in the west of the country, which has 300,000 hectares of land, in order to push up its stock price on the Mumbai stock exchange. However, most of the farm is still lying fallow. Where is the technology you were talking about, as well as the schools, hospitals and all the jobs?

We signed an agreement with Karuturi and they are working on it. Developing farmland doesn’t happen overnight. We want to help investors have successful relationships with us.

But the success doesn’t seem to be happening. You have already threatened to take back 200,000 hectares if there is no significant progress within two years. Something has obviously gone wrong. How much time does Karuturi have?

When the time comes, we will sit down together. The clearing of vegetation takes time and right now, we can’t really judge Karuturi’s performance. He has two years to cultivate the first 100,000 hectares and then one year for an additional 50,000.


Karuturi spokesman Birinder Singh Karuturi spokesman Birinder Singh call the land deal a “win-win” situation


To increase the food supply in the country, at least part of the harvest has to be sold on the local market. Was that a stipulation in the contracts with the big multinationals?

It’s not our task to take revenue away from investors. As I said, we want to increase the purchasing power of our people so that they can afford to buy corn from Karuturi. If the investors can get a good price here in this country, they will sell here.

Four decades after Ethiopia’s first famine, your country is suffering again. Has the government done enough to try to break this vicious circle of hunger and poverty?

There are 1.2 billion people suffering from hunger around the world. It’s a growing, global problem and we are part of a globalized world. If it rains less in Europe, we feel it here. You see, in the 70s we had a population of 25 million, today it’s 80 million. So hunger is not as widespread as it was then and today our food reserves are higher. In the 70s, the government didn’t have the situation under control. The current administration, however, knows what it’s doing. In fact, the chances are good that Ethiopia will be able to contribute to the global food supply in the future. We have enough land.

Interviewer: Ludger Schadomsky (jam)
Editor: Rob Mudge

March 19, 2014

6 More Fearless Black Female Warriors You Should Know

warriors taitu

Empress Taitu Bitul of Ethiopia (1851 – February 11, 1918)

Empress Taitu was the loyal wife of Emperor Menelik II. She was considered a brilliant military strategist, a commander and an advisor to her husband. Taitu’s relationship with Emperor Menelik was one of mutual respect, independence, trust and reciprocity. Taitu played a key role in halting European’s plot to colonize Ethiopia when she advised her husband to reject the Treaty of Wuchale (May 2, 1889) between Italy and Ethiopia.

The Italian translation of article 17 of the treaty would have made Ethiopia Italy’s protectorate. In contrast, the Amharic version recognized the sovereignty of Ethiopia and its relationship with Italy as just a diplomatic partnership.

Taitu’s advice lead to Menelik tearing up the Wuchale Treaty, which then lead to Italy waging war in what became know as the First Italo–Ethiopian War or the 1896 Battle of Adwa. Taitu reportedly marched north with the Emperor and the Imperial Army, commanding a force of cannoneers.

According to the research of Profesor Ayele Bekerie, Taitu’s strategy helped Ethiopia soundly defeat Italy during the Battle of Mekelle.

“At the Battle of Mekelle, she advised Ras Mekonen to cut off the water supply to the Italians in order to disgorge them from their entrenched and heavily fortified positions at Endeyesus Hill on the eastern part of Mekelle City. Taitu was also the receiver and analyzer of intelligence information collected by spies, such as Basha Awalom Haregot and Gebre Igziabher. Historians characterize the intelligence data obtained by Awalom and Gebre Igzabher as crucial importance to the Ethiopian victory at the battle.”

warrior amina

Amina Queen of Zaria (d. 1610)

Amina was a Hausa Muslim warrior queen of  Zazzua, a province of Nigeria now known as Zaria. Amina became queen after her younger brother Karama died. During her brother’s rule, it was believed that Amina was honing her military skills.

Three months after taking power, Amina set off on her first military expedition. In her thirty-four year reign, she expanded the domain of Zazzua to its largest size ever. Her focus, however, was not on the annexation of neighboring lands, but on forcing local rulers to accept vassal status and permit Hausa traders safe passage.

Amina according to is “credited with popularizing the earthen city wall fortifications,” which became characteristic of Hausa city-states since then. She ordered building of a defensive wall around each military camp that she established.

“Later, towns grew within these protective walls, many of which are still in existence. They’re known as ‘ganuwar Amina,’ or Amina’s walls. She is mostly remembered as “Amina, Yar Bakwa ta san rana,” meaning ‘Amina, daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man.’”

warrior kuti

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (October 25, 1900 – April 13, 1978

Kuti was a teacher, political campaigner, and women’s rights activist who headed the Abeokuta Women’s Union (AWU) in southwest Nigeria. The purpose of the union was to organize the working class market woman and the middle class women against both colonial rule and the patriarchal structure.

In Abeokuta, located in southwest Nigeria, colonial taxation by the British emerged as an unfair practice that predominantly targeted women. Nearly a year after numerous proposals to the Egba King (Alake of Egbaland), Oba Ademola II were met with little change, Kuti lead thousands of women in protest in the Abeokuta Women’s Revolt outside of the king’s palace.

The response from the colonial authorities was brutal. The police force utilized tear gas and beatings on the women.

Despite the dangerous circumstances, the AWU continued to protest and released a document called the AWU’s Grievances in 1947 that detailed all their accusations against the Alake and the SNA. Following the list of grievances, the women once again held a demonstration outside the Alake’s palace from November 29, 1947, until the morning of November 30. There were over ten thousand women in attendance.

In the end, their demands were met, leading to the abdication of the King in 1949, the SNA system was changed, and four women had positions in the new system of administration.

Ransome-Kuti’s political activism led to her being described as the doyen of female rights in Nigeria and was regarded as “The Mother of Africa.”  These uprisings were among the earliest campaigns against British rule in Nigeria and West Africa during the colonial era.

Kuti was the mother of the world’s celebrated musician, King of Afrobeats and political activists Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

warrior nehanda

Nehanda Mbuya Nehanda a.k.a Charwe Nyakasikana (c. 1840-1898)

Charwe Nyakasikana was a Shona spirit medium also called Mbuya Nehanda, meaning grandmother Nehanda. She played an important role in mobilizing the Black masses against white rule in what is now popularly referred to as the First Chimurenga which took place between 1886 and 1897. Along with her messengers, Nehanda traveled from village to village encouraging the people to rise up and fight against the colonizers. While predicting that the people would not conquer the colonial masters at this time, she still called for a stand to be taken against the colonizers’ curtailment of rights and freedoms.

Upon realizing her influence, the colonial forces decided to take action against Nehanda. A death warrant issued against her states that during a criminal session of the High Court, held on March 2 1898, Nehanda was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging. The warrant goes on to give the scheduled date of Nehanda’s execution as the 27th of April 1898. The execution is said to have taken place at the Gaol (Jail) of Salisbury.

It is claimed that it took three attempts before Nehanda eventually succumbed to her death. But before she did, she prophesied that her bones would rise again; a reference used by the guerrillas in resistance songs during the war for independence, commonly referred to as the Second Chimurenga. Some researchers state that the British forces immediately buried the bodies at an undisclosed site to avoid their being exhumed and reburied.


THE THREE QUEENS OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS – Queen Mary, Agnes & Matilda (1800s)

Three former enslaved Blacks led a labor revolt in the Danish Virgin Islands, now the U.S. Virgin Islands in the late 1800s. Queen Mary, Queen Agnes and Queen Matilda were immortalized as sculptors on a fountain located on a hill above the city of Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas. The women are shown standing back to back forming a triangle.

A plaque below the statue reads:

“In 1878 three former slave ladies on St. Croix led an insurrection against the Danish Government for improved working and living conditions. During this action a major portion of Frederiksted was destroyed by fire. This revolt is known today as ‘FIREBURN’ and the ladies are renowned as “Queen Mary, Queen Agnes and Queen Matilda” – The Three Queens of the Virgin Islands.”

warrior kenya

Mekatilili wa Menza (d. 1925)

Mekatilili wa Menza may have been in the freedom struggle scene for a short time, but her contribution in raising the African consciousness among the Giriama people of the Coastal Kenya was immense.

Mekatilili was one of the first women in Kenya to rise up against the British in 1913. Her bravery, oratorical power and charisma earned her a huge following and saw her mobilize the Giriama to take oaths and offer sacrifices to restore their sovereignty.

Initially, her concern was the breakdown of the Giriama culture amid British influence and she pushed for a return to the traditional Giriama governance system. By extension, it created resistance to the authority of the British and the appointed headmen, the latter whom she accused of betraying the Giriama for rewards.

Mekatilili was particularly against the issue of labor recruitment. At the time, the British were putting increasing economic pressure on the Giriama, through taxation, attempts to control trade in palm wine and ivory, and by the recruitment of young men to work on plantations and public works projects.

Mekatilili’s anguish was over the growing disintegration of the Giriama, so she called upon her people to save their sons and daughters from getting lost in the British ways.

While her rebellion lasted for only one year, from 1913 to 1914, it had considerable impact on the relations between the British and the locals.

Despite her exploits, Mekatilili, who died in 1925 at the age of 70, was not recognized among Kenyan freedom fighters until October 20, 2010, the first ‘Mashujaa’ (Heroes) Day, when her statue was unveiled at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi — renamed Mekatilili wa Menza Garden — in her honor.

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