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Saturday, 7 July 2012

June July 2012.Just who was Muindi Mbingu?

Samuel Muindi Mbingu: A Profile

Samuel Muindi Mbingu was born in 1893 and schooled up to form four at Kabete Technical. After form four he joined the Kenya power and later the colonial police. During this time the colonial government had taken most of the Kamba land and the Akamba,  mainly pastoralists, were evicted from their land and send to reserved areas.

In 1937 the Machakos District Commissioner, with instructions from the governor rounded up thousands of cattle from the “Nugu’s” meaning “monkeys/primitive blacks referring to the local natives.
The government was pursuing a destocking policy as they claimed that numerous herds of cattle that ravaged land between the Mua Hills and the present day Nairobi City were degrading the environment. Rather than convince the Akamba to sell these herds, the colonial government decided to enforce the destocking policy by seizing the cattle by force. The herders believed that the colonialists actually wanted to sabotage the Akamba economy as they saw the cattle as wealth that made the Akamba disobedient. Thus the ’wealth’ was taken so as to gain control over them. Besides taking the cattle the locals were also forced to make terraces in their shambas. This treatment provoked the vocal and fearless Muindi Mbingu to leave the police and mobilize others like Elijah Kavulu and Isaac Mwalonzi to fight for the rights of their people. Due to his fearless character, he commanded a lot of respect and obedience from people particularly from Ngelani and Kangundo regions and elected the chairman of the committee to address the people’s problems.
 In 1938, all the cattle in Kamba, Ngelani, Koma-rock region- believed to be 2,500- was seized, leaving the locals without any cattle. It was at this point that Muindi Mbingu mobilized  the people where they agreed not to let their cattle go and not to make terraces in the shambas. Mundi Mbingu was at the head of a great tightly organized protest, complete with a slogan that lives on to this day. “No Kikuu” meaning “as a previously agreed”. From then they rejected the DC’s meeting until their demands were met. Each peace or coercion effort was met with chants of “No Kikuu”.
With no solution to the problems of the local’s, Muindi Mbingu led the people of Ngelani, the old and the young, men and women in the biggest demonstration to Nairobi over 60 kms trek to meet the Governor himself. They went to “Kariokor”. Then courier corps” where they stayed for one month all this time seeking to see the governor but being barred. Each time the governor passed by, Mundi Mbingu would rise to salute in jest to push for audience with the governor.
 Muindi Mbingu organized how food for the protestors would be transported from Ngelani to Nairobi. At the end of the month the governor’s wife passed by and saw women suckling their young ones in the cold and this touched her so much and an act she wanted addressed by the governor and hence Muindi Mbingu and his committee went to the governor, where they agreed to release the cattle to the owners.
Accounts indicate that during the meeting, when asked what he wanted done to his people he responded in the local Kamba language – “Twenda kwikala ta maau mau maitu, tuithye ngombe to Maau mau maitu, nundu nthi ino ni ya maau mau maitu. (We want to live like our grandfathers, keep cattle like our grandfathers, for the land we live on is our grandfathers). The reference to Maa umau (our grandfathers) struck a familiar tune to the colonialists and they swiftly accused him of being the founder of “Mau Mau uprising “- the Mau Mau is accredited to this brave nationalist.
From this time (1938) the colonial government accused Muindi Mbingu of leading a revolt called Mau Mau. It was against this background that he was arrested and detained for seven years in the Coastal Islands of Lamu.
After release, he was compromised by then D.C and collaborated with the colonial government a move which annoyed the people he had previously led fighting against the abuse of their rights. This led to his brutal murder in 1953.His death marked the climax of Mau Mau revolution with others championing the Mau Mau causes.
What Muindi Mbingu did for his people is worth remembering hence Muindi Mbingu street in Nairobi and Muindi Mbingu Secondary School.
Compiled by NGAO – Head of department science, Researcher in Kamba history and edited by Martin Masai.

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