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Untold secret between Nyachaes and Kenyatta

By | September 21st 2009 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Robert Nyasato

When the mother of politician Simeon Nyachae, Paulina Bosibori, is buried in Kisii on Monday it will be the closure of a chapter of some untold details in Kenya’s liberation struggle history.

Few, apart from those who actively took part in the liberation struggle, may know what role she and her late husband, Senior Chief Musa Nyandusi played in assisting some of the lead activists.

It was in her house that Kenyatta hid for one night, as the chief hosted him secretly while he was being sought for arrest in 1951.

Jomo Kenyatta

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Her husband, Nyandusi, was a colonial government chief and in hosting Kenyatta he risked both his job and possible arrest.

In his book, African Successes, University of California political scientist Prof David K Leonard wrote of the hosting of Kenyatta by Nyandusi and his wife:

"Probably only Nyandusi’s prominence enabled him to survive his "indiscreet" relationships with the cause of African nationalism."

"When Jomo Kenyatta toured western Kenya in the 1940s to broaden the base for the cause of greater African rights, he stayed at the home of Nyandusi. As the conflict with the British intensified and the Mau Mau uprising began among the Kikuyu, Nyandusi continued his relationship with Kenyatta. Although Nyandusi’s power and wealth derived from his service to the British Crown, he shared with many other chiefs a deep resentment of European discrimination against Africans," wrote Leonard.

Hid Kenyatta

He wrote: "On October 15, 1952, Kenyatta was campaigning in Kisii for self-rule when he received a tip that the colonial administration was seeking to arrest him. Nyandusi hid him for the night and helped him escape to Nairobi. Kenyatta was arrested five days later. The British were furious when they discovered what Nyandusi had done, but he begged that he was only meeting traditional African obligations of hospitality to a visitor."

Despite such covert assistance to the African nationalist, Nyandusi was to serve his term until after independence, when, in 1964, then Minister for Home Affairs Jaramogi Oginga Odinga swept out all colonial senior and paramount chiefs.

The political scientist captured in detail how polygamous Nyandusi relied extensively on his fifth wife, Bosibori, to carry out some important assignments that were outside his official role.

Nyandusi was to die later in 1970, leaving Bosibori as the scion of his large family which had 15 wives and 40 other children.

Simeon Nyachae

Her son Nyachae has, for almost four decades, influenced Kisii politics and had extensive administrative impact in the country.

Imposing figure

Those who knew Bosibori say she was an imposing figure, a business-minded disciplinarian and a workaholic whose strong character shaped members of her family.

Close relatives said her strong will is said to be what is reflected on her second son Nyachae as a public figure.

Her nephew, John Makinda, said how Bosibori liked recounting the role she and her husband played in the colonial administration and of his liaisons with unlikely buddies he made like Kenyatta.

"She told us how Kenyatta had first enquired about Chief Nyandusi whose fame was heard across the country, before the two met," said Makinda.

At that time the paramount chief had bought a new Peugeot pick-up, for a hefty sum ten of Sh5,600, a feat only then associated with rich colonial settler farmers.

When Kenyatta toured the region he was told of the rich chief and he said he wanted to meet him. That was how their acquaintance started, when the chief hosted the future president. "She said only her and chief Nyandusi knew then of the secret visit in 1952. The chief warned her not to breath a word about it," Makinda says.

Kenyatta would later make Nyandusi’s son, Nyachae one hi administrators, promoting him through ranks to a Provincial Commissioner.

Although she was married to Nyandusi under Abagusii customary law, she later requested her husband to allow her to remove her ebitinge (traditional anklets) so that she could join the Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA) and take Holy Communion.

Very firm

One of her grandsons, Mr Michael Nyachae said she was very firm in her decisions and would not waver but tell one to their face what their mistake was.

Paulina Bosibori

Councillor Steve Arika of Kisii Municipal council and close family ally described Bosibori as a disciplinarian and a committed Christian who was at any time carrying a Bible.

Family spokesman and step-son to Bosibori, Mr Masakara Nyandusi, 70, described her as ever jovial with a warm reception to visitors.

"She really adored her farm work and would take her visiting grandchildren to till the shamba every early in the morning," Masakara said.

In a past interview with The Standard, Bosibori said she imparted strict discipline on her children.


politician Simeon Nyachae Paulina Bosibori Jomo Kenyatta Nyandusi
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