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Fred Kubai: The secretive freedom fighter

 Fred Kubai [Photo: Courtesy]

He was one of the Kapenguria Six that included Jomo Kenyatta, Kung’u Karumba, Bildad Kaggia, Paul Ngei and Achieng Oneko, who were charged for unlawfully “managing the Mau Mau.” 

Fred Kubai was arrested on October 22, 1952, when Governor Sir Evelyn Baring declared the State of Emergency after colonial Senior Chief Waruhiu was murdered Mafia-style in Kiambu in a hit planned by the Muhimu, a unit in the Mau Mau high command to which Kubai and Karumba were members.

Kubai, a telegrapher turned pioneer trade unionist, went on to hold various posts in the Kenya African Union (KAU) after racial discrimination forced him to resign from the postal service.

The main target of the arrest was Kenyatta, with the other five being collateral damage in a 58-day trial presided over by Judge Ransley Thacker. The judge was recalled from retirement and bribed with £20,000 (Sh2.6 million at current exchange rates) to ensure they were jailed in the trial that had no jurors.

Star witness Rawson Macharia (bribed with Sh47, 000 to lie) confessed to giving false testimony, but the judgement was not considered a mistrial.

Of Fred Kubai, Judge Thacker ruled that he “was involved in Mau Mau oathing ceremonies, besides attending important KAU meetings that went a long way in managing the Mau Mau.”

Kenyatta, the first accused, was asked to speak on behalf of the others. He did not beg for mercy, but justice arguing that: “We are not guilty and we do not accept your findings…we do not feel that we have received the justice or hearing which we could have liked…we intend to appeal to a higher court…”

His co-accused were asked to say anything, and Kubai, an alumnus of Buxton Baptist School, retorted: “I have nothing to say. You can impose any sentence.”

Judge Thacker sentenced all the accused to seven years with hard labour at Lokitaung Prison on April 8, 1953.

But Kenyatta’s jailmates were unhappy with the special treatment he was getting, owing to his age. Kubai later conspired with the rest to have Kenyatta murdered by Kariuki Chotara, a minor who had been jailed for three murders.

Chotara was to knife Kenyatta in a scuffle, but old Jomo was saved by General China (Waruhiu Itote) who was also in Kapenguria after he was captured in Mt Kenya forest as we are told in Jomo’s Jailor by Elizabeth Watkins.

After independence, Kenyatta still appointed Kubai, then MP for Nakuru East, as assistant minister for Labour and Social Services, and later at the Office of the President.

He died on Madaraka Day in 1996 at 79.  So anonymous was Kubai, his death was reported to the media four days later.

He was survived by five widows and a brood that has been having inheritance battles over his Sh50 million estate comprising land, buildings, shares and other moveable assets of Kubai Investments.

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