When you mention the name Dedan Kimathi, only one image comes to the minds of many people, in Kenya and around the world.
Kenya loses photographer behind iconic photo of Dedan Kimathi
The photographer was a namesake and Mathematics student of Dedan Kimathi before the struggle for independence.
The world-famous photo of Kimathi was taken by Tiras Kimathi Murage shortly after the freedom fighter’s arrest in 1956.
The family of Murage has now announced that the veteran photographer and conservationist breathed his last on January 15, 2022.
“On behalf of the family, I wanted to inform you that he passed away on Friday at age 90. Dad was in declining health for some time due to heart issues. It was not Covid-related. We are still working on the funeral details,” Murage’s son-in-law told the media.
In a past interview with Nation, the deceased recalled seeing Kimathi just after the shooting where many locals from Kahiga-ini in Nyeri County had gathered.
After years of coordinating the Kenya's freedom struggle on the Mau Mau front, Dedan was shot by one of the home guards patrolling the Aberdares.
This marked the end of a man-hunt that had claimed many casualties as colonial authorities tried to stem the liberation movement.
After striking a short conversation with Kimathi who lay on th ground nursing a gunshot wound, Murage clicked away and captured the legendary freedom fighter on his Kodak.
In the photo, Kimathi was wearing a heavy leopard hide, with matching headgear.
“Kimathi smiled and I clicked the button. I got maybe two pictures, and the next thing I knew, I was lying on the ground, being kicked,” he recalled, explaining that a colonial soldier did not appreciate his presence around the MauMau leader.
His camera was confiscated, only to find the image on the newspapers the following day.
Before Murage’s age got the better of him, he would spend his days admiring nature, a love bug that had bitten him during his days at the Kenya Forest department in Embu.
Other than the historic photo, his contribution to Kenya’s history lives on in Nairobi Arboretum, Karura Forest and Kamiti Forest where he led conservation efforts.
“Prof Wangari Mathai visited my Karura Station to purchase seedlings, lectured to her on the then-ongoing Nairobi Greenbelt Programme, hence got the initiative for her Greenbelt-Movement,” reads a section of Murage’s CV.
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