By Maina Kiarie
Kapenguria is a town in Kenya lying north east of Kitale near Saiwa Swamp National Park. The town functions as the capital of the West Pokot District.
Kapenguria is home to Kapenguria museum which was officially opened on September 19, 1993. The museum is a regional museum under the jurisdiction of the Directorate of Museums, Sites and Monuments of the National Museums of Kenya. The museum is housed in the prison in which Kenya African Union (KAU) leaders- Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Kungu Karumba, Fred Kubai, Paul Ngei, Bildad Kaggia and the Ramogi Achieng Oneko – were incarcerated after their sentencing on April 1953. The KAU leaders and Mau Mau members were arrested during a mass arrest operation carried out by the colonial government on the night of 20/21 October 1952 dubbed Operation Jock Scott.
Court proceeding against the six KAU leaders (today popularly known as the ‘Kapenguria six’) were opened on December 3, 1952 by the Deputy Public Prosecutor Anthony Somerhough. The defendants were charged with jointly managing a proscribed society, Mau Mau, which had conspired to murder all white residents of Kenya.
The foundation of the museum is the cells, the ethnographic galleries and the Pokot homestead. Displays in the museum include books and documents in a memorial library in honour of all heroes who participated in the struggle for Kenya’s independence. The Pokot gallery whose establishment is credited to anthropologist Mrs Anny Mulder houses artefacts and photographic collections on the Pokot people.
Apart from galleries reflecting Kenya’s political development and the attainment of independence by Kenya in 1963, other items on display include cultural material of the Pokot, Cherangani and Sengwer people.