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VAS

Day white settlers stormed State House in protest

NATIONAL
By Hudson Gumbihi | November 19th 2021

State House Road.

At the height of the state of emergence, targeted killings against white settlers scared them so much that they stormed State House seeking an audience with Governor Evelyn Baring.

The murders began soon after the declaration of emergency in 1952. Though uncoordinated, about 20 Europeans were killed in a spate of violence in Naivasha, Kitale and Nyeri.

The perpetrators were believed to be either African servants hired by the settlers or Mau Mau fighters.

It is the murder of Roger Ruck and his wife Esme that jolted the white settlers into action. The Rucks were a young likeable couple in Kinangop, brutally murdered on January 24, 1953.

The following day hundreds of white extremists, some armed, marched to State House, then known as Government House, to protest against Baring’s inability to contain the situation.

At State House, the settlers were unable to break through a security wall mounted by African police officers.

As the protestors caused a commotion outside, their political leader, Sir Michael Blundell, together with other representatives, were held up in a meeting with Governor Baring.

When the noise outside became unbearable, Blundell and his team stormed out. In his memoirs: So Rough a Wind, Blundell recounted how he calmed the situation after persuading the commanding officer to withdraw the human security shield.

“As I emerged round the corner, the crowd recognised me and there were shouts and cries. I told the crowd to get right back on the grass below the terrace, but they were worked up and refused to do so,” wrote Blundell.

When he attempted to address the crowd, his voice was drowned by the shouts of agitated protestors on seeing the Sultan of Zanzibar, who was standing on the balcony. The Sultan was a guest at State House. His presence angered the white settlers seeking audience with the governor.

Describing the moment as nasty, Blundell recalled how men and women he had extreme respected for lost their temper pelting out expletives: “Looking down over the scene, I saw in front of me a little woman, dressed in brown, who was, in normal times, the respected owner of an excellent shop in Nairobi. She was beside herself with fury and crying out in a series of unprintable words.” 

Blundell and one Humphrey Slade, managed to calms the crowd. However, the settlers left State House without being addressed by Baring. 

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