Esther Waitherero death would have gone unnoticed if she wasn’t related to Kenya’s third president, the late Mwai Kibaki. While her brother was wealthy and enjoyed the trappings of power for decades, she-on the other hand-lived a modest lifestyle. The only surviving sibling of the former president passed away aged 115 years at her Gatuyaini home in Othaya, Nyeri County.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
Esther Waitherero was born in a family of eight children, three girls and five boys. She was 10 years older than Kibaki. Growing up she was tasked with taking care of the future president and the other brother, Bernard Nderitu. During a past interview with the Standard newspaper, she narrated how she witnessed the birth of Kibaki.
“I still remember the day he was born (November 15, 1931). It was early in the morning before the sun rose. Our mother had woken up early to milk the cows but she could not finish. She went into labor and the boy was born,” she explained.
She took care of Kibaki and Nderitu when the mother would go to the shamba. She would roast mitahato (bananas), chew them until they were soft before feeding them.
She never got a chance to go to school but she vividly remembers the first day Kibaki first joined school.
“Our father, Kibaki Githinji, believed that there was more value for his sons in looking after livestock other than going to school. It took the intervention of Village elders in order to release Kibaki to join school in 1939. My mother wept and we all wept. We did not want him to go away from home because Kibaki was liked by everyone. My mother even said he was too small to walk the distance to school, but our father’s word was final,” she narrated.
Their mother went to a tailor at Othaya market and buy Kibaki a pair of khaki short and a shirt at a total cost of 50 cents. The dad paid school fees amounting to 50 cents which facilitated Kibaki to join Gatuyaini Primary School and later Karima School.
Living a modest life
Kibaki’s sister, like her other siblings, lived a modest lifestyle. Her house was made of timber and it did not really stand out.
On Thursday 14th July 2022, Waitherero’s son Francis Githinji confirmed the death of his mother. She passed away at around 9.20am at her home. She survived by four children, three sons and a daughter although she had a total of seven children but three have since died. Following the news, President Uhuru Kenyatta has mourned her stating that she was a strong woman of faith, role model and heroine of Kenya’s struggle for independence.
“It is sad that we’ve lost one of our country’s few remaining frontline independence agitators. Mama Waitherero paid a dear price for Kenya’s freedom when she lost her husband in the Mau Mau uprising against colonial rule. As a grateful Kenyan nation, we owe a debt of gratitude to Mama Waitherero and her generation of strong women who fought alongside their male peers in our country’s liberation struggle,” read part of the statement.
Laikipia county governor Ndiritu Muriithi, who is Waitherero’s nephew, revealed that a family meeting will be held later this week to plan her burial ceremony.