Saturday 9 December 2023


Bernard Gatu, the son in law to ex Senior Chief  Mbiyu Koinange, is seen here at Nairobi Prison after being  charged as an accessory in the murder  of Senior Chief  Waruhiu at Gachie  in 1952.

Bernard was charged alongside his father in law ex Senior Chief Mbiyu Koinange (81), and his brothers in-law Karuga Koinange, and John Mbiu Koinange. Their wives were also rounded up and taken to various detention camps.

Another of Koinange's sons in law implicated in the  murder was Jomo Kenyatta. Anthony Swann who once served as an administrator at Kiambu and Minister for Defence recalled how one night  two women visited  his home to share information they claimed placed Kenyatta at the centre of the murder  of Waruhiu.

But just after the women had taken their seats, the lights went off abruptly leaving everyone in darkness. According to Swann the women blamed Kenyatta for the blackout shouting, " That's  Kenyatta, that's  him, he did it  because he knows we are here."

Senior  Chief  Waruhiu was one of the most loyal chiefs to the British. He was shot through the mouth by suspected  Mau Mau in the backseat of his Hudson Martin at Gachie. His death triggered  the declaration  of the state of emergency  in 1952.

The assassination of one of the most respected  colonial chiefs had finally brought to the attention of the British the danger posed by Mau Mau to their colonial rule.

A report compiled by the Special Branch following the assassination described Waruhiu’s death as a clear case of gangsterism, “as the murderer had to ask the chief who he was before he shot him."

The report went on to mention Ex senior Chief Koinange and two of his sons, as principals to the crime. The report  read in part: “It  is not clear why they Koinange family did not try to instigate the murder without becoming so embroiled.”

According to the Special Branch Waruhiu had to  silenced for three reasons:

First because of his loyalty to the British, and his efforts to rally the Kikuyu against the Mau Mau.

Second, his willingness to appear before the Royal Commission, to testify against allegations by African politicians, that Kikuyu land was stolen by the Europeans.

Third, because of personal jealousy and spite ,the Koinange held against Waruhiu.

Waruhiu was buried on the 9th of oct 1952 his funeral was attended by senior colonial government officials  led by Governor Evelyn Baring. Also in attendance  was Koinange's son in law Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

Governor Baring Eulogised Waruhiu as ”a great man ,a great African and a great citizen of Kenya who met death in the service of his own people and his government .”

At the burial, Sir Evelyn Baring stood opposite Kenyatta, the man he was planning to arrest in a matter of days.

Eleven days later, Baring declared a state of emergency, as Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and other leaders of KAU were arrested on suspicion of leading the Mau Mau. In two days, the number of those arrested had risen to 104.

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