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The shocking trial of the Kapenguria six

KENYA @ 50
By KENYA AT 50 REPORTER | Nov 6th 2013 | 3 min read

NAIROBI, KENYA: The case had no recourse. It was held hundreds of kilometres from Nairobi ensuring there would be minimal interruption and even less information spillage from Kapengura where Jomo Kenyatta, Kung’u Karumba, Bildad Kaggia, Fred Kubai, Paul Ngei and Achieng Oneko were charged for unlawfully  “managing the Mau Mau,” a proscribed group that planned to murder all white people in Kenya.

Murder of chief

Never mind Kenyatta had publicly denounced it after the Mafia-style murder in Kiambu of colonial Senior Chief Waruhiu who was driving home after attending a court case in Nairobi. His murder, planned by the Mau Mau high command triggered the declaration of the State of Emergency by governor Evelyn Baring on October 22, 1952-also the day the Kapenguria Six were arrested. Kenyatta was the main target. The other five, who held various posts in the Kenya African Union (KAU), were collateral damage.

So how did each plead to the charges since there was no live media coverage?

Kenyatta was charged with the top leadership of KAU and inciting the Mau Mau having “persuaded them to in secret to murder, to burn and to commit atrocities which would take many years to forget.” Utterances and being part of initiation ceremonies were the other pieces evidence against him with Rawson Macharia as star witness.

 Of Fred Kubai, Judge Thacker ruled, “There is less evidence against Kubai than there is against Kenyatta.   Muthondu Nduti testified that Kubai was involved in Mau Mau oathing ceremonies besides attending important KAU meetings that went along way in “managing the Mau Mau.”

There was “less evidence in quantum with regard to Achieng than there is with regard to Karumba” as he was in the Executive Committee of KAU and attended all-important meetings. Johanna Ng’ang’a and Ephraim Gichiriri testified as witnesses against Oneko.

Bildad Kaggia was in the meeting where Mau Mau was said to be a religion and “there is no evidence that Kaggia disassociated himself from anything which the others said; in fact, there is evidence that he joined in…There was also evidence that Kaggia attempted to recruit Otto Mongoti into Mau Mau Society.”

“Paul Ngei, though a ‘Mukamba’ is one of the Executive Committee of KAU and therefore a holder of high office in that Association,” charged Judge Thacker.

Utterances was the other evidence against him having told Kagundo DC Mr Pedrazza that “All you bloody Europeans will be killed by Mau Mau…I am Mau Mau and to hell with the British Empire!” A prison letter with the words “Bless Mau Mau! Bless Mau Mau!” added to his woes.

Kung’u Karumba was the leader of the KAU Chura Division where he oathed and initiated members into Mau Mau. A Mr Waweru was a witness against Karumba to that effect.

Accused Number One was asked to speak on behalf of the other five.  He did not beg for mercy but justice:

Jomo Kenyatta:  “May it please your honour. On behalf of my colleagues, I wish to say 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…we believe that the Supreme Court of Kenya will give us justice. Thank You.”

That done, his  co-accused were asked to give reason why a sentence should not be passed by Judge Ransley Thacker.

Fred Kubai: “ I have nothing to say. You can impose any sentence.

Achieng Oneko: “I have nothing to say at the moment. You can impose any sentence you are prepared to impose. I am only waiting to appeal to the Supreme Court of Kenya.”

Bildad Kaggia: “I am in full agreement with what has been said by my colleagues and I have nothing to add.”

Paul Ngei: “I strongly associate myself with what Kenyatta has said. You can impose any sentence you like.”

Kung’u Karumba:  “Just as you like!”

Judge Ransley Thacker sentenced all accused to seven years hard labour beginning that April 8 in 1953.

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