THE MOST MIGHTY CHIEF
OF THE KIKUYU KINGDOM
By Manasseh Rukungu wa Njirimani
(Rukungu of Germany - the writer went to German in 1964 and he has been there since. He now lives with his family in Dusserdolf, German).
Senior Chief Njiiri wa Karanja,MBE:
Who was really this unordinary and highly respected man from the largest tribe of Kenya, the Kikuyus? - a man who never saw the inside of the modern classroom, that means who was not at all educated, who could not write down his name, but who could sign his documents through thumb-prints - a man who was most famous also beyond the borders of his Location-Two and Murang´a District, that is why he was known as "Senior Chief"- a man who had unimaginable deep roots of the kikuyu Tradition and didn't believe in The white man's GOD and church, but in Kikuyu NGAI and Mugumo Tree, the church of the Kikuyus (later in late nineteen sixties Senior Chief Njiiri joined Catholic Church, he as baptised and married one of his wives Beth Njeri in a church in 1966) - a man who had the most wives in the Kikuyu Kingdom, just imagine a single MAN who was never exhausted in serving 42 wives - a man whose children, his grandchildren (including misterseed himself) and grand-grand-children (including misterseed´s children) can today only be searched, traced and counted through the modern methods of Computer - a man who was hated by many of the Mau-Mau Uhuru (independence) fighters, because he was loyal to the former British colonial rulers - a man who was the most rich with largest land and domestic animals in the Kikuyu, Embu and Meru Kingdom - a man who was physically unordinary strong and who had a deep commanding voice which one would have mistaken with that of a lion in the Kenya Savannah defending his family - a man who, wherever he appeared in his traditional leather wearing, at Kinyona market or elsewhere, people used to stand up when greeting him. My dear reader and listener, this was just a short introduction about this Kikuyu giant - and now follows a short story about how I came to experience personally this hero, my neighbour and my chief in my life:
It is very funny how it all came about: I was born in 1939 and at my childhood and youth time when I attended Kinyona Primary School, I had never thought, not even a single minute, that one day in my life, I, a tiny thing, would sit together, talk together, eat together and drink together with this most mighty Kikuyu Chief. At school we had a special lesson "civics" in which we used to learn about our rulers: our government, our Provincial-and district officers, our location chiefs and village-headmen, but I never thought that I would, one day, shake hands with this most feared man with most high Charisma in Kikuyu Kingdom. But I do believe that God knew this long, long time before I was born.
This uneducated man, cultivator of African civilisation, Senior Chief Njiiri, was one of the very first men in the Kikuyu Highlands, to send one of his uncountable children to study "Overseases", and just imagine still in the colonial era. A man who never knew what "EDUCATION" really meant. He was the former Minister Kariuki Karanja Njiri, better known when he was still alive as (Hon.K.K.Njiiri). He studied in United States of Amerika and I was very proud of him having returned back home to our village Kinyona with a "BA Degree" in the pocket, the very first person most highly educated in our region whose success was a dream of his generations after. He was far much older than me, we were never close friends, but we knew each other well because we attended the same school Primary School at Kinyona, but what happened later was just unbelievable and like a miracle: When he returned from United States he joined immediately our very first Kenya government after achieving Uhuru under our very first President Mtukufu Baba wa Taifa Jomo Kenyattah and was elected an assistant Minister for Local-Goverment, and later served as an assistsnt Minister for Natural-Resources and Wild Life. At that time I was working as a Head-Teacher in Muteria and Gathambara Primary Schools near Thika Town, after having completed my studies at Thika and Thogoto Teacher Training Colleges. Nevertheless I still was very enthusiastic also to "FLY" to overseas to further my education like Mr. KK. At that time Marehemu K.K. was responsible for further education at the offices of the ruling-party, KANU, in Nairobi, a chance which he used in a clever way to search young people who were interested to go to study overseas. Within a short time he discovered me and other young people from Kinyona region and elsewhere.
Through his assistance I went to study Journalism in the former Czechoslovakia and Germany. And when I retuned back home to Kinyona with my Diploma in the pocket, Mr. K.K. was very proud of me and even started to treat me like his younger brother or son. I used to feel this because he enjoyed my company as his Bodyguard wherever he went, for example when he went to meet his fellow politicians and high ranking personalities, what made me feel sometimes like his " assistant minister". Not only that, but he had offered me accommodation in a special room in his house at Riruta in northern of Nairobi. Every time and again he used to invite me to accompany him in his minister-car to visit his father Njiiri at Kinyona. And whenever we arrived at his family-village, Senior Chief wa Karanja, used to welcome me with both arms as if I was one of his many younger sons. I believe he was proud, that I also had a chance to go to study overseas, through his son´s assistance. We used to chat together at his "Thingira" "special Kikuyu men´s house", and his very first formal question was "Rukungu ! Kwerwo atia? That means "Rukungu, how are things? And I used to reply him also formaly "Gutiri na uru Munene" That means " Things are OK Mr. Chief." Although this was not quite true, because I was still jobless and was still waiting to join the former Voice of Kenya. He wanted especially to hear more from me about Wazungu (Europeans) who had come to colonise and to rule us in Africa, rather than about American missionaries. I wish I would have been present when Senior Chief Njiiri wa Karanja was visited once by the Queens Elisabeth´s sister, Princess Margaret and President Jomo Kenyattah.
I am telling you, I used to feel as if I had suddenly a second "Grandfather", I really felt honored greatly especially because I didn't originate from Chief-Njiiri`s Clan, but from the second famous Clan in our region of Mwarangu wa Kagunda.
May be that Chief Njiiri wa Karanja was born in 1866, but to my opinion, nobody can tell exactly the date when such a man like Njiiri wa Karanja and his generation was really born in 19th century, because we had not yet the modern Calendar and in addition to that who in Kikuyu Land could write and read before the colonial and missionary era ? I my self, born only later in 20th century, would NOT dare to guess how old this great man was when he died in 1974, but at least I believe that he had crossed the border of a century. I can only say, since I came to know him in my childhood and youth time, this great man never changed his appearance till his death, the older he used to be, the younger and stronger he used to appear. I used to compare him which the Baganda Mfalme in Uganda, King Kabaka or with the Lion of Judah, Haile Selasie of Ethiopia.
Anyway, I am proud today to say that, in my life I came across an extraordinary mighty Kikuyu Chief, a chance which many, many, young people of my generation would have liked to have. When he died and later on his great son Marehemu K.K. Njiiri through a car accident, I felt as if I had lost suddenly one of my Grandfathers and brothers. Dear reader and listener, if you want to see the author of this article, just click Misterseed´s Website "Simple, but well known", but DON'T make a mistake, I am not well known like Senior Chief Njiiri wa Karanja.
The writer Mr. Rukungu has been living in Germany since 1964. He is married to a beautiful German Lady and they have a son. How has life been outside Kenya for that long Bw. Rukungu? Please write a story about life outside Kenya and how Germany was at that time. How is life today? His email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit us later for more of him...................coming soon!