1920’s East Africa– “AFRICAN UNREST”
Note: this entry is posted earlier than the usual Monday due to celebrating my 30th anniversary.)
The name “Harry Thuku” has appeared in the Jade del Cameron mysteries as a man who inspired the Kikuyu, Jelani, to protest colonial treatment of the Kikuyu. In particular, Jelani protested the travel restrictions and imposed labor.
But who was Harry Thuku? The Leader of British East Africa (March 18, 1922) characterizes him as “a native agitator” who has held “frequent meetings in the reserves where he gathered together on several occasions thousands of Wakikuyu and discussed alleged grievances and political questions.” He also was alleged to have written and produced “a quantity of literature couched generally in biblical terms on native political affairs.” They were considered “not particularly violent or anti-European.” And he was arrested.
But why was he arrested if his meetings and literature were non-violent? That question wasn’t addressed by the newspaper, however, the results of the arrest were. And they were violent. “As an immediate result of the above arrest, a mass meeting of natives was held in Pangani village yesterday evening, which terminated in a large body of natives marching into town and heading for the police lines near the Norfolk Hotel where Thuku is incarcerated.” By the time they reached their destination, they were “1,000 strong”
and many were “armed with heavy sticks.” Rickshaw drivers “turned out” their European passengers and joined the massive gathering. All the makings of a decent riot were in play.
Every available officer and askari was called on to form a line complete with fixed bayonets. The crowd of Kikuyu “immediately seated themselves in the thoroughfare and demanded the release of Thuku.” The crowd was ordered to disperse but their reply was that they intended to stay all night if necessary. They were then warned by the police “that force would be resorted to if necessary.”
The crowd did disperse before anyone could be harmed but only after the Chief of Police “had agreed to see a representative deputation of Wakikuyu regarding any alleged grievances this morning.” Not all the Kikuyu left Nairobi. “Bands of natives patrolled the town until late into the night. There was an ugly feeling abroad and the police stood to arms.”
Readers of the Jade del Cameron series will recall Jelani’s arrest for agitation as well in both The Leopard’s Prey and The Crocodile’s Last Embrace.
Headline and quotes taken from The Leader of British East Africa, March 18, 1922.
By the way, The Crocodile’s Last Embrace received a starred review by Publishers’ Weekly who called it “rip-roaring.” Romantic Times gave it 4 Stars and called it “Enormously fun” and Library Journal’s starred review stated “Do not miss this one.”
And Mark of the Lion is now available in the U.K. via Piatkus Books. Stalking Ivory and The Serpent’s Daughter will soon follow.
Next week: More Nairobi news:
SPEAKING OF NEWS!
*****Piatkus UK is offering Mark of the Lion and Stalking Ivory in the UK. Brand new covers! The Serpent’s Daughter will follow in January.********* http://www.piatkus.co.uk/Genre/Crime-and-Thriller
NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, Treasure of the Golden Cheetah and THE CROCODILE’S LAST EMBRACE. An excerpt and information on ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda and on facebook to http://www.facebook.com/pages/Suzanne-Arruda-Mystery-Writer/165784103431688?ref=ts
Africa, Jade del Cameron, Kenya, Nairobi, Harry Thuku, Wakikuyu, The Leopard's Prey, The Crocodile's Last Embrace, The Leader of British East Africa, protests