WAIYAKI WA HINGA: THE UNTOLD STORY
Book title: Waiyaki wa Hinga: The Untold Story
Author: Njoroge Regeru Publisher: Regsco Holdings Limited
Available at: Text Book Centre and Prestige Bookshop in Nairobi, Bookstop Yaya Centre and Muthamaki Bookshop in Kikuyu
killed. Whichever of these two versions is correct, what is known is that he ended up in Kiambu and was nicknamed “Hinga” — meaning ‘hypocrite’ — because he was not forthcoming and was always thought to be a Maasai spy. The Maasai also did not trust him partly because he had become wealthy after successful raids on their herds.
Waiyaki got his name during this period and it is believed that it was derived from the Maasai name Koiyaki.
This book is a mixture of oral history and offers the reader an account that explains the kind of country that members of the Imperial British East Africa (IBEA) Company found in what is today central Kenya and the relationship between the Maasai and Kikuyu communities. It is also the story of how events taking place in Europe, and the British search for colonies, would have an impact on Waiyaki’s family and his leadership of the Kikuyu.
IBEA had been founded by Sir William Mackinnon, then chairman of the British India Steam Navigation Company, which had been running a regular mail service between Aden and Zanzibar as early as 1872.
Based in Mombasa, the IBEA, had started venturing into the interior where it established forts and one of them — Fort Smith — was in Waiyaki’s territory. The turning point came in 1888 when IBEA was granted a royal charter to “exploit the British Sphere of Influence” between Zanzibar and Uganda. Nairobi lay between the two points and Waiyaki became the symbol of resistance of the British advance into the interior.
It was the arrival of Captain Fredrick Lugard “at the time of harvest” that evoked anger. “To the residents of the Southern Kikuyu District, only raiders, or generally people with sinister intentions, appeared uninvited at the time of harvest,” the book says.
Although he and Waiyaki signed a “brotherhood” treaty, Waiyaki’s suspicion increased as Lugard started scouting for land. It was heightened by the increasing theft of food after the community refused to supply grains to Fort Smith and antagonised porters working for a Captain Nelson and traders heading to Uganda. This original fort was abandoned in 1891 after clashes between the traders and locals. The next was built by Captain Eric Smith and was known as Fort Smith but proved to be unreliable in grain supply. This led to raids by caravan traders in search of grain and it sparked deep enemity that eventually led to the death of Waiyaki.
This books gives a solid base for an academic study of Waiyaki and his place in the history of Kenya.