Daily Nation (Kenya) - - WEEKEND - John Ka­mau

Book ti­tle: Waiyaki wa Hinga: The Un­told Story

Au­thor: Njoroge Regeru Pub­lisher: Regsco Hold­ings Lim­ited

Year: 2018

Price: Sh1,600

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.

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