Today we are marking the 30th Saba Saba Anniversary. It is important to give a historical and contextual analysis of Saba Saba so that we can deduce lessons and prepare for the future.
- After Independence Jomo Kenyatta initiated amendments of the Constitution to consolidate his presidential powers.
- When Kenyatta fell out with Jaramogi, the latter formed Kenya Peoples Union ( KPU). Jomo Kenyatta used the security agencies and the KANU party organs and functionaries to frustrate and intimidate the opposition. He also used the state law office, then headed by Charles Njonjo to place legal barriers to any attempt to form alternativ e political parties. Kenya became a defacto one party state.
- Concerned about the ageing and ailing condition of Jomo Kenyatta, the so called ” Kikuyu Mafia” launched a campaign to change the Constitution to bar the then Vice president from automatically ascending to the presidency. They were again frustrated and intimidated by Charles Njonjo and GG Kariuki. President Moi took over.
- President Moi dismantled the Kikuyu influence in the system. The Kikuyu and the Luo joined hands in opposing thd Moi regime. Some people reacted by forming underground movements, such as Mwakenya. The repression increased. The dreaded special branch carried out raids, arrested suspects and tortured them. Many were killed for their political opinion. Some were thrown from storied buildings, others were killed and their bodies dumped in rivers and forests.
- President Moi consolidated his power by amending the Constitution and making Kenya a one party state! On June 9th 1982, Charles Njonjo, the then Attorney General moved a motion to amend the Constitution, to make KANU, the only party. He claimed that he was just regularising the reality! He was supported by the the vice president Mwai Kibaki, who claimed that it is only mad people who would oppose such a ‘ good” move! These are the same people who had cleared the way for Moi to ascend to the presidency easily. Now they were again helping him to consolidate his power by limiting political freedom! The KANU party became ” baba na mama’ and Moi became ” No. 1″ in every sphere! The people were forced to buy KANU membership cards. I remember that people were forced to buy badges with a portrait of Moi and pin them on their coat lapels! One had to be cleared to vie for a political post. Many leaders were denied party certificates to vie for political seats. The KANU youth wingers behaved like vigilantes and even controlled traffic!.The leaders used the KANU and the Provincial Administration to enrich themselves. They grabbed Government and forest lands. Today the richest Kenyans acquired their wealth in the 1980’s. Ironically they or their children are the leaders dictating the politics today!
Many politicians who had contrary political opinion were either cowed or forced to go underground or exile. The few who remained such as George Anyone were arrested and detained!
The universities became bastions of opposition. The universities academics such as Dr. Mukaru Ng’ang’a, Dr Willy Mutunga, Prof. Katama Mkangi, Prof Okong’o Oyugi, Prof Ngotho wa Kariuki, Prof Maina wa Kinyatti among others were arrested jailed and detained!
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The lawyers who were jailed or detained include: James Orengo, Dr. Gibson Kamau Kuria, Dr. John Khaminwa, Gitobu Imanyara Japhet Shamalla among others. Other lawyers who got harassed or exiled include: Paul Muite and Kiraitu Murungi among others.
- The people got tired of the monolithic KANU and lack of political freedom. They started agitating for reintroduction of multipartism and expansion of the democratic space. The religious sector also joined and called for an end to the repression and single partyism! The notable religious leaders who voiced their views are: Bishops Ndingi Mwana’a Nzeki, Cardinal Maurice Otunga, Henry Okullu, Gitari, Alexander Kispang Muge and the priests such as Fr. Ndikaru wa Teresiah, Fr. Dominic Wamugunda and Rev Timothy Murere Njoya among others.
The emerging civil society led by the likes of Prof. Mutua Makau, Dr Willy Mutunga, Maina Kiai, Irungu Houghton, Nancy Baraza, Martha Koome, Martha Karua, Njoki Ndung’u, Ida Odinga among others also added their voice!
The lawyers led by Law Soceity of Kenya and International Commission of Jurists also made a good contributions.
The Government set up a committee led by the then Vice president George Saitoti to gather views from people and make recommendations. Despite the overwhelming peoples support for reintroduction of multipartism, the committee said that the people were ” happy with single partyism and KANU”!
- Key leaders disagreed with the Saitoti committee and launched a campaign to lobby for the reintroduction of multipartism. They included: Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Martin Shikuku, Masinde Muliro, George Nthenge, Peter Gachoka, Ahmed Bamahriz. They were joined by those who defected from KANU such as Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia.
The then Young Turks who supported the lobbying included: Raila Odinga, Paul Muite, Prof Peter Anyang Ny’ong’o, Dr.Mukhisa Kituyi, Kiraitu Murungi, Dr Kamau Kuria, Gitobu Imanyara, Israel Agina, Prof Ouma Muga, James Orengo, Otieno Mac’Onyango, GBM Kariuki among others.
They formed a party ” Forum for the Restoration of Democracy” – FORD. The Government reacted by arresting Raila Odinga, Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia and detaining them!. The leaders had proposed to hold a meeting on 7th July 1990 in defiance of the state directive at the historic Kamukunji grounds. Despite the detention of their leaders the people defied the Government and held a meeting at Kamukunji. The riots broke out and spread to the slums and suburbs of Nairobi. Many people were killed. Others were arrested and jailed.
- President Moi gave in to pressure and at a KANU meeting at Kasarani ordered for the amendment of s 2 A, to reintroduce multipartism!
That is how multipartism was reintroduced. Many people were killed, detained, jailed, exiled and injured. Many lost their properties and income.
It is also important to note the key role played by Raila Odinga in the second liberation.
Ruto was in KANU and was a member of YK’ 1992.which participated in the repression and other economic crimes. All along he has never been on the side of the Oppressed! He opposed the Constitution 2010. I can read through the tangatanga deciet when they pretend to be ” pro-poor’ when all along they were the agents of oppression. I get surprised and disappointed when some of our naive youth fail to see that they are being hoodwinked! He is still opposing the unity drive and peace building proposed by the President.