Senior Chief Waruhiu wa Kung'u is one of colonial Kenya's most controversial chiefs. His name has gone down in history as a traitor who was assassinated because he sold his country to the British colonizers. This book is the untold story of the controversial life of Senior Chief Waruhiu who served the colonial government for thirty years. He believed his white superiors' authority was God-given and to disobey them was tantamount to disobeying God himself. That was why he was considered loyal, obedient, dependable, responsible, efficient, and a tower of strength.
Chief Waruhiu's violent death dealt his reputation a devastating blow, as it provided his critics with a basis to portray him as a traitor who sold out to the colonizers. Although Waruhiu believed that the Africans were not yet ready for self-government-and that they could not attain it through violence-that did not make him a traitor. Other chiefs also believed that and yet were not labeled as traitors. However, this did lead to him being considered a very pro-government and pro-European chief who was opposed to the aspirations of his people and he, as a result, deserved to be killed.
Although it is believed that Waruhiu was killed by Mau Mau, there is no evidence to support that claim. The white settler community gained a lot from Waruhiu's murder as it paved the way for it to get what it had been demanding for a long time-a declaration of a state of emergency and the arrest and detention of African leaders. It is very likely that some leaders of the white settlers, working together with government officials, were probably behind Waruhiu's murder. The police, the prosecution, and the court seemed determined to make the murder charges against the accused suspects stick in spite of glaring discrepancies and contradictions in the evidence against them. Above all, the prosecution failed to prove beyond any reasonable doubts that Waweru and Gathuku killed Waruhiu. Thus, the mystery of who killed Waruhiu and those behind his murder still remains unresolved and the perpetrators of the murder may never be known.
Publisher: Lexington Books
Number of pages: 206
Weight: 454 g
Dimensions: 237 x 161 x 21 mm
The role of chiefs in colonial Kenya is a contested terrain. Dr. Wamagatta contributes to this debate by examining the career of Chief Waruhiu Kungu of Kiambu. He traces his rise from a humble background to a wealthy, most loyal and distinguished pillar of Kenya's colonial administration. He points out that to his subjects, he was a sellout due to his overzealousness in executing unpopular government policies, such as keeping law and order or collecting taxes. Nevertheless, Wamagatta refutes the `stooge' tag by marshalling substantial evidence to show Waruhiu's efforts in championing the welfare of his people in diverse fields. Finally, he contributes to Waruhiu's saga by postulating that his unresolved murder was probably not carried out by the Mau Mau but very likely by `some leaders of the white settlers, working with some government officials' in order to force the government to declare a state of emergency and forestall demands for independence. That is controversial and will spur further research and debate. Hence, the book is a worthy addition to the historiography of Kenya. -- Godfrey Muriuki, University of Nairobi
Evanston Wamagatta has written an important and richly researched biography of Waruhiu wa Kung'u, Kenya's most powerful colonial chief whose assassination in 1952 ushered in the Mau Mau war against the British. It is a study that offers meaningful insights into British colonial policies, third world nationalism, and decolonization and should appeal to a wide range of readers. -- Robert L. Tignor, The Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, Princeton University