Josiah Mwangi Kariuki

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Mourning window for Kariuki, Nairobi, 1975.

Josiah Mwangi Kariuki or often simply: JM Kariuki (* March 21, 1929 - March 2, 1975 ) was a socialist member of parliament and minister in Kenya who was the victim of an unexplained political murder under the government of Jomo Kenyatta .

Childhood and youth

JM Kariuki was a Kikuyu and was born in the Rift Valley, a village called Kabati-ini . His parents were forced to move there from their area around Nyeri in 1928 to work as "squatters" (landless farm workers) on a farm in the " White Highlands " for low wages. The parents could not afford school fees permanently. Because he won a horse bet, he was able to pay for his primary school education. For the high school he went to King's College in District Wakiso in Uganda . In 1952 he returned to a troubled homeland.

Mau Mau fighter and socialist politician

When the new Governor Sir Evelyn Baring declared a state of emergency in October 1952 (it lasted until 1960), Kariuki joined the Mau Mau uprising by taking the oath. He became the liaison between Eldoret and Kisumu and was responsible for logistics. He ran a hotel as camouflage. In 1953 he was exposed and taken to various camps. He was not released until 1960, but immediately resumed political work. He visited Jomo Kenyatta in exile and founded the KANU in Nyeri . With Kenyatta's release and the country's independence, he worked as Kenyatta's private secretary from 1963 to 1969. During this time he developed an increasingly critical relationship to Kenyatta's style of government. He reviled the government for saying that because of corruption, land grabbing (instead of land reform) and the enrichment of the Kenyatta clique, Kenya had become a country of 10 millionaires and 10 million beggars. In 1974 he was elected Member of Parliament in the Nyandarwa North constituency and was assistant minister under Kenyatta from 1974-1975. During this time he became a millionaire, on the same dark channels that he denounced in others. Nevertheless, he was very popular among the common people and Kenyatta tried early to prevent the re-election of the sharp critic.

Political murder never atoned for

It is not entirely clear whether he was arrested. Police officers are said to have arrested him in the lounge of the Hilton Hotel. He was last seen alive outside the Hilton Hotel on March 2, 1975, accompanied by Kenyatta's bodyguards. A few days later, the Maassai shepherd Musaita ole Tunda found his animal-eaten body in a bush in the Ngong Mountains south of Nairobi . Kariuki's property and property were confiscated by the government. There were massive student protests after his funeral. A parliamentary committee was set up to investigate his murder, high officials from the police and administration, but also politicians were named in it. The bodyguards were generally linked to the murder. Parliament suspended its work for the first time since independence in 1963 to discuss the murder case.

On orders from Kenyatta, two high-ranking names were removed from the report. And no one was ever held accountable. Other critics were placed under house arrest. Bombs by a radical group (Poor's People Liberation Group) explode in Nairobi. The land question that Kariuki had posed so radically fell silent for years under the pressure.

Current status

JM Kariuki left three wives and numerous children who filed suits in a Nairobi court in September 2005 to solve the murder and seek compensation for economic and psychological loss.

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