British Soldier Frank Kitson Who Controlled Nairobi Pre-Jomo Kenyatta Era Dies

British soldier (Rtd) General Frank Kitson, who at one point served as the Provincial Military Intelligence Officer for the Nairobi Area, has died aged 97.

UK media outlets reported that the former commander passed away on January 2.

In his heydays, Kitson, who was born in London on December 15, 1926, also oversaw the Kiambu area during his tenure as a District Military Intelligence Officer and was part of a police force stationed in the country.

According to reports, the officer officially enrolled in the Rifle Brigade, a UK army, in 1945, after which he was posted to Kenya to fight Mau Mau 18 months later.

The late British General Frank Kitson.


Belfast Telegraph

At the time, Kenya’s founding President, Jomo Kenyatta, was regarded as the leader of the Mau Mau movement, which revolted against the then-British rule.

The number of Mau Mau fighters was estimated at over 15,000, compelling British soldiers to mount a stellar battle for a successful colonisation.

When he landed in Kenya, the Telegraph reported, Kitson did not have any intelligence training and that he was only assigned 3 assistants. To distinguish himself, he moved into a mud house away from the British Army quarters.

He served as a District Military Intelligence Officer for Kiambu, learning secrets about Mau Mau tactics for a year before he was promoted to be in charge of the larger Nairobi Area.

At his disposal were 20 officers and sergeants as well as 200 Africans who had earlier been regarded as terrorists but had since become loyal to him.

He served in Kenya for several years until his departure in 1957 for an assignment in British Malaya – a set of states on the Malay Peninsula and the island of Singapore – before his eventual return to the UK in 1958.

In later years, Kitson indicated that when he travelled to Kenya, he had seen a photo of Jomo Kenyatta carrying a spear while wearing animal skin, which gave him a distorted view of the Mau Mau.

In his sunset years, Kitson faced legal obstacles, including in 2015, where he was accused of being complicit in the death of a 47-year-old minibus driver killed in a grenade attack in 1993. 

Two members of another group tortured in 1971 also sued the former general in 2019.

The first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta.


Presidential Library, Museum and Exhibitions

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