“We reject your offer because it amounts to a bribe. You, particularly, should know that we fought and died for the liberation of this land, and not for money and a few acres of land. We therefore refuse to disarm until your government meets our demands. Kenyans cannot be said to be free if they don’t control their land and have succeeded in expelling foreign exploiters from the country, dismantling the colonial military and political machinery, and distributing egalitarian justice to the citizens.”
Looking General Baimungi in the eye, according to Mwariama, Kenyatta angrily asked him, “Njenūrū Baimūinge, iī ti wīyathi watūmire mūthiī mūtitū, rīu ūrī mokoinī maitū, nīkīī kīngī mūrenda? Nī gūthūkia mūrenda gūthūkia būrūri; tūtikūmwītikīria mūūthūkie.”
(General Baimungi, did you go to the forest to fight for independence? Now it is in our hands; what else do you want? Your aim is to destroy the country and we will not allow you to do so.)
The guerrilla leaders responded: A luta continua!
After the breakdown of negotiations, Kenyatta vehemently warned the Mau Mau Generals that the government would take military action if they persisted in holding their position.
In response, General Baimungi passionately told Kenyatta:
“We don’t want war, even for a day—unless it is forced on us. We are not bandits or terrorists, we are freedom fighters and we love our country more than life. I don’t know whether you are aware that it is our courage and persistency, our heroism and sacrifice that freed you from the enemy prison and gave birth to national independence. Although we respect you as a national leader and like us, you have been in the frontline of the struggle; we refuse to accept the political and economic program of your government. It is a sellout program. In this regard, we don’t consider ourselves part of that government or in anyway bound by the agreement you made with the British at Lancaster House Conference. Mūthee, don’t you see what you are doing? You are compromising the fundamental interests of our people to imperialism.”
Instead of responding, Kenyatta walked out of the room, fuming with anger. Without saying goodbye, the three guerrilla leaders were driven to Meru town on a government vehicle. That night, they joined their comrades-in-arms in the forest. Under this intense situation, the two forces will mobilize their armies; organize their tactics and strategies, to face each other on the battlefield. It will be a bloody confrontation…
In responding to General Baimungi’s uncompromising posture, Kenyatta ordered the former colonial army, a combined force of white and black soldiers, the paramilitary police and the notorious humungati militia led by a British commander to return to the forest to hunt down the KLFA forces. Intensive bombing of the Kirinyaga region was carried out.
A dusk-to-dawn curfew was declared in Meru district, countless innocent peasants and workers slaughtered in the name of “law and order”. Generals Baimuingi, Ruku and Chui killed on the battlefield on January 26, 1965 and their bodies paraded in Meru town for several days.
General Mwariama describes the scene of murder:
“I learned about the brutal killing of General Baimungi while at my home in Timau. I rushed to Meru town immediately. I went to where the body of Baimungi had fallen and with seething anger; I examined it. The bullet that killed him went through the right hand and then through the neck.”
“I put my finger in the bullet hole and it came out on the other side of the neck. I started crying; I could not control my emotion. I realized it was barely six months ago I was arrested and imprisoned for six months for my patriotism. Now, fifteen months after independence, here lay my comrade, a Kenyan freedom fighter, brutally murdered by government forces—a government we had played a significant role in creating. Upset and with a feeling of impotence, I left the town with tears running down my cheeks, and I did not sleep that night— I kept asking myself, ‘Are we all going to end up like Baimungi, Chui and many other comrades killed with them? Is our patriotism a crime to be savagely suppressed? Who will write the history of our armed struggle, if they kill all of us?’ I was not able to answer those questions; I left them to history.
(Kinyatti, 2019) History of Resistance in Kenya.
Meru Daily News is your one-stop trusted source for the latest News updates from Meru County, Tharaka Nithi and the larger Mt. Kenya region. Follow our Social Media Pages for real-time News Bytes.