HONOURED

Google celebrates Giriama 'wonder woman' Mekatilili wa Menza

Menza was compelled to organise her people against British colonial control.

In Summary

• Menza is considered a prophetess among the Giriama.

• Menza travelled from village to village spreading messages of opposition, performing the ecstatic native dance of kifudu to draw large crowds.

Google on Sunday celebrated Mekatilili wa Menza, known for inspiring the Giriama people to resist colonial rule, one of Kenya’s first freedom fighters.
Google on Sunday celebrated Mekatilili wa Menza, known for inspiring the Giriama people to resist colonial rule, one of Kenya’s first freedom fighters.
Image: GOOGLE

Google on Sunday celebrated Mnyazi wa Menza (Mekatilili Wa Menza), the Kenyan female leader who led the Giriama people in a rebellion against the British Colonial Administration between 1912 – 1915.

She became Mekatilili after the birth of her first son Katilili. 

Menza is considered a prophetess among the Giriama.

The Kenya National Heroes Council Amb Yvonne Khamati said the recognition of  Menza by Google goes along in reinforcing what they believe in as Kenya National Heroes Council and a country.

"We believe our Heroes deserve better.They have played their part in nation building. We must affirm them at all times so that we can inculcate the culture of Heroism; the culture of service," Khamati said.

"We shall ensure more of our female heroines are unearthed, highlighted and feted. Other than giving birth to many celebrated our women were at the fore front of our liberation, our struggles and our future remains solely in their hands.That is the spirit of the Kenya National Heroes Act,2014 and what we stand for as a Council."

 
 

Today on the Kenyan coast, the resilient legacy of Menza is commemorated during the festivities of the traditional Malindi Cultural Festival, an annual celebration of local history and pride. 

Mnyazi wa Menza was born in the Giriama village of Matsara wa Tsatsu in coastal Kenya during the mid-19th century.

By the early 20th century, British colonial rule had threatened the sovereignty and freedom of the Giriama people with forced labour and taxation.

At a time when women’s power was limited within her society, Menza was compelled to organise her people against colonial control. 

Menza travelled from village to village spreading messages of opposition, performing the ecstatic native dance of kifudu to draw large crowds and then unleashing her powerful oratory skills to garner support.

Menza’s leadership contributed to uprisings by the Giriama against the British in 1913 and 1914, and despite her multiple arrests and imprisonments, her campaign of resistance proved successful.

The British ultimately relaxed control of the region, effectively granting the demands for which Menza and the Giriama had fought tirelessly for.