Defiance and Activism During the Daniel Moi Presidency in Kenya



According to Chege (2009), the period between 1960s and 1990s witnessed immense activist activities in Kenya. In the 1960s and 70s there were many reacting to the Kenyatta regimes excesses while in the 1980s and 90s, there were also many reacting to the autocratic rule of president Moi. Interesting, both the Kenyatta and Moi regimes are considered to have been repressive and ruthless force was used to suppress any dissent. However, despite the suppression, many forms of activism and activists emerged prompted by the repressive nature of the regime.

Detention of Kenyans did not end with the colonialists. Actually, the Kenyatta regime used colonial tactics of divide and rule, ruthless suppression using the military and detention without trial to deal with any form of dissent. Many scholars and political activists were detained by the Kenyatta regime and detention continued with the introduction of Nyayo torture chambers under the Moi regime (Wanyiri 1998: Kinyatti, 1987).

Moi had been thought to be a moderate politician that was pro-democracy and socialist ideals (Kinyatti, 1987). However, the insecurity arising from power struggle against the Kikuyu elite and the 1982 coup seemed to have made President Moi borrow a leaf from the book of tyrannies. His regime was largely characterized by patronage and sycophancy. Any suspicion of dissent and state house operatives using the dreaded special branch would plot either assassination or detention without trial of the subject.

The most vibrant academic activists emerged in the 1960s and radical academic discourse was sustained until the 1990s. Many university lecturers and students were persecuted especially by the Moi regime. Many academics were detained without trial by the Kenyatta and Moi regime due to political activism. The state has always been suspicious towards the academicians due to the influence and critical capacity that academicians have.

During the Moi Era, narrates Chege (2009), scholars such as Ngugi wa Thiongo, Maina wa Kinyatti and Abdilatif Abdalla joined political prisoners such as Oginga Odinga, Martin Shikuku, Jean Marie Seroney, and Koigi wa Mwere in detention for criticizing the administration.  Others scholars that were detained or forced into exile by Moi include Ngugi wa Thiongo, Alamin Mazrui, Edward Oyugi, Maina Wa Kinyatti, Mukaru Ng‘ang‘a, Willy Mutunga, Katama Mkangi, Micere Mugo and E.S Atieno Odhiambo.

The detentions were not limited to lecturers. Students were not spared by the Kenyatta and Moi regime. Student agitation for better governance was pronounced and thus government involvement in university student affairs was high. There were government spies in universities, spying on the lecturers as well as the students. Some of the students who were expelled from university, detained and or had to run into exile included[1] Mwandawiro Mghanga, Tirop arap Kitur, Peter Ogego, Adungosi, Gacheche wa Miano, Other former university student leaders who were actively involved in activism include  James Orengo, Richard Onyonka,  P. L. O. Lumumba,  David Murathe and a more recent one Hassan Omar. P.L.O Lumumba was a prominent student leader but some accuse him of having betrayed his colleagues. There were others like Karl Marx who was never able to finish her studies.

During the Kenyatta and Moi regimes, many scholars and students influenced particularly by the Marxist perspectives were concerned about the welfare of the lower class (proletariat vs. bourgeois in Marxist terminology). The academicians felt they had an important role to play in showing the way on governance issues. According to Amutabi, the 1960s to the 1980s were the golden age of the University of Nairobi, because discourse in the university was dynamic. The university was “academically vibrant and tumultuous, a hub of political activism”[2] Discourse was not just advanced by university dons but their students were also actively involved in public debate on political and economic issues. Most students were keen on democratization and political reform as well as adoption of sound economic policies.

1978- Moi Becoming President
The ascendancy of Moi to power was seen as triumph of the smaller ethnic communities in Kenya. Moi was widely thought to be a socialist at heart who believed in equity in distribution of national resources. His presidency signaled the end of GEMA and Kiambu Mafia.  President Kenyatta died in 1978 and left behind a nation already operating on an ethnic logic. The Agikuyu (Kiambu Mafia) and other GEMA communities had created the impression that without a kikuyu, Kenya could not be governed. Using resources and influence amassed during the Kenyatta Era, they were pulling all stops to ensure a Kikuyu took the reins of power. When Moi succeeded Kenyatta, He was considered a passing cloud that would disappear sooner rather than later. 

1978- Moi released all of those held under Kenya's detention laws.
One of those released by Moi was Koigi Wa Wamwere[3]

1978- Disbandment of all ethnic associations
The first stem Moi took to tame GEMA and Kiambu mafia was to ban all ethnic associations in august 1978. All ethnic organizations including football clubs that were ethnic based were disbanded. Gor Mahia rebranded from Luo Union and AFC changed its name from Abaluhya Football Club

1978- Crackdown on Dissidents
Ensure those against him do not mobilize any further, president Moi on November 3 1978 declared the Preservation of Public Security Act without ratification by the Kenya parliament. It institutes a state of emergency and leads to the arrest of hundreds of political dissidents including university professors, students, and journalists.


1979- General election
Once Moi took over power upon Kenyatta’s death, he was elected as the President of Kanu on October 6, 1978 and became the sole party candidate for the post of President. On October10, 1978 President Moi was sworn in as Kenya's second president. Using his close allies, Kibaki and Njonjo, Moi began to consolidate power both in Kanu and in government (Ingham, 1990:99). Kenyatta had centralized power around the office of the president through the provincial administration. Moi inherited this system and purposed to replace officers in the system with those he considered as his allies. Ideologically, Moi declared that he would follow in Kenyatta’s footsteps (Nyayo).
The 1979 elections were an important step in consolidating Moi's position in KANU and Parliament. The KANU secretariat undertook to screen and clear prospective candidates a process marked by conflicting positions within the secretariat such that it was impossible for candidates to know whether he had met the necessary requirements (Weekly Review 21/11/79). The criterion for clearance was equally nebulous, as KANU's Organizing Secretary, Nathan Munoko[4] put it some of the conditions were:
(i)            Loyalty to KANU, the President and the Country
(ii)          Popularity -the principle of all acclamation
(iii)         Life membership to KANU was mandatory prior to nomination, and
(iv)         Branch recommendation was mandatory.

In the 1979 General Elections, Odinga and his former KPU associates were denied clearance despite having rejoined KANU - they failed the "loyalty test" and the Secretary General Robert Matano declared them security risks. Ex-KPU members attempted to sue the secretary general of KANU but with a directive from Moi, all of them, Oginga Odinga, Tom Okello Odongo, Acholla Mak Anyengo, Ochieng Oneko and Luke Obok were denied clearance. At the 1979 election, most of those who had been pro-change constitution movement lost the seats. For the first time, people like Masinde Muliro lost his seat since 1957 when he had joined LEGICO (Wandiba, 1996). To neutralize Kikuyu influence in cabinet, President Moi expanded the cabinet to accommodate regional and ethnic representation. To appease Luo Nyanza, before the elections, Odinga was appointed chairperson of Cotton Lint and Seed Marketing Board. He became a life member of KANU but was not cleared to vie for a political position leading to unrest and protests especially by university students (Ingham, 1990:107).

The 1980s

1980s-          Economic Woes
In the early 1980s, evidence grew that the Kenyan state was not a powerless tool of foreign multinationals but the puppet of domestic capitalists, but in part an independent actor. Moi government’s control over large and valuable set of assets left them vulnerable to exploitation by those holding the levers of political power. Access to the resources that the state commanded and the ability to direct them for personal gain and political purposes was in fact a fundamental driver for competitive politics. State resources were increasingly diverted into the parasitic sector, the off-book sector of the economy in which insiders extracted resources from the state for private benefit via bribery, abuses of procurement and benefits of office

It was widely believed, though un-provable, that by 1982 the nexus of accumulation was shifting from the Kikuyu to the Kalenjin. Moi himself was rapidly acquiring assets, generally in other names. Henry Cheboiwo bought a controlling interest in a transport company in 1981. Asian executive Naushad Merali and his company Sameer Investments, formed in 1983, almost immediately acquired 51 per cent of the US Firestone Company in curious circumstances. Local tyre dealers were refused foreign exchange to prevent counter-bid. Sameer’s other directors were Kanyotu and a law firm that often acted as Moi’s nominee.118


1980 -1982   Crackdowns
Despite Moi continuing to consolidate his position in Kanu and in the state machinery, succession clamor was still rife in the country because he was considered a mere “passing Cloud”. Njonjo at 60 in 1980 retired from civil service and joined politics. His political maneuvers threatened Kibaki who was the minister of Finance. In 1980, in a bid to win over the country, Moi implemented populist programs such as FPE, free milk and banning of ethnic associations. The ban on all ethnic associations targeted GEMA but others like Luo East Africa, Akamba Association and Abaluyia East Africa were also dissolved (Morton, 1998).
Due to factors beyond Moi’s control, e.g. Oil Crisis of the 70s and World Debt crisis of the 1980s, Kenya’s economy was declining (Morton, 1998). Against such a background, Moi had to deal with agitation from trade unions but also academicians who blamed his approach for the dwindling economic gains. Socialist leaning politicians like Odinga also kept criticizing the state control approaches by Moi. Between 1980s and 1982, the government had started a clampdown on critics. In May, 1982, Oginga Odinga was expelled from Kanu due to his alleged divisive politics. Around May of 1982, many radical lecturers and students were arrested and detained.
1982- Introduction of Section 2A
Up until July 1982, Kenya was a defacto one party state (Morton, 1998). However, following attempts by Odinga and Anyona to register a new party in June 1982, the government introduced an amendment and introduced section 2A which made Kenya a de jure one party state. This meant that KANU was the only legal political outfit and even independent candidates could not be allowed in elections. To contest any election, one had to do so in KANU. The opposition to this amendment led to Odinga being placed under house arrest while Anyona, John Khaminwa (lawyer), Maina wa Kinyatti (lecturer) and David Mukaru Ng’ang’a (lecturer) were detained (Kinyatti, 1987). The detentions led to George Githii of the standard writing critical article that led to his being fired from his job.
1981- Cooperative Movement in Trouble
To reduce the politicization of the cooperative movement, Moi demanded in late 1981 that all politicians resign from posts with the unions, but this did not prevent them competing by proxy. During 1982, there was a campaign against corruption in the movement and many cooperatives were liquidated.

The cooperative movement also experienced problems, including widespread allegations of malpractice and misuse of funds. Like most other aspects of society, cooperative unions were best developed in Central Province, which contained about one-third of rural cooperative members. Now, however, reports emerged of the embezzlement of millions of shillings during the 1970s, mostly in (not coincidentally) Central Province and Meru, and several cooperative unions collapsed as a result. There were growing delays in the payments to farmers, reflecting profitability and liquidity problems within the marketing chain.

Despite Kenya’s difficulties, the best connected prospered. Minister Oloitipitip, for example, boasted in 1982 that he could spend Ksh150 million (US$12 million) on his son’s wedding, and in a conflation of material and affective assets, claimed in 1981 that independence had been so good for him that he had ‘six cars, two big houses, 12 wives and 67 children’. Most ministers, unlike backbenchers, soon became wealthy. Senior politicians and civil servants took advantage of their positions to acquire land, take loans without any intent to pay, and receive payments in return for political protection.

1982- Corruption in the Civil Service
Despite Njonjo’s promise in 1978 to ‘clean Kenya of corruption’, it was worsened by Moi’s takeover, since a shakier president needed to buy support more overtly. Efforts at cleaning up corruption during 1978–82, including pressure to reverse the Ndegwa Report and end civil servants’ involvement in private business bore no fruit. During a debate in 1981, it emerged that civil servants, who had been required to declare their interests in 1973 by the Ndegwa Report, had refused to do so unless politicians were required to do the same. Shikuku quoted from a Sessional Paper on how far the situation had already declined:

. . . Some public servants utilize Government facilities in order to benefit themselves.     Some are said to tender for Government supplies and to see to it that their tenders are      always successful. Others are said to be in the habit of accepting rewards for work they            are paid to do by the Government.

In September 1982, the government again demanded civil servants declare their interests. Again, it was ignored. A year later, the government commissioned a National Code of Conduct, which yet again recommended a register of interests, the abolition of civil servants’ right to engage in private business, the appointment of an ombudsman and the sacking of officials under investigation for misdeeds. As usual, though, nothing was done. Talk was easy, but real action was to take another 20 years.

There was also evidence that the Harambee movement was becoming an informal taxation system: chiefs were extorting money for unspecified projects, while Harambee committees embezzled funds. Although Harambee was a devolved local development scheme, from which the poor benefited in general more than the rich, there was as much politics as ever and less voluntarism.


1982- Coup attempt in August
On 1st of August 1982, there was a coup attempt by disaffected soldiers, allegedly supported by Odinga and other Luo and Kikuyu politicians. Over 1,000 members of the armed forces were court-martialed over the incident. In the aftermath, hundreds of Kenyans considered opposed to the Moi regime was detained without trial.  Additionally, there was a crackdown on universities, some 80-university students were arrested, and some detained. The coup attempt is a turning point because it gave president Moi an excuse for the tight hold on security and limiting of freedoms that followed. Moi banned trade and professional unions and suppressed strikes and protests by doctors, bank employees, industrial workers, and students

1983- General Elections
Still in reaction to the coup and the air of suspicion in the aftermath, Moi called for early elections on September 16, 1983 (Munene, 2001). Kenya being a de-jure one party state meant that anybody contesting in the election had to be a KANU loyalist. Contestants had to seek clearance from KANU headquarters. Individuals had to pay a nomination fee of 1000 and submit to the president a complete pledge of loyalty. In this election Odinga allies were denied clearance save for Ochieng Oneko and Luke Obok. The 1983 elections were characterized by apathy with only 48% of eligible voters turning out to vote (Munene, 2001).
The fall of Njonjo in the run up to the 1983 elections had created fears in central province that Moi was systematically neutralizing all the powerful Kikuyu politicians. Therefore, there were fears that Kibaki would be next on line after he had been moved from the prestigious finance ministry. To appease the kikuyu, Moi appointed Kibaki Vice President after the elections .Moi reshuffled cabinet in June 1983 and later in July; the 10 men found guilty of leading the coup d’├ętat were executed.

1984 – Wajir Massacre

1985 – Ban on Media Broadcast of KANU events
In 1985 Hilary Ng’weno editor of Weekly Review forced to apologize for covering national events for having reported KANU events that had turned acrimonious.

1985- The Ouster of Njonjo
 Since the death of Kenyatta, Njonjo had been a key ally of President Moi. However, conspiracy had it that he hoped to dislodge Moi and become president. Politicians such as Chotara and Kubai, and Elijah Mwangale worked on such a conspiracy to get Njonjo dismissed

1983- 1986-  Mwakenya Movement
The actions of security and state house machinery engulfed Kenya in a cloud of fear. Consequently, critics of the government had to operate in a covert manner or under cover. There emerged a secret movement called MWAKENYA. The Movement was publishing articles and pamphlets analyzing and criticizing the government. The crackdowns on Universities led to underground efforts to expose the ills of the regime. To be found with any publication that was considered as opposing government establishment was a seditious felony. A case in hand is a lady who was jailed simply for having been found with a document that related the happenings during the 1982 coup[5]

 The crackdown targeted university lecturers, journalists and publishers. In 1986, there was an arrest of hundreds of journalists, teachers, students and civil servants. Few arrests were made public, following a ban in July that year on reporting by Kenyan journalists of all arrests and trials carried out on political grounds. None of those arrested and subsequently charged was allowed access to legal counsel. Among the journalists arrested was Wahome Mutahi with his brother Njuguna Mutahi. They were detained in Nyayo House torture chambers charged with sedition and alleged association with Mwakenya movement and later transferred to Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.

1986- KANU Disciplinary Committee created[6]
The disciplinary committee formed by president Moi on 17th December 1986 was a very powerful entity that ensured minimal defiance within the ruling party. The committee struck dread into the hearts of many, ruins careers, build others and even ignore the protection accorded to MPs by the Constitution. So powerful was it that in just one-and-a-half years, Moi thought it was trying to usurp his powers.

1986- Constitutional Amendment Bill of 1986
This bill eliminated provisions for security of tenure of attorney general, controller, and auditor general. Consequently, such officers worked at the behest of president Moi and KANU henchmen and women.

1987- Gitobu Imanyara launched the Nairobi Law Monthly
The Nairobi Monthly among other publications became a tool that activists used to criticize Moi. Nairobi Law Monthly was a vehicle through which            lawyers could exchange ideas and communicate with the outside world. The law society of Kenya was powerful and looked at suspiciously by Moi government

1987- Enactment of the Sectional Properties Act, Cap 286 of Laws of Kenya
Its main provisions were to facilitate registration of the sectional plan under the Registered Land Act Cap 300 of Laws of Kenya, make Sectional Plans a requirement to support titles to parts of buildings and to be the substantive law governing the rights of proprietors having interests in or rights over sectional properties.

1987- Opposition to Mulolongo Voting System
In 1987, Mulolongo system was proposed to replace secret ballot in the 1988 elections. NCCK and LSK led opposition against the Queuing system. The Mulolongo system ensured candidates preferred by the party and branch chairpersons sailed through in elections. Due to Mulolongo, the 1988 General elections was a farce because the Executive determined who won in the elections (Nyong’o, 1993:32). The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and The Law Society of Kenya protest queuing system of elections (mulolongo)

1987-          Vice president Josephat Karanja expelled from KANU.
Internal fighting within KANU led to explusiion of Josephat Karanja. He was accused of behaving like an acting President; President Moi let it be known that he was Head of State even when in the air. Others expelled included lawyer Kimani wa Nyoike and two members of Parliament, Kenneth Matiba and Charles             Rubia, who were both later detained.

1988- Reverend Timothy Njoya
Dr. Timothy Njoya is an outspoken critic of the Kenyan government on issues of corruption, injustice and democratization[7]. He has also played an instrumental role in the formation of an opposition party in the country He has served in different parishes including Chuka, Tumutumu, Mathari, St. Andrews, Dagoretti, and currently at Kinoo PCEA parish. Njoya started to publicly protest the Kenyan government's autocracy and injustice when he was serving at St. Andrews, next to Nairobi University. He attacked the single party state and advocated multipartism in his sermons, strongly defending the freedom of expression and association granted in the constitution.

He was arrested on several occasions. Government officials told him to "leave politics to politicians" and politicians condemned his views whenever possible, making him more popular with the masses. The fact that the press popularized Njoya's ideas was a constant source of trouble for him
. For instance, he was arrested briefly in 1988 for a sermon      that proposed the holding of a large kamukunji, or council, with amnesty for the   country's dissidents, to give all a chance to talk.

1988- Constitutional amendment removes security of tenure of judges
As Makau Mutua[8] explains the judiciary is supposed to be the guarantor of any legal system. The Kenyan legal system is composed of the judiciary, law enforcement agencies, the Office of the Attorney General, and the private bar organized under the auspices of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK). The passage of the detention law in 1966 started a broad but steady attack on the rule of law and integrity of the judiciary and the legal system. In 1988, President Moi prevailed over the rubber stamp Parliament to pass a constitutional amendment with far-reaching implications for judicial independence and respect for human rights in Kenya. In a stunning act of docility, the KANU Parliament removed the security of tenure for judges. It also extended from twenty-four hours to fourteen days the period during which suspects in capital cases could be held without charge

1988- Licensing of lawyers reviewed and an attack on LSK
Still in 1988, the procedure of acquiring a practicing license for lawyers was changed to allow government more control over licensing of lawyers. Through LSK lawyers had become very vocal and were using the courts to fight injustices by the Moi regime

1988- Raila Odinga Detained again
In September of 1988, Seven months after being released from a six year prison term, Raila Odinga, the leader of the unpublicized Kenya Revolutionary Movement (KRM), is again detained


1989 – Bishop Gitari attacked in church[9]
He was one of the Gikuyu voices of reason who sided with poor youth against the well-oiled   Gikuyu religious leaders who supported Gema. The legacy he left will be remembered for ages especially his fight for the return of multi party democracy  end to corruption  and other  social ills that plagued Kenya. The third Arch Bishop of the Anglican Church Dr David Mukuba Gitari used his pulpit to lead his flock as well as the political class

The 1990s

1989 -1990- Clamor for multiparty democracy
Former detainees and KANU rejects or rebels engaged the government in a sustained effort for the repeal of section 2A of the constitution. This processes involved the efforts of Martin Shikuku, Kimani wa Nyoike, and Masinde Muliro, Rubia and Matiba were the central figures in the main, elite-directed opposition to the Moi government among others.

This period was also characterized by sustained efforts to clampdown on dissidents. Trials and imprisonments of alleged dissidents continued. Those associated with the clandestine opposition movement Mwakenya, and two other unpublicized groups, the KRM and the Kenya Patriotic Front (KPF) were among those targeted. Equally, Moi banned newspapers and magazines including Beyond, Financial Review, Development Agenda, and the Daily Nation. Some of those detained without trial in 1990 were Charles Rubia and Kenneth Matiba despite Moi releasing political prisoners in June 1989.

1990s-          Economic Woes; Goldenberg scandal
The Goldenberg scandal was a political scandal where the Kenyan government was found to have subsidized exports of gold far beyond standard arrangements during the 1990s, by paying the company Goldenberg International 35% more (in Ksh.) than their foreign currency earnings. Although it notionally appears that the scheme was intended to earn hard currency for the country, it is estimated to have cost Kenya the equivalent of more than 10% of the country's annual Gross Domestic Product, and it is possible that no or minimal amounts of gold were actually exported. The scandal appears to have involved political corruption at the highest levels of the government of Daniel Moi. Officials in the former government of Mwai Kibaki have also been implicated; Moi himself however is not featuring anywhere.


1990- The Land Disputes Tribunal Act (No. 18)
This Act provided land disputes resolution mechanism. It empowered various entities and limited their powers on resolving disputes. It amended the Registered Land Act, 1963 and was later repealed by the Environment and Land Court Act, 2011 and the Land Registration Act, 2012

1990 - Death of Dr. Robert Ouko
On 13 February 1990, Robert Ouko, a former foreign minister who had criticized the Moi regime was found dead. The death sparked widespread anti-government protests by students claiming that the government is covering up the circumstances of his death. The government bans demonstrations. The Death of Ouko led to protests across the country. Ouko’s death as well as death of Eldoret Bishop Alexander Muge, then an outspoken critic of President Moi, and the continued ruthless suppression of political dissent are some of the factors happenings that heightened defiance. The deaths and arrest of senior political activists led to demonstrations and key among them was the saba saba riots.

1990- Kamukunji Rally: Saba Saba Day riots (July)[10]
On 4 July, former Cabinet ministers Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia, and then political activist Raila Odinga, were arrested and detained on July 4 of that year for demanding the re-introduction of multi-party democracy[11].  At that time, the repression by President Daniel arap Moi’s regime was at its peak. The Cold War had collapsed and many Africa strongmen, including Moi, found themselves under pressure from donors and development partners in the West, as well as from homegrown movements, to allow multi-party democracy.

The arrest of Rubia, Matiba, and Raila were to pre-empt a rally that had been planned by opposition leaders at the Kamkunji grounds in Nairobi on July 7[12]. The rally had been baptized Saba Saba. The group was led by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Masinde Muliro, Timothy Njoya, James Orengo, Paul Muite, Gitobu Imanyara, and Martin Shikuku, among others, to press for greater democratic space and a stop to human rights abuses ( Murungi, 2000).

Despite the ban by the government, thousands of Kenyans marched in defiance of a previously unchallengeable regime to make their way to Nairobi’s Kamukunji grounds to press the case for democracy. The name Saba Saba (Seven Seven) was borrowed from Tanzania, where it marked the date the defunct liberation party, Tanganyika African National Union (Tanu), was formed. That was on July 7, 1954.  In Kenya, Saba Saba was used as the beginning of open defiance against the Moi government to give room to democratic reforms. The government ruthlessly crushed the demonstrations.

The Kamukunji rally was a turning point in agitation for greater democratic space. It involved defying orders of police and carrying out a banned rally. Former detainees and KANU rejects or rebels engaged the government in a sustained effort for the repeal of section 2A of the constitution. This processes involved the efforts of Martin Shikuku, Kimani wa Nyoike, and Masinde Muliro, Rubia and Matiba were the central figures in the main, elite-directed opposition to the Moi government among others[13].

This period was also characterized by sustained efforts to clampdown on dissidents. Trials and imprisonments of alleged dissidents continued. Those associated with the clandestine opposition movement Mwakenya, and two other unpublicized groups, the KRM and the Kenya Patriotic Front (KPF) were among those targeted. Equally, Moi banned newspapers and magazines including Beyond, Financial Review, Development Agenda, and the Daily Nation (Murungi, 2000). Some of those detained without trial in 1990 were Charles Rubia and Kenneth Matiba despite Moi releasing political prisoners in June 1989.

1990- Arrest and Trial of The Anyona Four
Four days after the Saba Saba Rally, Prof Ngotho, George Anyona, Prof Edward Oyugi, and Njeru Kathangu, were arrested at Mitugi Bar in Dagoretti as they had a drink. They were later jailed for seven years each amid a local and international outcry. The so-called “Anyona Four” provided one of the most sensational political trials in Kenya in the early 1990s[14].

1990- Bishop Henry Okullu[15]
Bishop Henry Okullu was an Anglican bishop with plenty of fire in his belly, and not even threats from the State would reduce him to silence (Okullu, 1997). The late Bishop John Henry Okullu of the Anglican Church is remembered as a fierce critic of the government in the 1990s. Unwavering, he issued sermons agitating for human rights, justice and multi-party system of government. His sermons offered the first unequivocal endorsement of a multi-party system in Kenya by a religious leader[16]

1991- Donor Pressure
The deaths and arrests in 1990 and resultant demonstrations, which prompted further suppression by the regime led to international community being concerned. In November 1991, donors' had a meeting in Paris  and suspended most government-to-government economic assistance, pending improved respect for civil liberties and a clear reduction in levels of corruption; the International Monetary Fund followed suit and stopped giving Kenya  loans in December 1991

1991- NGO Coordination Act
The government had endeavored since 1969 to enable but control civil society organizations and workers unions; for instance maendeleo ya wanawake and central organization for trade unions. The end of the cold war and America’s focus on democratization led to international funding being available for local civic organizations. In 1991 through the NGO Co-ordination Act, the Government sought to reduce and regulate the number and activities of NGOs. However, this has not reduced the efficacy of new NGOs organize and get mass appeal.

1991- Repeal of Section 2A
On December 3, 1991, Moi announces that new political parties    will be allowed to register. In August 1991, the multi-party agitators formed a unified political grouping and called it Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (Ford). The six founder members and patrons were Martin Shikuku, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Ahmed Bahmariz, Philip Gachoka, George Nthenge, and Masinde Muliro. Supporters of democracy saw Ford as the outfit to remove Kanu from power and consign years of political dictatorship to the dustbin of history. It was not to be because of two factors. First, the Ford leaders were in a hurry to get power and forgot to initiate further constitutional and institutional reforms that could have allowed a level playing field. Secondly, internal squabbles brought about by personal and ethnic scramble for power.

The repeal of section 2A and resultant multi-party politics changed the political landscape. However, for survival the Kanu regime resorted to divide and rule politics along ethnic lines. In March of 1992, there were Reports of ethnic violence in the press. The Kalenjin Assistant Minister Kipkalia Kones declares Kericho District a KANU zone. President Moi visiting an area like Bungoma. The government accused the opposition parties of fueling the violence through Libyan-trained recruits and opposition leaders accuse the government of orchestrating ethnic violence in order to weaken moves towards multi-party politics.  President Moi then prohibited all political rallies, citing the threat of tribal violence

In the run up to and after the 1992 elections, violence erupted in various parts of the country. The violence in the Rift Valley continued unabated throughout 1993. The Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, and Nakuru Districts were the most affected. Fighting in the Burnt Forest area in Uasin Gishu pitted the Kalenjin against the Kikuyu community. At the coast, there were clashes in Likoni. All the violence was politically instigated but with land as the emotive issue

1991- Political Parties Allowed to Register
Moi arrests Nicholas Biwott, former minister of energy, on suspicion that Biwott had personally appropriated foreign aid and participated in the murder of Robert Ouko, the late minister for foreign affairs. On December 3, Moi announces that new political parties      will be allowed to register

1991- Formation of FORD
In August 1991, the multi-party agitators formed a unified political grouping and called it Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (Ford). The six founder members and patrons were Martin Shikuku, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Ahmed Bahmariz, Philip Gachoka, George Nthenge, and Masinde Muliro. Supporters of democracy saw Ford as the outfit to remove Kanu from power and consign years of political dictatorship to the dustbin of history. It was not to be because of two factors. First, the Ford leaders were in a hurry to get power and forgot to initiate further constitutional and institutional reforms that could have allowed a level playing field. Secondly, internal squabbles brought about by personal and ethnic scramble for power.

1991- Rebellion in Kanu
In late December, several cabinet ministers resign to protest the president's failure to call elections within KANU

1992- Majimboist Rhetoric and the 1St Election Related Violence
To challenge KANU, was portrayed by Moi and state machinery as a challenge to the Kalenjin and allied tribes (Barkan, 1993). Therefore, through ethnicisation of politics, Kanu perpetuated itself. Equally, the opposition in Kenyan politics has always mobilized on ethnic grounds. Never in Kenyan politics, has politics been purely issue based. In every election, there is ethnic arithmetic that is done by the leaders. This kind of scenario finds foundations in the pre-colonial set up, which was adopted and used by the colonialists.
Elite within KANU thrived on political favors and government contracts. Therefore growing rich in Kenya is not tied to innovation and entrepreneurship but rather to state connections and patronage (Barkan, 1993). Consequently, controlling state house is directly linked to elite prosperity chances as well as livelihood opportunities of people at the grassroots.
The 1992 and 1997 elections were marred by ethnic violence. The violence was believed to be state sponsored in a bid to discredit the multi-party system of government (Barkan, 1993). In 1997 when Moi won the election and Kibaki Moved to Court, the Kalenjin in the rift valley started mobilizing for retribution against the kikuyu (Daily Nation 23 January 1998). Kalenjin leaders interpreted the court case as an affront not just on MOI but also the Kalenjin Community. There were a series of attacks and revenge attacks as reported in the daily nation of 27 January 1998.
The problem in Kenyan politics has been the notion that political leaders represent the ethnic communities. This notion has its roots in the colonial period where ethnicity was the basis of engagement with citizens by the colonial administration. The colonialists profiled ethnic communities and supported traditional leaders or instituted chiefs who governed over an ethnic group. Initial anti-colonial administration associations were also ethnic based. The first political parties in Kenya were also ethnic based and only KANU and later NARC were parties that transcended ethnic divide. However, even in those outfits, ethnic arithmetic defined engagement among the leaders.
Political tribalism has existed in Kenya. However, the repeal of section 2A and resultant multi-party politics usher in a new era in Kenya characterized by ethnic militants (tribal resistance and violence) (Klopp, 2001). Immediately after the repeal of section, 2A there emerged in Kenya regional balkanization and ethnic resistance to influence by leaders from enemy ethnic groups. Initially, ethnicisation of politics was restricted to bargaining for space at the eating table by the leaders. However, in the 1990s, ethnic communities became the armies by which leaders could grab political power or defend themselves against attack. State organized violence defines the beginning of politics related ethnic violence in Kenya.
Nicholas Biwott is viewed by many as having been at the centre of state bankrolled ethnic violence in the rift valley. In the run up to actual violence, Kanu MPs and Ministers started drumming support for Majimboism as agitation for multi-party politics heightened. The majimboism rhetoric raised the question of indigenous communities vs. those that did not belong to given areas. This was a return to the pre-independence demand by KADU for a federal system of government. The pre-independence jostling for Majimboism was driven by fear of Kikuyu domination in the independence government (Atieno-Odhiambo 2000: 24). Thus, Moi and his cronies re-ignited the Majimbo rhetoric to create the sentiment that minority groups in Kenya needed protection and left to multi-party politics, they would easily be dominated. This evoked the desire for freedom from domination by other ethnic groups. Other ethnic groups were now looked at, especially in the Rift Valley, as the enemy keen on exploiting what is not originally since they were not indigenous members.
The Weekly Review 23 of August 1991 captures the dominant arguments for and against Majimbo then. While Kanu lieutenants were propagating the Majimbo gospel, FORD was against the Majimboist rhetoric because it eroded national unity. The Majimboist rhetoric effectively aroused the notion of marginalization and historical injustices. Many in the rift valley believed the Kenyatta government had been unfair in the way it tackled the land question. Areas like the coast, North Eastern Kenya and even Pockets of western easily bought into the marginalization rhetoric. It is in the 1990s that majimboist sentiments led to emergence of KAMATUSA (Kalenjin, Maasai, Turkana and Samburu) as the original and bonafide owners of the rift valley.
In the pre-independence discussion of Majimbo, there were desires of self-governance and freedom from domination by other ethnicities. However, the new wave of majimboist rhetoric was driven by marginalization and historical injustice notions that evoked bitter feelings and desire for justice among communities. There was a general feeling that the Kenyatta regime had favored the Kikuyu in buying land from the white settlers. Additionally, there was a feeling that a community like the Kalenjin had benefited and was thus being protected by Moi. Removing Moi posed a danger of the community being targeted and being marginalized. On the other hand, other communities felt it is Kikuyu and Kalenjin that had benefited under successive KANU regimes. Therefore, the only way of safeguarding interests was ethnic unity and electing a government that had community interests catered for through representation.
Generally, the Kalenjin felt the Kikuyu had invaded their lands. They lived all over the country and ran business without qualms. On the other hand, there was a perception that the Kikuyu were selfish and did not welcome members of other tribes. It was rumored that the Kikuyu did not allow people from other communities to do business or to settle in central province. They would either not buy or simple murder the intruder. While the Kalenjin and other communities felt they had been invaded, the Kikuyu intellectuals ran a liberalist propaganda that emphasized the right of every citizen to live, work and settle anywhere in the country.
By rekindling the Majimboism debate, ethnic arithmetic was no longer just a matter of political mobilization among the elites but a matter of justice as members of given communities felt having been exploited and dominated by members of some other communities. In the rift valley, Mps openly advised their people to take arms and defend their rights. The weekly review of 27 September 1991 quotes then Kapktet MP encouraging his audience to take up arms and protecting what is rightfully theirs. Imanyara and Maina (1991:20) quote Biwott extolling the courage of Kalenjins arguing that they were warriors who would not be taken out of power without a fight.
 In March of 1992, there were Reports of ethnic violence in the press. The Kalenjin Assistant Minister Kipkalia Kones declares Kericho District a KANU zone and states that the Kalenjin youth in the area have declared war on the Luo community in retaliation for several Kalenjins killed in earlier violence. The government accused the opposition parties of fueling the violence through Libyan-trained recruits and opposition leaders accuse the government of orchestrating ethnic violence in order to weaken moves towards multipartyism.  President Moi then prohibited all political rallies, citing the threat of tribal violence

In the run up to and after the 1992 elections, violence erupted in various parts of the country. The violence in the Rift Valley continued unabated throughout 1993. The Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, and Nakuru Districts were the most affected. Fighting in the Burnt Forest area in Uasin Gishu pitted the Kalenjin against the Kikuyu community. At the coast, there were clashes in Likoni. All the violence was politically instigated but with land as the emotive issue

1993-1997 – Opposition Politics and CSOs
About 40 local and international NGOs based in Kenya were engaged in political activism. Some were concerned with violence while others focused on human rights abuses by the government. The civil society worked closely with opposition politicians in checking the excesses of the Moi regime.  Individuals and religious bodies' representatives met to discuss the situation of peace in Kenya. The meeting was an outgrowth of Peace Net, founded in September 1993 as the Ethnic Clashes Network, as a response to ethnic violence. The leaders express their fear of renewed clashes, concern over the culture of violence taking over the country, and the need for “concerted effort to restore peace and stability to Kenya.”[17] They warn that the “level of violence-political and otherwise-appears to escalate as we approach the 1997 election year

1994- Maathai vs. City Council of Nairobi
In 1994 there was a landmark ruling in the case of  Maathai vs. City Council Of Nairobi; HCCC No.72 of 1994, when the Registration of Titles Act Cap 281 of Laws of Kenya  was applied and an indefeasible title was not subject to be challenged. The piece of land could not be sold to an individual.

1996- The Physical Planning Act; Cap 86 of Laws of Kenya
The act  was enacted to consolidate earlier laws, which dealt with physical development in urban and rural areas. The Act repealed the Town Planning Act; Cap 134 of Laws of Kenya and the Land Planning Act, 1970. The other legislation that came into existence was the Land Lord and Tenant Act, 1996 (Shops, Hotels and Catering Establishments; Cap 301 of Laws of Kenya which governed the relationship between the land lord and tenant, the various types of tenancies and the legal avenues to resolve disputes. This Act has not been repealed and is still in operation to date.


1997 Election related Clashes
Despite the work of NGO or civil society organizations, the culture of violence had been entrenched and widespread clashes were witnessed before and after the 1997 elections. Due to ethnic mobilization, politicians pitted one ethnic group against others. Ethnic violence in 1992 and 1997 and later 2007 took the form of ethnic cleansing or purifications (Klopp, 2001). For the first time, in the run up to 1992 elections, people see their neighbors from other tribes as strangers, invaders and intruders. All problems faced at the individuals and community level are subsumed into an ethnic problem. The idea is that, to triumph over given tribes and driving them as far away as possible is the sure way of solving socio-economic problem. Politicians to rally people and reduce competition propagated these sentiments. Nationally, it was an attempt by KANU to ensure politicians from especially the kikuyu community are mistrusted. In 1992, the main challenger to Moi was Kenneth Matiba a kikuyu. In 1997, the main challenger was Kibaki thus fueling animosity between Kalenjin and Kikuyu.
Akiwumi Commission of Ethnic Clashes and the Human Rights Watch Report of 1993 demonstrated abundantly that violence in the county was state sponsored. The Majimboist sentiment led to ethnic purification in Nyanza, western, Rift Valley and at the coast with the Likoni area being hard hit by violence as well as Mt. Elgon, Burnt forest areas and Molo. Ethnic balkanization began with KANU but was easily adopted by all politicians in the country (Klopp, 2002). There were areas that were declared KANU zones and an opposition leader going there would be met with violence. Equally, opposition leaders also arranged violence to deter other candidates from campaigning in their area. To date, each political leader has an ethnic constituency and even the president cannot just walk into any area and address a rally. In the recent past, President Uhuru had to cancel a trip to Ukambani (Kitui) because the local leaders had not been consulted.
1997 – Kirwa Incident
On 9th April 1997 - KANU parliamentarian Kipruto arap Kirwa, who had launched a verbal attack against President Moi two weeks earlier,  disappeared fueling suspicions that he has been arrested for his outspokenness. Dissatisfaction with Moi within the Kalenjin community was most evident among the Nandi, the sub-group to which Kirwa belongs and among other members of the KANU alliance

1999- The Njonjo Land Commission
The main aim of the commission was to come up with principles of a National Land Policy. The Commission was under Charles Njonjo and was supposed to establish the position of the constitution on land and make proposals of how to entrench land law in the legal system.

2001- KPC Ngong Forest Land Scandal (DN Wednesday, 20th October, 2010)
The KPC Scandal was a scandal that resulted in the suspension in October 2012 of Kenyan Government Minister William Ruto who was charged in court as a result. Mr Ruto and four other persons faced fraud charges over the alleged sale of a piece of land in Ngong forest to Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) for Shs.272 million. The minister allegedly received Sh96 million at various intervals during the alleged transaction.

In the case, Mr. Ruto and Berke Commercial Agencies, a company associated with him, Mr Joshua Kulei, a former aide of retired president Daniel Moi, Mr Sammy Mwaita (the Member of Parliament for Baringo Central Constituency) and two other firms were sued for allegedly obtaining money from KPC between 6 August and 6 September 2001. In April 2011, Mr. Ruto was acquitted of the Sh43 million land fraud charges for lack of evidence after the prosecution failed to produce in court the then Finance Manager Hellen Njue to give her evidence on how she paid out the money. His co-accused, Mr Joshua Kulei and Mr Sammy Mwaita, were also set free.


[1] Students expelled or detained were detailed by Shaila Wambui in a Daily Nation article on November 28, 1992
[2] An article in Kenya Times, by Etende Embeywa, November 27 1992 offers insight into political activism by university dons between 1960s and 1990s. While Etende was pro government apologists another article by Odegi-Awuondo, in a Daily Nation article on November 24, 1992 was pro the radical scholars
[3] More is narrated by Wamwere (2000) in his autobiography
[4] Quoted by Ogot 1995
[5] http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000091109/mwakenya-movement-and-dark-days-of-single-party-rule
[6] http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000093759/powerful-disciplinary-committee-that-terrorised-leaders
[7] http://www.dacb.org/stories/kenya/njoya_timothy.html
[8] http://www.iupui.edu/~anthkb/a104/kenya/justice%20under%20siege.htm
[9] http://ntv.nation.co.ke/news2/topheadlines/remembering-a-hero-bishop-gitari-supported-enactment-of-the-constitution/
[10] http://www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/DN2/Kenya-Multiparty-politics/-/957860/2020838/-/wjuspcz/-/index.html
[11] Idem
[12] Idem
[13] Idem
[14] http://www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/DN2/Kenya-Multiparty-politics/-/957860/2020838/-/wjuspcz/-/index.html
[15] http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/kenyaat50/article/2000104598/bishop-okullu-a-man-of-god-with-a-heart-for-justice
[16] Idem
[17] Klopp, 2002

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I Met a Thief