Dedan Kimathi: The Whole Story


General Mathenge back in the day. Photo: Courtesy

By: Joseph Karimi

Worth Noting:

  • The General did not mince his words in his lengthy response: “You told me independence had come. Yes, independence came for Jomo (Kenyatta). He was our choice for a leader and the British government compromised him to lead. Our Mau Mau Movement wanted Jomo as the leader of the independent Kenya.
  • Jomo Kenyatta was at first pro Mau Mau nationalistic interests, but he had changed his alliance to support the British, thus joined them in the continued suppression of the Mau Mau Organization with its targets and objectives.
  • This way, Jomo had identified himself as anti-Mau Mau. Jomo did not consider Mau Mau, did not respect the movement, he just abandoned it.

General Mathenge lived in Gambella, Ilubabor Province in Southern Ethiopia. He served as a customs officer of the Imperial government till retirement. He then moved to the capital city of Addis Ababa. It was while he was still in Gambella that Mr. S.W. Ndirangu from Nyeri visited him in 1976.

Ndirangu talked to this author on October 4, 1977, about the visit. He recounted General Mathenge’s concern why the Mau Mau, despite fighting so hard against the British government, were not party to the Lancaster Constitutional Talks of 1961, 1962 and 1963. “The Mau Mau Organization was sidelined and excluded from the Talks. The Organization should have been allowed to participate and present their memorandum detailing the objectives and the agenda for waging the liberation war,” he observed.

“Instead, the same British puppets were involved in the drafting of the Constitution under the guise that they were best placed to cater for the interests of Kenyans, and understood fully the objectives of the common goal and the unity of Kenyans in risking their lives by declaring war against the British colonialists,” he continued.

General Mathenge went on to declare: “I’m going to tell you now that the independence Kenyans got is not the Uhuru that you may understand was obtained. No, what happened was that it was the white colonialist who was pushed out of the seat of authority and was replaced by black people, ‘Ndiyo Bwana’ class of stooges and bootlickers. We, who were the ‘Apana Bwana’ the recalcitrant class, were thrown out.

He was categorical that the war between Mau Mau and the Kamatimu (home guards) will never come to an end even if Kenyatta appeals to the people to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing. The struggle will continue between the two groups up to today, and we will continue to fight, hoping we shall win the war.

Ndirangu then dropped the bombshell: “Because Kenya attained the independence you and your fighters went into the forest to fight for, what now stops you from returning to Kenya?”

The General did not mince his words in his lengthy response: “You told me independence had come. Yes, independence came for Jomo (Kenyatta). He was our choice for a leader and the British government compromised him to lead. Our Mau Mau Movement wanted Jomo as the leader of the independent Kenya. Jomo Kenyatta was at first pro Mau Mau nationalistic interests, but he had changed his alliance to support the British, thus joined them in the continued suppression of the Mau Mau Organization with its targets and objectives. This way, Jomo had identified himself as anti-Mau Mau. Jomo did not consider Mau Mau, did not respect the movement, he just abandoned it.

“The British government was supposed to hand over government to the Mau Mau Movement through a Treaty between the two.. Instead, Kenya’s independence was entrusted to the pro-British loyalists – ‘Home Guards’ – the same loyalists who were fighting along with the British against the nationalists, denying the Mau Mau Organization its rightful gains from its full and selfless participation in the liberation struggle.”

Gen. Mathenge was not done yet.. “The elections of 1956, 1958… who elected these people, the likes of Tom Mboya, Oginga Odinga, Joseph Mwaniki Nyagah and the like? Who voted for these people? Was it not the loyalists who had documents required for qualification as voters? These same people who were so elected are the same ones who founded KANU and KADU; they were the same elements who had been elected by the loyalists. And were it not for the tribal angle, there was no difference between KANU and KADU. Both were basically political agents of confusion initiated by the British government to mislead the public in their divide and rule political tactics.”

He had this to say on his return to Kenya: “Coming back to Kenya, we shall. But not in the immediate future; not today and not tomorrow… not immediately. We shall come back. If not us, our children shall come back to our motherland. For me and my colleagues here, know my wishes are that if i die here, my body be taken for burial at Mahiga, Othaya.”

Gen. Mathenge expressed his dismay at the way things had turned out in Kenya. “Since Kamatimu were occupying the position of authority, handed over to them by their colonial masters, what is our madaraka and benefit for our role in the Mau Mau?”

Dedan Kimathi: The Whole Story

Joseph Karimi, 2013.

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