Mama Ngina Kenyatta is among 15 women who were on Friday night identified as the foremost heroines of Africa.
She was recognised as an icon for the role she played in Kenya’s pre-independence struggle and eventual emancipation from the painful yoke of colonialism. Mama Ngina is the mother of President Uhuru Kenyatta. The 15 heroines who included Liberian President madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Malawi Head of State Joyce Banda and former President Mandela’s wife Winnie Madikizela Mandela were feted as “living legends “ during the African Women of Excellence Awards ceremony at Sandton, South Africa. First Lady Margaret Kenyatta received the award on behalf of Mama Ngina during the colourful gala-cum-dinner ceremony where each of the awardees was praised in recognition of her incredible sacrifices and contributions to society outside the usual call of duty. The “living Legends” award recognises the continent’s unsung heroines especially those who have previously participated in the liberation of Africa either socially or politically amongst other challenges for the betterment of the African people.
Mama Ngina was recognised for her role during Kenya’s freedom struggle including serving a jail term alongside other gallant Kenyans who were opposed to British domination and oppression during the many years of Kenya’s colonialism.
After independence where the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta became the first President of Kenya, Mama Ngina became the most popular woman in the country and was accepted and referred to as the mother of the nation.
Other elderly heroines recognised as gallant icons included Chief Mrs Dorothy Chinyere Anyiam, Mrs Ruth Sando Perry (Liberia), African Union chairperson Dr Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma, and former wife of former South African President the late Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela Mandela. The other category of the heroines comprised slightly younger women who have also made significant contributions in their respective fields including health, medical, political, education and justice. They included Dr Saida Agrebi of Tunisia, Dr Arikana Chihombori from Zimbabwe, Mandela’s widow Mrs Graca Machel, Hon Justice Victoria Okobi (Nigeria), Nana Konadu (Ghana), Mrs Salma Salifu also from Ghana and Dr Julitte Tuakli of triple heritage between Africa and America. Accepting the award, the First Lady said Mama Ngina had during the pre-independence struggle stood up for her people and boldly faced the hardships and struggles that befall those who envision a better life for their brothers and sisters.
“It was not an easy walk to freedom for Mama Ngina because separating a mother and her children is like depriving her of her soul and breath. Yet, our proud mother braved the pain and humiliation of imprisonment because, like the proverbial giraffe, she looked forward to a brighter future”, said the First Lady.
She said Mama Ngina joined in the freedom struggle because she envisioned a country where children of whatever colour and social background would have equal access to free universal education and where all the people would have access to clean water and renewable clean energy. “From the darkness of her incarceration, Mama Ngina looked forward to a time when all women would be treated as equals and where colour and ethnicity would not be used to gauge an individual’s potential and opportunities in life”, added the First Lady. The First Lady said the whole of Africa had since realised this futuristic dream of its fathers and mothers. “And though we have not yet reached our destination, we are well on our way towards achieving that which the founders of Africa dreamt of, Mama Ngina among them”, said Mrs Kenyatta. The First Lady was accompanied to South Africa by daughter Ngina Kenyatta and Ms Nyokabi Gathecha.