These stunning new images celebrate a Kenyan female icon who stood up to colonialists

Instagram/Rich Allela

A stunning series of photos has been released to commemorate a Kenyan icon who challenged colonialism in the early 1900s.

Mnyazi wa Menza, known as Mekatilili wa Menza, lived in Kenya between the 1840s and 1924.

CNNreport that she was renowned for her fierce reputation and was strongly opposed the to British colonial masters of the era.

One story from the period claims she slapped one Brit during a heated argument in August 1913.

Now her legacy has been immortalised in a series of images, taken by photographers Rich Allela and Kureng Dapel, which capture what her life would have been like and the values she stood for.

Mekatilili defied the British, who she felt were exploiting her people for labour and were charging too much for tax.

She believed in in traditional religious practices and preserving native traditions.

She was famous for her dancing ability and is described as "the widow who beat the British through ecstatic dance."

As well as protecting Kenyan values, she also protested the conscription of local men, who were sent to World War I to fight for Britain.

Her protests did not make her popular with the Brits who are said to have referred to her as a "witch" and was eventually exiled from her community in October 1913, only for her to return five years later.

Speaking to CNN about the project, Allela said:

[It] represents the strength of womanhood, and inspires the African woman to rise above the inequality and discrimination faced every day.

Today Mekatilili's acts of bravery and defiance are remembered in Kenya.

A statute of her has been erected in the Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi and the garden it is homed in has also been named Mekatilili wa Menza Gardens.


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