By Timothy Simwa.
Post-poll chaos survivor, Elizabeth Wangui Kimunya, was on Friday, July 12, laid to rest at her Kiambaa home in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County in a low-key ceremony.
Wangui, who was photographed outside Kiambaa Church during the 2007/2008 post-election violence in Kenya, died aged 83 last Saturday, July 6.
Only tens of mourners attended the elderly woman’s final send-off.
Speakers at the burial ceremony expressed their disappointment at how Elizabeth Wangui was neglected by the State after the 2007/2008 post-election skirmishes.
The mourners claimed Elizabeth Wangui suffered trauma from her Kiambaa experience, and ought to have been adequately counselled before being reintegrated into the community.
The grieving group further accused politicians of fueling ethnic divisions and animosity. The mourners urged Kenyan leaders to always look back at what happened in 2007 before making inflammatory statements on public platforms.
Elizabeth Wangui died last week at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret.
Until her demise, the elderly woman was allegedly battling mental disorder, with her family members saying she developed the condition as a result of trauma that she was subjected to during the ugly 2007/2008 post-election chaos.
Wangui’s relatives said her health deteriorated in the last two months.
The deceased’s only child, Philip Kimunya, however, told K24 Digital that the elderly woman was being treated for depression and hypertension.
Kimunya, who is in his 30s, says his mother never received any psychological counseling after witnessing Kiambaa Church go up in flames. At least 30 people, who had sought refuge in the building, died.
Wangui’s neighbours described her as “a strong woman” whose willpower was “significantly affected” by the trauma she suffered 12 years ago.
When Kenya was plunged into political, economic and humanitarian crisis in 2007 after the disputed presidential polls, many pictures found their way to top pages of the Kenyan and international media.
However, one received extensive and repeated coverage across the board – that of octogenarian Elizabeth Wangui Kimunya.
In tears, her hands lifted in the air and her face communicating undoubted torment, Elizabeth Wangui – arguably – became the face of the ugly post-poll skirmishes that left 1, 100 people dead and at least 600, 000 displaced from their homes.
The elderly woman’s powerful picture has – and will continue to remain as a key reminder to Kenyans and other democracies world over that war leaves ugly permanent scars – both literal and metaphorical – on people.