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Police station that was built to hold Mau Mau fighters

Monday October 21 2019

mau mau

The K9 facility in Nyeri County on October 20, 2019. It used to be a police station. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

CYNTHIA WAMBUGU
By CYNTHIA WAMBUGU
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At the height of the Mau Mau insurgency during the State of Emergency in 1952, the colonial government’s biggest headache was containing freedom fighters.

To check their movement, the colonial guards set up a checkpoint at Ruring’u on the old Nyeri-Nairobi highway.

It was here that the fighters moving around Nyeri and those moving in and out of concentration camps were arrested.

They were held in detention camps in Ruring’u and Aguthi before being taken to the colonial courts in Ruring’u, which were established in the 1920s.

The arrest of huge numbers of Mau Mau fighters was among the reasons a police station was established.

And later, in 1956, the British government approached Aithiegeni clan elders to set aside 85 acres of land for the construction of key administrative structures, including the provincial sports hostel, the Nyeri Police Station, a chiefs office and a juvenile remand home that would also act as a children’s home.

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LAND PURCHASE

At that time, land was communally owned under clans, so the British needed to bring the locals on board, especially the collaborators.

That is how 12 elders from the Aithiegeni clan gave up the 85 acres to the colonialists for the structures, including the Nyeri Police Station — now Ruring’u Police Station — and the Central Regional K9 Unit Headquarters.

“The dog unit was previously a colonial police station. It was part of the main installations that the British built on the old Nyeri-Nairobi road. This was before the current highway was built,” explained Nyeri-based historian Antony Maina.

The initial structures comprised the main station, offices and holding cells, which are still being used.

After Kenya gained independence in 1963, the structure was taken over by the Kenya Police, which converted it into the dog unit.

DOG UNIT

It was among the first K9 facilities set up under the Kenya Police by the postcolonial government. “It has always been a dog unit and a police station since independence. Actually, most of the buildings are still the way back then,” Mr Maina said.

The station still has a rustic touch, with doors that have been renovated and painted numerous times.

This year, new staff quarters and kennels were built. The station currently houses some of the country’s best trained dogs, which are used during security surveillance and special criminal operations.

The dogs are trained in tracking skills, as well as narcotics and explosives detection.

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