Marshal Mwariama was part of a secret conspiracy by some influential and jealous local politicians in complicity with former colonial government servants.
People who worked in security forces (colonial police) implicate some politicians in Meru with inciting agents of the emergent government to over-react against the freedom fighters.
It has been suggested that the politicians learned that the freedom fighters would grow powerful in independent Kenya after they were deservedly rewarded for their job well done, and would therefore outshine and probably eclipse the politicians, and probably punish the “carry-over” civil servants.
So while the freedom fighters were busy celebrating their victory and relaxing after the war, the politicians went on establishing themselves, and in the course told many lies about the freedom fighters to the young government with the aim of getting the freedom fighters out of their way.
Some incidents go on to tell a convincing story: accusations of lawlessness in the freedom fighters’ transit camps (Marshal Mwariama’s at Lubwathira and Baimungi’s at Nkando ya Ngoma) are now said to have been smear campaigns to make the two leaders appear irresponsible and a threat to security.
These untruths were mainly told to people in Provincial Administration, those who had worked with the colonial government, and were not fully confident in the new society. For their fear of reprisals for their part in the colonial administration, the civil servants became easy targets for the upcoming politicians.
In the case of Marshal Mwariama, it is difficult to believe how in his own camp, he could have behaved in a disorderly manner, obstruct a police officer, and be in possession of an offensive weapon. Marshal Mwariama’s defense was that two freedom fighters who had helped him very much in acquiring weapons during the war had visited him from Nairobi at his Lubwathira camp.
He had welcomed them warmly and introduced them to his nearly 2,000 fighters, some of whom had never even heard of them, let alone seen them. Then in that happy moment, he asked the two visitors, Mbuthia Thairu and Kahonoki, to address and greet the crowd.
That was when a policeman who had been planted in the camp, tried to prevent the visitors from greeting the crowd. Marshal Mwariama could not understand why they were being denied that freedom. He allowed the visitors to speak, telling the policeman that he had no business denying the freedom fighters such a basic freedom barely two months after winning independence.
That is how the “obstruction” and “disorderly behavior” charges came about. To add weight to their case the police searched Marshal Mwariama’s tent and “found” an “offensive weapon.” This earned the Field Marshal five years imprisonment from the white magistrate.
He would probably have died in prison were it not for the intervention of Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta, at the urging of Marshal Mwariama’s men. (Disappointed and broken, Marshal Mwariama resorted to a hunger strike in Kamiti prison that lasted 21 days, and he had to be fed intravenously.)
Note that at the time of the case the Attorney General was Mr. Charles Njonjo and he had to give the “consent” to prosecute. Mr. Njonjo is known for his anti-Africanism. Throughout his career, he is known to have displayed a character of being more white than the whites.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Mr. Kenyatta, when working to release Mwariama used a more moderate man in Mr. James Karugu, the Deputy Public Prosecutor. Mr. Kenyatta’s words to Marshal Mwariama translated to mean, “I will release you in absence of those who jailed you” could well be referring to consent giver, Mr. Njonjo.
Despite the dramatic release from prison, the Field Marshal was in for more humiliation. When it came to being allocated land the warlord got 15 acres of bush to clear, just like any of his men, in the Timau Settlement Scheme. However, some lesser freedom fighters outside Meru district were considered for bigger tracts of land and much more.
It was much later, after seven years, during the 1969 national crisis, after the assassination of popular government minister Tom Mboya, that President Kenyatta inquired about Field Marshal Mwariama, and after he was told about his fate, the President ordered that he and a few others be given administrative jobs.
Marshal Mwariama was made an Assistant Chief of Timau sub-location while Mr. Mahihu was the Provincial Commissioner for Eastern Province. Marshal Mwariama did not find the job very exciting and he resigned from it a few years later.
The killing of General Baimuingi was preceded by accusations; that he was a cattle thief, that he was hungry for power, and to instill discipline he had whipped many people, including a politician known as Julius Muthamia, under the national flag; and had even sentenced the senior Meru politician Jackson Angaine to death.
Mr. Angaine escaped the noose following pleas by other freedom fighters. He had reportedly used his panga to cut from women’s head hair that had an un-African style. These included Mr. Kenyatta’s daughters when Baimungi called on the Prime Minister at the end of December 1963.
The man who fired the shot that killed Baimungi, police inspector Anthony Ochindo (later Senior Superintendent of Police – SSP) who was then stationed at Nkubu had confided to colleagues that General Baimungi did not die purely for “abuse of the flag”, as it had been claimed.
Those, like Ochindo, who did not believe the flag theory think that certain politicians saw Baimungi as a threat to their power and future. They also connect Baimungi’s death to the mysterious disappearance of Baimungi’s treasury (four debes full of currency notes — debe is a four-gallon tin container.)
The mystery is deepened by the way Baimungi’s herd of cattle was auctioned after his death. At the hurriedly conducted auction at Kibirichia market outside Meru town, a cow was going for Sh. 40 (Even in 1965 that was still the price for a chicken).
The misfortune that surrounded the “Last Mau Mau” robbed them of their deserved glory. What they had been promised, went, instead, to the upcoming greedy politicians, some of whom were double-crossers in the colonial time.
The Mau Mau presence in 1964 was played down to create the impression that the movement had died in 1956. This was a neo-colonialist attempt to leave the hanging question: where the Mau Mau freedom fighters, who were so gloriously received from the forest at Independence in 1963, heroes or villains?