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Mau Mau's Daughter: A Life History

Wambui Waiyaki Otieno, edited and with an introduction by Cora AnnPresley
ISBN: 978-1-55587-722-4
ISBN: 978-1-58826-150-2
1998/258 pages/LC: 98-10980

"Otieno's autobiography is a rare and important historical document in its own right, yet it is also a fascinating essay on the ills of Kenya's modern state."—David M. Anderson, The Journal of African History

"Underlying this very moving story are the two themes of, first, the relationship between Christianity and Kikuyu and Luo tradition and religion, and, second, the problems and position of women in the long and anguished record of imperialism and post-imperialism.... All of it is worth reading."—Jon Davies, Journal of Modern African Studies

“This is an unbelievable story, an amazing text, at once readable and riveting.”—Louise White

"A fascinating and very readable account that would be of interest to general audiences and African specialists alike."—Choice


Wambui Waiyaki Otieno, Kenyan activist and wife of the late S.M. Otieno, recounts her involvement in nearly a half-century of East African politics: her years in the Mau Mau movement, her role in women’s organizations under the Kenyatta and the Moi regimes, and the controversy surrounding her husband’s burial. Her personal narratives and anecdotes paint not only a detailed self-portrait, but also an intimate picture of both colonial and postcolonial Kenya.

Cora Presley’s introduction and extensive notes enhance the account, making it accessible to nonspecialists.


The late Wambui Waiyaki Otieno was a noted speaker on both Kenyan politics and women in development. Cora Presley is associate professor of African American Studies at Georgia State University; her previous publications include Kikuyu Women, the Mau Mau Rebellion, and Social Change in Kenya.


  • Foreword—A. Odhiambo.
  • Introduction: Memory Is a Weapon.
  • Family Origins.
  • Childhood.
  • Early Days in the Mau Mau Movement.
  • Party Politics in Nairobi.
  • Girl Detainee.
  • Release and Marriage.
  • Politics and Gender.
  • S.M. Otieno’s Death and Joash Otieno’s Betrayal.
  • The Burial Saga.
  • S.M. Otieno’s Biography.
  • State Trickery.
  • Planting the Seeds of Freedom.