All hail the Queen: Mau Mau lived in extreme poverty, while collaborators enjoyed 'soft-life'

Queen Elizabeth II inspects a guard of honour. [PHOTO: FILE]

The death of Britain's Queen Elizabeth at 96 ignited a furious debate on social media, pitting Kenyans who support the monarch against those who believe she stood for a system that colonialised, robbed and brutalised Kenyans. But what has always incensed the children of Mau Mau is that those who collaborated with the colonial system ended up inheriting the very lands that that their ancestors fought for while the warriors of independence lived and died in poverty.

Notably, the children of colonial chiefs also had superior education and ended up with plum jobs in government at independence, lording it over the children of Mau Mau and creating multi-billion shilling economic empires. Not so Nabongo Mumia, a colonial paramount chief who has been lampooned for being a British sympathizer, rubbing shoulders with the British and abetting the lucrative slave trade which was the digital currency of the era.

Unlike his peers from Central Kenya and Ukambani, there are no substantive tracts of land, business empire, stocks in the forex market or sugarcane plantations in his name in what was his vast western Kenya kingdom. Worse still when graduates of prestigious universities and groups of schools are mentioned, none of his scions pop up, strange for a leader whose territory reportedly extended from present-day Naivasha to Jinja, Uganda. More surprising is that barring his nephew, Justice Benna Luta who was appointed solicitor general at independence, none of his direct descendants have held senior government jobs.

"This can be squarely blamed on one of his advisors who made the unforgivable blunder of barring him from going to England where he could have bargained not only for himself but for his close kin to get an education and other privileges," says Suleiman Ochanda, an elder from Mumias East. Peter Mumia II, the reigning Nabongo, however, absolves the advisor who is only known as Khachina from blame.

"It is true that Mumia Shiundu was keen on going to England like his peers from Uganda- who benefited immensely from the trip-and had even travelled to Mombasa when Khachina's advised him not to board the ship," he says.

"Khachina saw the ship and I think developed butterflies in his stomach for he had never travelled by sea. He told Nabongo that British wanted the king to travel abroad so they could steal his Wanga Kingdom."

Peter adds that a Mswahili trader who knew the King passed by the Indian Ocean shores in Mombasa and corroborated the tale. The King returned to Mumias to guard his kingdom as his peers from Uganda, whom he was invited with, took a voyage that would turn around the fortunes of their kin and kingdom.

Peter Mumia II is not convinced, however, that King Shiundu, lost anything substantive by skipping the voyage as he had gathered "enough" wealth already.
"Remember Shiundu never fully collaborated with the colonisers and this was in 1902 and he had two cars, a horse and a bicycle and a kingdom to look after," he argues. "He did not need anything else."

"He would refuse subsequent overseas education offers for his children, instead passing them to the Kisa and Marama Luhya sub-tribes who still enjoy the benefits today."
Shiundu's Kingdom was in 1926 degazetted by the British leaving him just a fraction of his humogous territory equivalent to the western region of Kenya today.
It is out of respect that Kakamega County allowed his family to collect market rates in Mumias on market days. This is a far cry from billions worth of real estate and that real collaborators pocketed at the turn of independence and the power and immense wealth their educated sons acquired in the new government.