World Church Team: Mamma Harriet – An AppreciationMarch 24, 2017
It was with great sadness that we at Max West heard in November of the death of Harriet Mwihaki Wanjohi, Maitu Wa Witikio, Mother of Faith, known to all as “Mamma Harriet”. She passed away peacefully at the age of 106. Mamma Harriet was the rock on which her local church in Mathia, our partner church, was built. Her influence was immense and she was greatly respected and loved by all whose lives were touched by her.
In her professional life, Mamma Harriet was a nurse. She married a local doctor who later became the hospital administrator. They built their house in Mathia and tended their shamba. Mamma Harriet was most generous and she donated plots of land to the church. Wilson dedicated and blessed such a plot during our visit in 2009. But above all it was her unshakeable faith that shone through all that she did. Her funeral was held in Mathia at the beginning of December. The congregation was expected to exceed 2000 people, with the ex-president of Kenya, Daniel Moi, a great personal friend of Mamma Harriet, in attendance. I feel sure her funeral must have been a joyous and uplifting occasion. Mamma Harriet and her husband had six children, many more grandchildren and even more great and great-great grandchildren. One of their grandchildren is Catherine Ndreba, “Catherine the Great”, marathon world record holder.
Mamma Harriet had a special place in her heart for Scotland, having been brought to Christianity by Scottish missionaries. I want to share with you something that happened whilst Heather and I were staying with Mamma. We were most honoured guests. Prior to, and during our first week in Kenya, the country had been experiencing a severe drought. Rain was urgently needed. Mamma Harriet’s house has a corrugated tin roof and at night, in the pitch black, we lay in bed listening to the bush babies – at least we think they were bush babies – we hoped they were bush babies – dancing on the roof. Then one night at around 3am., there was the sound of a skip-load of pebbles being dumped on the tin roof. Yes, the rains had arrived!
The author of the “No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” books, Alexander McCall Smith, describes the coming of the rain like this in “Blue Shoes and Happiness”: “…..When the rains came, of course, then everything would be different and the brown which covered the land, the trees, the stunted grass, would be replaced by green, by growth, by tendrils stretching out, by leaves unfolding. It would happen so quickly that one might go to bed in a drought and wake up in a landscape of shimmering patches of water and cattle washed sleek by the rain…..” Well we went to bed in the dark in drought, but we rose in the dark as the rain hammered on the roof. We gathered in Mamma’s living room – Mamma Harriet, Alice, her housekeeper, Caro, our translator, Heather and me. We stood in a circle holding hands and sang one of Mamma’s, and my, favourite hymns – “What a friend we have in Jesus.” Five people from different continents, different countries, different backgrounds, different cultures, different languages, but it mattered not one bit: we were praising God’s goodness, love and care for us all. We were of one faith, “People of the Way.”
God bless you Mamma Harriet and thank you for allowing us to be a part of your life. Rest in peace, you good and faithful servant. D J, World Church Team
Christmas Gift Catalogue
Grateful thanks for everyone who donated to our Alternative Gift Appeal. We have had an excellent support this year and as you know every pound donated goes towards our projects. We could not have achieved the progress for Mathia and Bondo without your support.