Web Culture

Google Honors Kenyan Wonder Woman Mekatilili wa Menza 

Mekatilili wa Menza
Image Courtesy CNN

Google has always been known to celebrate heroes on their homepage with Doodles. On this special day in Kenyan history, Google honours Mekatilili wa Menza. The Kenyan ‘Wonder Woman’.

Mekatilili wa Menza

Google Doodle Honours Mekatilili wa Menza

The company began honouring people, events, anniversaries, and holidays with Doodles and the tradition lives on to date. Since then, we have seen a lot of special people up on that pedestal.

For example:

  • Margaret Ogola, the award-winning author, medical doctor, and human rights advocate.
  • Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize winner and world-renowned environmentalist
  • South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba
  • Stephen Keshi, former captain and coach of the Super Eagles, Nigeria’s national football team.

In the same light, today the Kenyan war hero stands strong. Mekatilili wa Menza is one of Kenya’s first freedom fighters. We know her in different ways but most notably as the inspiration for the Giriama people to resist colonial rule in the early 20th century.

Mekatilili’s History

Mekatilili (also known as Mnyazi) wa Menza was born in the Giriama village of Matsara wa Tsatsu. She really is wonder woman when you think of all the good she did. Her most renowned feat is organizing her people against the British colonial rule at a time when women’s power was limited within her society.

Menza travelled from village to village rallying Giriama people to fight against the oppression of the British settlers. We remember her for performing the native dance of kifudu (the Giriama funeral dance). This was used to draw large crowds and then unleashing her powerful oratory skills to garner support and encourage her tribe to resist and swear oaths.

Her leadership contributed to uprisings by the Giriama against the British in 1913 and 1914. The British ultimately relaxed control of the region, effectively granting the demands for which Menza and the Giriama had tirelessly fought.

Google’s Take

There is a lot we can say about her but for now, we are just glad Google is taking notice of some of our pre-colonial heroes. Google Head of Communications and Public Affairs in Africa, Dorothy Ooko states

“Doodles provide a way for Google to connect with its users. They help them celebrate important moments and national heroes,”

“Today, we honour Mekatilili wa Menza, the Giriama Wonder Woman with a heart that was full of passion. Passion for freedom. Freedom against the oppressors of her people. We remember that her resistance quest led to her imprisonment in a far land in western Kenya. We remember her 965-kilometre walk to get back to her land after escaping from the prison.”

Normally at the Kenyan coast, they commemorate the resilient legacy of Menza with festivities. Popularly known as the Malindi Cultural Festival, it is an annual celebration of local history and pride.

However, the celebrations may not take place this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. But now we have Google to thank for letting the whole world join in the celebrations.

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