Politics, Tragedy

The Deep State-Edward Maroncha

(I wrote this story as a short story in February 2018 under the title The Chuka Tragedy. I have changed the title of the story because I do not want the novella to be about that single event).

The small town of Chuka is gripped by shock. In fact, the entire country is in shock. People are talking in whispers in salons and barbershops.  Others are glued to the TV screens in restaurants and in their homes as they follow the breaking news. Bars in Chuka are packed, but the usual rowdiness is missing. The mood is somber. Forty people are dead, including twenty four school children. Many more are injured. Chuka Level Five Hospital and Chogoria Mission Hospital are almost overwhelmed. Traffic on the Nkubu-Thuchi road is primarily composed of wailing ambulances, police vehicles and television vans. A number of the high profile patients have been flown to the Nairobi Hospital and the Aga Khan University Hospital.

It is not just the number of casualties that is shocking, even though those numbers are high enough to grab national attention.  But in addition to the numbers, the names of some of the casualties are adding to the national horror. The Governor of Meru County, Her Excellency Ms. Lizbeth Kathambi is dead. Two members of the County executive and the Speaker of the County Assembly of Meru have perished with her. The Governor of Tharaka-Nithi County, His Excellency Cyrus Mutwiri is also dead, as is the Vice Chancellor of Chuka University, Prof. Margret Kananu. Sirens are blaring across Tharaka Nithi County as ambulances and police vehicles dart to and from the scene.

A massive accident has occurred at the notorious Nithi Bridge.

The leaders of the two counties had been travelling in a convoy. The convoy had been on the ascent, having crossed the bridge on its way to Chuka, when a petrol tanker lost control and rammed into the lead vehicle. Behind the convoy were several other vehicles, including a school bus, three fourteen seater matatus, a PSV bus and several private cars. According to reports that are streaming in from the media, the petrol tanker pushed the lead vehicle into the vehicle behind it then spun and continued racing downhill. A little further down, it hit the school bus then exploded into a ball of fire, spewing petrol and fire in all directions.

The convoy had left the Mugwe Hotel a few minutes earlier. Mugwe Hotel is a new ultra-modern hotel in Marima, a small market that is on one side of the Nithi Valley, about 10 minutes-drive away from Chuka town. Prof Kananu had just brokered a truce between the two governors, and they were headed to her University to jointly launch the Chuka University School of Aviation and the Chuka Airstrip. They were both her friends, and she had been tasked by the President, another friend of hers, to bring them together.

The governors had been engaged in a bitter supremacy battle since the last election four years ago. Both of them were youthful lawyers. Mr. Mutwiri had been the Director of Public Prosecutions before contesting and winning the Tharaka Nithi gubernatorial seat. He had upset the then sitting governor and veteran politician Kamundi Muthee.

Mr. Mutwiri and Ms. Kathambi had been fighting over the control of Mount Kenya region. Mr. Mutwiri, 44, had the advantage of having held a visible public office at the national level. He had the support of many Mount Kenya politicians and businessmen, including the Governors, Senators and several MPs from Nyeri, Kiambu, Murang’a and his own Tharaka Nithi County. There are rumors that he wanted to vie for the Presidency.

Ms. Kathambi, 39, was the founder of a prosperous law firm that had eight branches across the country. She was also the first female governor of Meru County. She was a close associate of the President. In fact, it was rumored that the President was grooming her to be his running mate. In addition to her near-fanatical following in Meru County, Ms. Kathambi enjoyed support in Embu and Kirinyaga counties.

Governor Kathambi was also said to be quietly supported by retired President Jemimah Makau, who is said to be keen to have another woman close to the Presidency. Even in retirement, Mrs. Makau still enjoys popular support in Ukambani.

It is common knowledge that the Deputy President wants to challenge his boss in the upcoming election, so the President has been looking for a replacement. The President had been hoping to use the youthful female governor to take a significant chunk of the Mount Kenya votes. She would also appeal to the youth and women. The President is an old man, and was the Senator of Kakamega County before President Makau picked him to be her running mate.

While half of the vote in Mount Kenya region would probably be enough to see him win a second term, the whole of the region would ensure that he defeats his Deputy with a landslide. That is why he has been very keen on uniting the two politicians and getting them to support his re-election bid. It is surprising that politicians from the Meru community had somehow managed to get their Kikuyu and Embu cousins to support them.

For a very long time Mount Kenya region has been disjointed and plagued by internal rivalries. That would explain why there hasn’t been a President or even a Deputy President from the region since the retirement of the fourth President. But that looked set to change with the rise of Mr. Mutwiri and Ms. Kathambi. If someone managed to unite them, then Mount Kenya would reemerge as a dominant political force. And Professor Kananu had done just that, minutes before the three of them perished.

Prof. Kananu was almost like a daughter to the President and his wife. They have known her since she was a student at Masinde Muliro University. Since she had been friends with the two governors, she had offered to try to somehow convince them to unite support the President’s re-election bid.


Retired President Jemimah Makau had been a compromise candidate, one supported grudgingly by a section of Mount Kenya politicians and businessmen to outdo a rival local boy. They had hoped to kick her out after one term, but she had proved to be a shrewd politician and forged new alliances that won her the re-election.

When she was retiring, Mount Kenya region was still hopelessly fragmented, and her deputy, Bradley Wesonga, sailed through to the Presidency. President Wesonga enjoys support in Western, Rift Valley and in Mrs. Makau’s Ukambani backyard. His Deputy, Jamal Edmund, enjoys support in Nyanza and the coastal regions. He has of late become convinced that he can wrestle at least a chunk of the expansive Rift Valley region away from the President. The unification of Mount Kenya was the only huddle in his quest to unseat his boss. If the region united behind the President, and it looked set to do so, then he would lose hopelessly. He had reached out to Mr. Mutwiri in the past, but the Tharaka Nithi Governor wasn’t interested in being his Deputy.

So if there is one person who stands to benefit from the accident, it is the Deputy President. With the death of Kathambi and Mutwiri, he doesn’t have to worry about a united Mount Kenya anymore.


Chuka Police headquarters is in chaos. Senior police officers in the county are huddled in the County Police Commander’s office. They know heads will roll, and theirs are on the chopping board. When they were ordered from higher up to let the Mutethia Store’s tanker pass, they had assumed Kaaria had decided to be smart and bribed the senior bosses. They had fumed because of the lost revenue. But now they know that the purpose of the tanker was to cause the accident. They now know that someone very senior in government wanted the governors dead. And that person cannot be the President.

The owner of Mutethia Stores, Benjamin Kaaria, is a corrupt local thug who pays huge bribes to the local police to avoid arrest.  Officially, he is a wholesale trader. He has a chain of wholesale stores in several towns, two hardware stores and six petrol stations.  But everyone knows that he controls a criminal business empire, from manufacture of illicit brew to running brothels with teenage girls to illegal logging. In fact, he controls the police in six counties: Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Isiolo, Kirinyaga and Laikipia. That way, his lorries and pickup trucks carry contraband across those counties with relative ease.

The senior police officers at Chuka know that the President is an intelligent and experienced man, and sooner or later he will figure out that the accident was planned. And he will come after them.

They could blame the officers who had been manning the road block, or they could push the blame higher up. They know that while the President is a warm grandfather on most days, he is a coldly ruthless politician when he is crossed. And this accident has crossed him on so many levels. Innocent lives have perished, and they all know that the President genuinely cares for his people. Especially children. And there was a school bus in that crash. Second, his presidential ambitions have taken a hit in that accident. Ms. Kathambi and Mr. Mutwiri are dead. His chances of beating his Deputy have significantly reduced.

Pushing the blame on the juniors, led by Sergeant Stella, would be an easy way out. But she will squeal on them. After receiving the orders from the regional headquarters in Embu, the OCS and the Traffic Commander had personally ordered Stella to let the tanker pass.

The President would certainly love to have the scalp of senior officers. But pushing the blame upwards would take the President off their backs, but their lives, and those of their families, would be in danger. The men higher up are hardened criminals in police uniform. And the man they work for is a monster.

Then a call comes through and solves their problems.

“The bosses in Embu want us to clean house,” the County Police Commander says.

“What does that mean?”

“It means that we eliminate Sergeant Stella, quietly of course. We blame her for not stopping and inspecting the tanker. But the guys at Embu are not expecting problems. They say the tanker was in good condition, the driver was sober and there was no contraband in that lorry. The report will say that the tanker’s brakes failed, and that matter will be closed. Not that an inspection will even be possible. The tanker and its driver got burnt beyond recognition. If questions are asked, the big boss will cover us,”

“Who is the big boss?” the OCS asks.

“The fellows at Embu are not saying, but we all know who would have wanted the governors dead.”


Sergeant Stella is in her house, traumatized. It is already getting dark. She knows that her goose is cooked. No doubt about that. She had let the tanker pass without checking whether the driver was sober or whether it was in good condition. Now scores of people are dead, including twenty four children and two governors. The other policemen had barely looked her way. It is well known that lorries and tankers belonging to Mutethia Stores are never impounded, for whatever reason. Stella usually doesn’t care, and stops them anyway, and if they are faulty she gets them towed to the police station.

They usually bribe the OCS and the traffic base commander and go away, but Stella sleeps well at night knowing that she did her job. But today the OCS and traffic commander personally instructed her not to mess with a Mutethia Store’s tanker. It wasn’t so much an order as a threat. So today when one of those tankers passed by, she did not even bother to stop it. They always get away anyway, even when she arrests them. So why bother, especially after being threatened? Besides, tankers hardly carry contraband. Even if it is carrying illicit brew instead of petrol, how can a police officer at a road block check? So she let it pass.

Then the accident. Stella knows that she will be the scape goat. What she isn’t sure is whether she should defend herself by saying that she was ordered by both the OCS and the Traffic Commander to leave the tanker alone. Of course they will deny, but she recorded the conversation. These days whenever she is summoned to any of the bosses’ offices she turns on the recorder in her phone. She knows the President will not be satisfied with the conviction of a sergeant. He will want the guys higher up. He is a good man, but he is also politician and will want to turn this to his political advantage. And the best way to do it is to have senior policemen hauled off to prison, then hold a press conference to emphasize his seriousness in fighting corruption. A mourning country will stand with him on that.

The only problem with that is that once her seniors are hauled to prison, they will activate their networks in the criminal world, people they have been giving protection for years, and she and her family will be butchered. In fact, come to think of it. These people know she might talk. So they might kill her before the investigation starts, because dead women don’t talk.

She is having a migraine. As she is looking for painkillers, there is a knock on the door. She freezes. Surely the end could not have come this soon.

[Continued Here]

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-pink-rose-flower-247670/


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4 thoughts on “The Deep State-Edward Maroncha”

  1. Christal says:

    Thank you for the great article

    1. Maroncha Edward says:

      Thank you Christal, keep reading

  2. Juls says:

    Where’s part 2 for this piece?

    1. Maroncha Edward says:

      Hi Juls. The earlier pieces like these ones did not have sequels

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