THE CENTRAL AND NYANZA WARS PART II

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I have been following closely the changing political atmosphere of our country since before the elections to now that the President – Elect is about to be sworn in. I must say that there are different reactions across the board and some have expressed either their displeasure or triumph in different ways – especially after the petition in court. It is even more apparent to me now, more than ever that we really need to go back to history to understand all that is going on now, which I have taken the time to do and present it to you.

I suggest that you take the time to buy and watch the documentary by Hillary Ngweno – “The Making of a Nation” which is where I am getting most of my facts from.

Read part one of this article to get the flow on the link provided below… https://jonathansiaga.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/the-central-and-nyanza-wars-part-i/

The time now is 1968 and the Gatundu group was trying to ensure that Mboya doesn’t ever become president through some parliamentary fluke and they were leaving no stones unturned to cut him down to size in his strong areas. In January 1968, they managed to whisk away the Nairobi KANU branch from Mboya men. Branch elections saw Charles Rubia defeat Munyuwa Waiyaki for the chairmanship of the branch committee. The rest of the seats of the branch executive were taken by the KANU A men. For the first time, Mboya had been defeated in a major political battle.

Next, KANU A went for the Mombasa party branch where Mboya’s ally and branch chairman – Ronald Ngala was in a bitter feud with Msanifu Kombo. In the branch elections held in March 1968, the Gatundu group supported Kombo in his takeover bid and when he eventually won, Ngala resigned from the KANU National Executive Committee. Mboya had thus lost control over the two biggest KANU branches – Nairobi and Mombasa. His political forces were in disarray but his problems were not quite over.

In May 1967, Kenyatta had released from detention Denis Akumu and Omollo Rading, two of the trade unionist who had been detained in 1966. For Kenyatta and his inner circle, the time was now ripe to hit Mboya where it hurt him the most – in his hold on the Trade Union Movement. They had tried it before and failed. This time Akumu would make sure that they did not fail for Akumu had a lot of clout with in the trade union movement.

He had headed the Kenya African Workers Union KAWU and before detention, he was Clement Lubembe’s number two man, a Mboya ally in the Central Organization for Trade Unions COTU. Njonjo and Mungai worked hard to help set up a coalition of trade unionist which came to be known as the Kenya Group. They lobbied for Akumu’s men against Lubembe’s or Mboya’s men in the elections that were held in 1969 to choose all officers in COTU. Akumu’s men swept the slate thus dealing Mboya his final blow in politics. Mboya had lost the major KANU branches – Nairobi and Mombasa. Elsewhere in the party he had only the job of Secretary General and he had now lost his hold on the Trade Union Movement. It appeared that there was nothing else left for him to lose.

Bad as they were  Mboya’s political troubles did not worry him as much as what he now perceived as a threat to his very life. On the morning of July 5th 1969, Mboya arrived at Nairobi’s Embakassi Airport from Addis Ababa, where he had been attending a meeting of the Economic Commission for Africa. He was accompanied by his Permanent Secretary Phillip Ndegwa and his brother Alphonse Okuku Ondiege. He had dropped them off at his office, and then before 1 P.M he went to Chhanis Pharmacy on Government road – today known as Moi Avenue, to buy some lotion for dry skin. After chatting with Mrs. Chhani for a while, Mboya stepped out of the shop. In a few seconds, two shots rung out and Mboya slumped over.

Despite efforts at mouth to mouth resuscitation by Dr. Mohamed Rufidth Chodri who came to the shop within a few minutes of the shooting, Mboya was dead on arrival at the Nairobi Hospital. Within hours, there were riots and demonstrations in Nairobi and in towns and villages in Nyanza.

From the very beginning, Luos had assumed that the Kikuyus had killed Mboya. The experience at the KPU had given most Luo the feeling that the Kikuyu were out to deny them any position of political leadership. They had pushed Odinga out of KANU and hobbled the party he had set up. Now they had killed Mboya and Luo suspicions appeared to be confirmed when on July 10th – five days after the murder, a young Kikuyu Named Nahashon Isaac Njenga Njoroge was arrested and charged with the murder. Kenyatta declared one week of national mourning.

The time used for mourning was also the time the Luos used to express their communal anger at Mboya’s murder. On Monday 7th when Vice president Moi came to pay his last respects, his car was stoned and he was forced to turn back. On Tuesday 8th at a requiem mass presided by Arch Bishop John McCarthy at Holy Cathedral, police were powerless to control a huge crowd of angry Luos who pelted Kenyatta’s car with stones, sticks and shoes.

The cortege left Nairobi at 4 AM on Wednesday the 9th. Some 500 cars joined the procession. There was another mass at Homa Bay Cathedral before crossing over by ferry to Rusinga Island, where he would be buried  on Friday 11th. There were many leaders at Mboya’s Funeral from Western Kenya, there were Mboya’s close associates – Samuel Ayodo, Odero Joey and Clement Lubembe. There were also former political foes like Masinde Muliro, Achieng’ Oneko and Oginga Odinga. Few came from elsewhere.

On September 10th Nahashon Njenga was found guilty and sentenced to death. His appeal against the sentence and verdict was rejected by the East African Court of Appeal, and on November 8th it was reported that he was hanged in secret at Kamiti Maximum Prison. Mboyas murder had shaken Kenyan politics as nothing has ever done before since independence.  

The entire Luo community now closed ranks around Odinga, taking on a markedly anti –kikuyu stance in all their uttering (does this sound familiar in social media today?) Other non – kikuyu Kenyans were taken aback. Doubts especially in the Coast Province and to a lesser extent in the Western Province, begun to emerge about the kind of leadership that Kenyatta was practicing. Those doubts turned to worries after reports started circulating that the Kikuyu community had taken widespread oathing primarily aimed at ensuring the unity of the tribe in the face of growing opposition to Kenyatta’s rule, particularly from the Luo.

There was enormous pressure with in central province to close ranks around Kenyatta just like the Luo had done around Odinga. By August that year, the pressure was so great that Bildad Kagia, Vice president of the K.P.U and almost the entire Central membership of the party were forced to rejoin KANU. The situation called for some action on the part of Kenyatta because the rift between the Kikuyus and the Luos was beginning to affect even the workings of his Government. 

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