J.M. Kariuki

Album: not on an album (1975)

Songfacts®:

  • Josiah Mwangi Kariuki served as a minister in the Kenya Government from independence until his assassination on March 2, 1975.

    It was widely believed that he was killed at the behest of someone in the government. Kariuki was of a left wing persuasion, probably his most famous quote was that after independence, Kenya had become a nation of ten billionaires and ten million beggars. The irony is that although not a billionaire, he was himself a very wealthy man. Kariuki died intestate, and his three wives were still squabbling over who got what a decade and more on.

    Kariuki was popularly known as JM, and this benga song, written by Joseph Kamaru, says whoever ordered his assassination would one day be rolled in a beehive watched by the entire population - a traditional punishment for thieves and witches.

    Clearly it struck the wrong note as it was banned by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation on June 20, 1975. According to an essay by Peter Muhoro Mwangi in a 2006 book about music censorship in Africa, it is said to have earned Kamaru and his collaborators a whipping by the President himself after their arrest. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England

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