Kimbo Mutuku: The Making Of A rebel


Kimbo Mutuku — Mau Mau general known for his cattle raids; commander of the Mburu Ngebo Army (Rift Valley warriors) in Nyandarua and treasurer of the Kenya Parliament.

Njama describes him as “a young black tall [man of] medium thickness… dressed in a KAR Libyan cloth suit. His head was covered by long black wool woven into his hair, falling below his shoulders.” A close ally of General Mathenge. He was captured and sentenced to death in 1956.

Macharia Kimemia — Mau Mau general who was “Kimathi’s right-hand man and his most trusted friend”; leader of the Gikuyu Iregi Army in Fort Hall [Murang’a] district and vice-president of the Kenya Defense Council, the main Mau Mau coordinating group.

 Karari Njama, considering him “a very auspicious person,” describes him as “uneducated but very clever, could read and write in vernacular, very industrious, sagacious and active, very brave and with a high commanding tone.” He prevailed in power struggles with Mbaria Kaniu for leadership of the army and with Stanley Mathenge for the office of Field Marshal; he was killed in the forest 27 Nov. 1954 while fighting security forces. He was one of the founders of the Forty Group.

Matenjagwo, Gitau Ng’ang’a — Mau Mau general in Murang’a, killed with three followers on 22 Dec. 1953. A Mau Mau song describes his last moments as he “put a handful of soil/ In his mouth/ And with his clenched fist held skyward,/ He said: ‘I am dying as an African hero’ ” (Maina wa Kinyatti, Thunder 101). The “handful of soil” has the same nationalistic connotations as in Mau Mau oaths.

Mbaria Kaniu — Mau Mau general; member of the Kenya Defense Council, serving as Mathenge’s deputy and dropped from the leadership along with Mathenge; the loser late in 1954 in a power struggle with Macharia Kimemia for leadership of Gikuyu Iregi Army, forced to settle for leadership of Mburu Ngebo Army (Murang’a-area warriors). Mbaria (pictured) claimed to have led the famous attack on the Naivasha Police Station, but this claim has been questioned. He was arrested in 1956 during a two-day battle at Naivasha (Itote, Action 180, 183).

According to Gikoyo, he was a “roving ambassador of peace and reconciliation—much beloved of all fighters” “because he loved justice. . . . He used to speak with great skill and sincerity and as a result raised the morale of us fighters.” Wachanga describes him as “the third of our big leaders” (after Kimathi and Mathenge), “about six feet tall. . .slender and strong. . .a good leader, soft spoken. . .and fair.” After independence he took part in Murang’a politics, aligned with Kaggia, being elected vice-president of the Fort Hall KANU branch in 1964; however, with Kaggia’s defeat by Kiano the following year, he withdrew from politics. He led a Naivasha business founded by former Mau Mau generals that bought farmland in the Rift Valley.

Nyanjiru, Mary Muthoni — the alleged leader of the crowd protesting Harry Thuku’s detention in 1922; said to have come from Weithaga in Murang’a, she is not among those named in coroner’s report. Recalling the events nearly fifty years later, Thuku said that “one woman, Mary Nyanjiru, began to shout that they should get their leader free”; her death “showed that women were in the frontline of Kenya’s fight for freedom.” In a 1964 interview Job Muchuchu, a politically prominent eyewitness, described the scene in more detail:
Mary Muthoni Nyanjiru. . .leapt to her feet, pulled her dress right up over her shoulders and shouted to the men: “You take my dress and give me your trousers. You men are cowards. What are you waiting for? Our leader is in there. Let’s get him.”

 The hundred of women trilled their ngemi in approbation. . . . Mary and the others pushed on until the bayonets of the rifles were pricking at their throats, and then the firing started. Mary was one of the first to die…

Wanjiru wa Waichanguru (Wambogo) — Dedan Kimathi’s “forest wife,” called by him “Nyina wa Ngai” (mother of God), perhaps an allusion to the Gikuyu saying “Nyina wa mundu ni ta Ngai wa keeri” (“the mother of a man is like a second God”–J. M. Kariuki 171).

She is described by Njama as a “pretty, brown, healthy, medium girl.” In the same ceremony that named Kimathi the Prime Minister, she was made a colonel (the highest women’s rank) in the Mau Mau army as well as Knight Commander of the Gikuyu and Mumbi army, praised by Njama for her bravery and endurance.

She was captured by Ian Henderson on 17 Oct. 1956, in the course of the final hunt for Kimathi. Ngugi and Mugo raise her to heroic proportions in Trial.

Waruingi, Mwana Mwende — Mau Mau general, designated by Kimathi in Jan. 1955 as commander of the 500-strong Kenya Inoro Army (Kiambu District warriors; “one of our most successful and daring leaders” and probably the most important general operating in the Reserves. Frank Kitson–who led the Security Force against Waruingi for eighteen months before finally achieving his death in Aug. 1955–describes him as “efficient” in his organization; he was killed by a white soldier named Bothma–presumably identical with Muru wa Waitina (Muchai, 33).

Ngugi wa Thiong’o: The Making of a Rebel
Carol Sicherman, 1990

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