‘Women, Come and Roast your Own Ram!’ Recollections on Mau-Mau General Chui wa Mararo (1927–1956)
Little has been written about General Chui (1927–1956), the unique and charismatic fighter during Kenya’s war of independence, yet he worked hand-in-hand with Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi Wachiuri, the overall commander of Kenya Land and Freedom Army (KLFA), also called Mau- Mau fighters. Kibara wa Mararo, later General Chui, who came from Meiria residence, Mugaya Estate, Kamuiru village of Mutira location, Ndia Division of the present day Kirinyaga County, Kenya, became a household name, and a hero to the then marginalised African populace, after the famous Mbaara ya Rui Ruiru (battle of river Ruiru). In this war of 1953, which took place on the border of Nyeri district (which was elevated to a County in 2010) and the old Embu district (which constitutes Kirinyaga and Embu counties), Kibara wa Mararo went disguised himself as a regional inspector of the police. Clad in full colonial army uniform, he was able to trick some security officers and the loyalists who were derogatorily called Tukonia (empty sacks). This made them quickly rush to meet their boss. In a twinkle of an eye, the coded language (kebunoko) was sounded calling the Mau-Mau fighters who eventually turned their guns on the officers thereby wiping them clean in one blow. It is from there that the Mau-Mau high command declared him an army general. Since then, he became known as General Chui – ‘Chui’ meaning the sharp leopard. As Kenya marked its 50 years of independence (1963–2013), with pomp and colour, the sacrificial role of General Chui re-appears as one wonders: how was such a military genius finally ambushed at River Rwamuthambi’s Riakiania mushy cave and subsequently shot dead by the colonial forces? Did the surrendering Mau-Mau soldiers betray him, General Magazine and the other fighters who died of gun shot wounds at the Riakiania scene? Again, what were his political ideals? In its methodology, the article begins by retracing the nature of Mau-Mau movement citing the key issues that possibly caused it. It then moves on to chronicle General Chui wa Mararo as a case study. The materials in this presentation are largely gathered through interviews and archival sources.