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LAST BOW

Post-election violence survivor Elizabeth Wangui breathes her last

In Summary

• Wangui had since December 31, 2007, been suffering from depression

• The 76- year-old mother of one never received the Sh400,000 the government had promised to pay her as compensation

Phillip Kimunya (R) and his cousin Phillip Gakuha hold the picture of Elizabeth Wangui Kimunya. Wangui, a survivor of the Assemblies of Church in the 2007-08 post-election violence, died last weekend at MTRH, Eldoret.
NEVER AGAIN: Phillip Kimunya (R) and his cousin Phillip Gakuha hold the picture of Elizabeth Wangui Kimunya. Wangui, a survivor of the Assemblies of Church in the 2007-08 post-election violence, died last weekend at MTRH, Eldoret.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

Elizabeth Wangui Kimunya, one of the oldest survivors of the Kiambaa church fire incident in the 2007-08 post-election violence will be buried on Friday. 

But only if her family raised enough money to pay for her hospital bill and burial expenses by Thursday evening.

 

Wangui died last Saturday at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret. She had been suffering from depression, according to Phillip Kimunya, her only son who was 16 at the time of the Kiambaa church fire horror.

The photograph of a wailing Wangui outside the burning Assemblies of God Church with her hands raised, went viral internationally. She survived, but not 35 of her compatriots who had sought refuge in the house of God.

She escaped after her son kicked open the door of the church which had been padlocked from outside.

“Ours has been a life of hand to mouth but we thank God we survived. My mother has been ailing since then mainly because of depression and other health challenges until she died on Saturday,”  Kimunya said yesterday.

Kimunya said that his mother had been in and out of hospital for 10 years.

He has been struggling to offset her bill, relying mainly on well-wishers. 

Wangui's condition deteriorated in May last year. It became worse a week ago, hence her admission to MTRH, Kimunya said.

 

Kimunya himself bears the scars of the December 31, 2007, incident on his hands and legs.

His mother has been in the forefront, preaching peace. She prayed that the country will never to see a repeat of what happened 12 years ago. She never recovered the trauma.

“My mother thought I had died in the fire. She later found me at the referral hospital where I had been admitted.”  Their home was razed.  They returned only after the International Organisation of Migrations (IOM) built a semi-permanent house for them.

 Kimunya says the government had promised to pay his mother Sh400,000 compensation. She only received Sh50,000.

“She travelled to Nairobi many times but never got the money. She gave up as depression took the toll on her health.

“My mother suffered from depression. She most of the time opted to be alone and was always in deep thoughts,” Kimunya, who was accompanied by his cousin Phillip Gakuha said.

Gakuha said his aunt always talked about peace and reconciliation. “She frequently asked us to tell Kenyans not to light fires again because she didn’t want the church fire incident repeated anywhere.” 

He appealed to the government to help her family.

Eldoret was the epicentre of the 2007-2008 post-election violence which left 1,133 people dead and more than 600,000 displaced.