By Timothy Simwa.
Elizabeth Wangui Kimunya, the elderly woman from Eldoret in Uasin Gishu County whose picture went viral during the 2007/2008 post-election violence in Kenya, is dead.
Wangui died aged 76 last Saturday (July 6) 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 say 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 late 20s, 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.
The middle-aged man’s only plea to the County Government of Uasin Gishu is that it helps his family foot Wangui’s medical bills and arrange her funeral.
Wangui’s neighbours described her as “a strong woman” whose willpower was “significantly affected” by the trauma she suffered 12 years ago.
Wangui will be laid to rest at her Kiambaa home in Uasin Gishu County on Friday, July 12.
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 septuagenarian Elizabeth Wangui Kimunya.
In tears, her hands lifted in the air and her face communicating undoubted torment, 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.