Tiras Murage Kimathi, the first person to capture Dedan Kimathi’s picture after his arrest in 1956, has died at the age of 90.
Larry Walters, the husband of Eunice Wangechi, daughter of renowned photographer Peter Murage and a US citizen, said that Mr Murage passed away on Friday.
“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,” he said.
Mr Murage is known for having taken a photo of Mau Mau leader Dedan Kimathi just before he was arrested by police in October 1956.
The man was beaten by a White officer who repeatedly hit him with the butt of his gun. The officer would have shot the man dead had a fellow officer not stopped him from doing so.
Although the two Kimathis weren’t related, they were close friends before independence—Mr Murage took mathematics lessons from anti-colonialism fighter Dedan Kimathi at Ihururu primary school.
Retired forester Mr Murage enjoyed spending time admiring the beauty of nature and had worked for several conservation departments.
He actually worked in the forest department in Embu when the State of Emergency was declared, and he was moved to Kabege forest in Ihururu.
So close was he to Dedan Kimathi that one day, at his workstation in Ihururu, he received a letter from his old teacher asking him to deliver stationery and postage stamps to aid the Mau Mau war effort. Dedan Kimathi then ordered his former pupil to burn the letter after reading it.
Murage later became a forester at the Karura Forest Station, where he helped care for trees at the Arboretum. Among those he worked with at Karura was the late Prof Wangari Mathai, who became Kenya’s first female Nobel Peace Prize winner.