In Summary
  • It is here that rulings for serious crimes such as murder and robbery were made. It was built in 1924 and began functioning a year later.
  • At the end of the Mau Mau uprising in the 1960s, it was at Ruring’u Stadium that the freedom fighters surrendered their weapons.

At a glance, the Nyeri Museum in Ruring’u, on the outskirts of Nyeri Town, might not appear to offer much, yet behind it lies a rich history.

The building, which looks like an ordinary residential house, once served as a native law court, and dates back to the pre-independence period.

It is here that rulings for serious crimes such as murder and robbery were made. It was built in 1924 and began functioning a year later.

It is not clear how the name Ruring’u, the area in which it is located, came about; but some people say that it is a mispronounciation of the word “ruling” by the local residents.

The area’s association with the legal term is attributable to the fact that it hosted the first law court in Nyeri set up by the British colonialists.

It was here that African were tried using customary law under the segregationist British colonial policy.

CIVIL CASES

The court was initially run by British settlers, but local elders were later incorporated to arbitrate on civil matters.

The courtroom has a medieval times design, where the judge and elders sat on one end, and relatives and witnesses around the room, leaving an open space in the middle.

The accused would stand at the centre at the end opposite the judges and elders.

Among the items from the colonial era on display at the museum are the heavy metal helmets and shields used by court askaris. And on the walls are photos of the askaris in the colonial uniform, with the trademark khaki shorts.

The museum’s collections offer a glimpse into what might have led to anti-colonialst activism, which culminated in the country’s independence.

PENALTY

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