Inside Mau Mau torture chambers in Kinangop


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The century-old building stands imposingly in about a quarter acre parcel of land, having survived numerous acts of vandalism.

The Old Tulaga Colonial Court is located at Tulaga Sub-Location in Kinangop, Nyandarua County.

Among the historical documents littering the floor are a taxpayer’s card dated 1958 — when Kenyans paid Sh25 annual levy to the colonial government — and a letter by a District Commissioner terminating the services of an Administration Police officer Stephen Karanja Njoroge, who the document says was involved in a shooting incident.

Apparently, the officer opened fire on a matatu and seriously injured four passengers in February 1986.

We also came across certificates of imprisonment for a number of people for diverse offences between the 1950s and 1980s.
According to the building’s caretaker Ndegwa Maina, 70, the building was constructed by a colonial settler called Martin Lay, nicknamed Kinyahwe, in 1915.

Kinyahwe Old Tulaga Colonial Court

Mr Ndegwa Maina, 70, at Kinyahwe Old Tulaga Colonial Court in Kinagop Constituency, Nyandarua County. PHOTO | WAIKWA MAINA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In one of the rooms is a big safe that is locked to this day. There have been several attempts to break it open, but so far, the attempts have been unsuccessful.

Other documents include court files, land transactions and colonial administrative documents marked ‘Colony and Protectorate of Kenya’.

There are some that are rubber-stamped African Court Njabini, and date back to the 1950s and 1980s.

The building has a smooth block wall. According to Mr Muchai Wanyoike, 87, prisoners were responsible for the great handiwork.

“Those who failed to meet the standards were heavily punished and denied their wages for the day,” Mr Wanyoike said.

Maumau torture chambers

Mr Ndegwa Maina, 70, emerging from an underground cave used as Maumau torture chambers at Kinyahwe Old Tulaga Colonial Court in Kinagop Constituency, Nyandarua County. PHOTO | WAIKWA MAINA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Inside is a wooden floor and hidden is a tiny entrance to a dungeon constructed underneath the house where Mau Mau freedom fighters or suspected sympathisers were detained and tortured during the state of emergency.

Mr Wanyoike said the colonial government used safari ants and rats to torture their prisoners. “It’s very dark inside,” he said.
After Kenya was declared a republic in 1964, the government acquired the building, which went on to house the Kinangop Law Courts, District Officer’s Headquarters and Lands ministry offices.
Nyandarua County government will partner with the National Museums of Kenya to renovate it.

“The building has a rich history that we must preserve for generations to come; all we await is for it to be gazetted as a national monument,” said Tourism executive Simon Ng’ang’a.


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