Dr.Wanjiru Kihoro’s brave battle from the coma which she has been fighting since January, 24 2003 came to an end at 10pm on Thursday October 12 at Kenyatta National Hospital. Dr. Kihoro went into a coma following the Busia plane crash in which three people were killed. A distinguished economist, Dr. Wanjiru Kihoro graduated from Columbia University and went on to earn an MA in Development Studies and a PhD at Leeds University. Over the years she gained the respect and admiration of many for her dedication to matters of gender, equality, justice and democracy.
A long time London resident, Dr. Kihoro was one of the founders of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners in Kenya formed in 1982. The Committee fought to highlight the plight of university lecturers, students and other so-called “dissidents” incarcerated in various Kenyan maximum security prisons. Largely as a result of the Committee’s pressure, most of the prisoners were adopted by Amnesty International and other international human rights organisations as prisoners of conscience.
In her capacity as Director of ABANTU for Development, Dr. Kihoro garnered an international reputation as one of the most recognised names in the African feminist movement. Her organisation held numerous workshops, seminars and training sessions in East, Central and Southern Africa. She was also a keynote speaker at various international conferences in Europe and North America.
Previously, Dr. Kihoro worked at the Africa Centre in London and other organisations including the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), the National Christian Council of Kenya and the United Church Board for World Ministries.
She was an OXFAM trustee (1994-2001), a member of the Debt Campaign Network, a member of The Nelson Mandela Reception Committee and a founder member of Akina Mama wa Afrika among many other organisations and groups. She was also awarded the Hansib Award for Services to the black community.
Further information on Dr. Wanjiru Kihoro can be found on Daudi’s tribute and also here. As Daudi writes, Dr. Kihoro was, among other things, ‘an activist, feminist, patriot, visionary, leader, friend. An inspiration and example for all Kenyans’.
Dr. Kihoro was the daughter of Onesmus Matenjwa and Elizabeth Wanjiru Matenjwa, she was married to Wanyiri Kihoro, former MP for Nyeri and was a mother of 4 – Kui, Pambi, Amandla and Mim and the mother-in-law of Mich. She had 5 sisters and 1 brother – Wanjiku, Njeri, Wahu, Nish, Wambui, Boss and the sister-in-law of Sam and the late Waithera. She was the aunt of Maggy, Mwangi, Kihoro, Beth, Fidel, the two Tesh’s, Kui and Nyokabi among others and the cousin of Father Matenjwa.