How Dedan Kimathi Was Executed by the Colonial Government

  • Kenyans, on Monday, celebrated the 62nd anniversary of the execution of the famous freedom fighter, Dedan Kimathi.

    New details have, however, emerged indicating that there was push and pull about how to execute Dedan Kimathi soon after a colonial court sentenced him to hang.

    The information was revealed by the papers of the colonial Nyeri district information officer Alistair Matheson who passed away in September 2002.

    An extract from Matheson’s collection of documents revealed that as soon as the verdict of sentencing Kimathi was pronounced, many jubilant Whites poured into the streets demanding that he be hanged in public.

    The white settlers in the Mt. Kenya region wanted the sentencing of Kimathi to pose “as a lesson and deterrent to the rest of the natives who’d wish to challenge the empire.”

    Whites were of the opinion that the act of public execution of Kimathi would also imply humiliation to the Mau Mau, who will see their captured leader “hanged by the rope until he died.”

    Even so, the colonial office in London highly objected acts of public hanging, which were observed as “an affront to British sensibilities.”

    More specifically, the British government was convinced that the public execution will cause an uproar in the British parliament wherein there was a pre-existing sense of demands for stopping brutal suppression of Kenya’s liberation movement.

    Additionally, the colonial government was concerned with the development of backlash by offering the freedom fighters a good reason to escalate their struggles of fighting for freedom. The Kikuyu would also gather sympathy from other Kenyan communities that were not actively involved in the fight.

    In actuality, the documents of Matheson term the proposals for the public execution as something “as silly as open execution of Kimathi.”

    A temporary wooden tower was therefore hurriedly made outside Nyeri Court for the secret execution of Kimathi before his body was transported to Kamiti in Nairobi for disposal soon after.

    The wooden structure was also covered with a large canvas to conceal it before the execution.

    Details indicate that the freedom fighter was escorted into the structure at dawn before being hurriedly executed.

    According to Matheson, the wooden tower idea was implemented by the colonial government by order of the office in London.