HISTORY SHORTS: FIELD MARSHAL MUSA MWARIAMA

Field Marshal Musa Mwariama ( 1928–1989, born M’Kiribua M’Muchiri) was one of the four main Mau Mau leaders along with Dedan Kimathi, Stanely Mathenge and Waruhiu Ihote (General China). He was in command of the Meru Region partly covering the Meru side of Mt. Kenya and the forests of Nyambene Hills.

The book titled “The Last Mau Mau Field Marshals: Kenya’s freedom war 1952-63 and Beyond : Their own Story. 1993” by David Njagi is arguably the best description out there of this valiant and charismatic soldier.

In a very well written book, Field Marshal Mwariama narrates to the author the events leading to his army’s departure from the forest and their “reintegration” into society. (For those interested, Njagi’s book can be read online in its entirety here)

The feature photo shown at the beginning of this article of the Field Marshal with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta that was taken on December 8 1963 tells of the triumphant and fitting welcome (albeit short-lived) Mwariama received when he and his 2000 men-strong army put their arms down and embraced the new African government at independence.

According to Njagi, prior to traveling to Nairobi for this  meeting with Kenyatta,  a large homecoming party had been thrown for Mwariama and his army at Rirungu stadium, Nyeri. Top dignitaries from the new African government were on hand to receive his convoy of about 490 cars that had snaked down from the forest passing through Mwariama’s home and finally all the way to Nyeri where they surrendered their arms.

The book portrays Field Marshal Mwariama as a pragmatist who quickly realizes that the realities of post-independence Kenya did not favor former freedom fighters. Despite the humiliations that he and his fellow freedom fighters faced at the hands of the local authorities, including his imprisonment in 1964, he urged his army to accept whatever resettlement land was offered to them. In an act of humility, he also accepted the same size of land his soldiers received. (Worse fate befell the other great Field Marshal from Meru,  Baimungi Marete who was killed in 1965 in a confrontation with the local authorities)

Mwariama’s wife, Jacinta Mwariama was also a freedom fighter who fought alongside her husband and went by the name “General Nkobia”. In the book, she also offers her vivid memories of their homecoming having traveled in the same car with her husband. She talks of the deep suspicion they still harbored for the authorities and the precautions they took during the homecoming in case they were attacked.

Those with the idea that Field Marshal Mwariama’s army was just a rag-tag group of fighters will be disappointed on reading Njagi’s book. It reveals a highly disciplined and well-oiled war machine under a truly gifted leader that was ready to fight. (Despite the colonial government earlier in 1956 declaring total victory on the Mau Mau)

It is said that Field Marshal Mwariama died in 1989 from snake poison that he had accidentally swallowed while trying to save a friend from a snake bite. True courage and sacrifice in both life and death. Wikipedia

Musa Mwariama Kenya Gazette

Intrestingly this Kenya Gazette posting of May 18th 2007 shows Musa Mwariama died on 18th September 1993 and not in 1989 as stated in Wikipedia page.