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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dark secrets of the presidency Part 4

Moi's fears
Sometimes a writer starts off intending to write some brief piece but then it suddenly takes on a life of its’ own and writes itself into a lengthy prose, almost a book sometimes. This is exactly what has happened with my weekend special this weekend.

For that reason I will continue with part 5, 6, 7 and 8 next weekend.

For now let me wind up this weekend’s excitement with this last piece for this particular weekend.

That first cabinet meeting after Kenyatta’s death which was held on August 22nd 1978 was a very fascinating affair to say the least. During Kenyatta’s presidency the entire cabinet would usually assemble and wait for the president to arrive for the meeting. Conversation around the table would usually be in Kikuyu during this wait. This forced Moi who was Nilote to learn the Bantu tongue of the Kikuyus. Many times the cabinet would wait in vain for Kenyatta only to be told that he was not coming usually due to health reasons.

On this day of August 22nd 1978 all the cabinet members were there and this time they were waiting for somebody who had been one of them only the day before and somebody whom they had always derided. Moi did not keep the cabinet waiting and came in shortly after they were all there, accompanied by AG Charles Njonjo. All eyes were on him as he sat at the head of the table where Kenyatta used to sit. Moi’s eyes were red and he looked like he had been crying. For a brief moment members of the presidential press unit were allowed inside to take photographs which they did and left.

Moi had a difficult task ahead of him. Njonjo made it easy by making it almost unnecessary for him to speak although he was chairing that historic cabinet meeting. The main agenda for the day were the arrangements of the state funeral for Kenyatta the following weekend. Still Moi felt overwhelmed by the challenges ahead of him. The current constitution says that in the event of the death of the president, the vice president will take over for a period of 3 months pending elections for a new president. Three months is a long time and Moi must have had his uncertainties over ever retaining the presidency. More so if you take into consideration the curious incident with Njonjo which I recounted in the last post.

Moi avoided eye contact with most of those seated in the cabinet room with him. Amongst them were people who had plotted his murder only a few hours earlier to ensure that he would never rise to the presidency.
Dr Njoroge Mungai known to his fellow Kiambu mafia members as "Mr Fix it."

The two men he must have feared most on that table were Dr. Njoroge Mungai and Mbiyu Koinange. Both were very powerful and influential members of the Kiambu Mafia. Both had no doubt thought about this day many times over the years but not in their wildest nightmares did they ever picture Daniel arap Moi seated at Kenyatta’s usual chair in the cabinet room. Moi’s fears were not unfounded. It is widfely believed that both men went behind Kenyatta’s back and ordered the hit on Tom Mboya in July 1969. It is said that Kenyatta was livid after he found out what they had done but there was obviously nothing he could do about it. The two individuals were said to be very ambitious and determined that the presidency would fall into their hands on Kenyatta’s death. At one point Njoroge Mungai is said to have bluntly asked Kenyatta to name him as his successor.

The foreign press was even speculating that the real “matata” (political chaos and violence) would start after the funeral and when the presidential elections were announced. It was expected that a member of the Kiambu mafia would stand for the presidency against Moi. Others remembered Jaramogi Oginga Odinga who was also known to be interested in the presidency. Indeed Odinga had turned up to view Kenyatta’s body at State house and with cameras from the local and international press rolling, he had proceeded to utter many words in Dholuo over the body while waving his fly whisk. Those who did not understand the language speculated that he was thanking the gods for the death of a man he had lifted to the presidency only to be dumbed later by the same ungrateful man. For these reasons there was a lot of tension in the country.
Mbiyu Koinange the powerful minister of State and most respected member of the Kiambu mafia.

Nobody would have guessed that at the end there would be no election because nobody opposed Moi and he was confirmed as the next president of Kenya. So where did all these pretenders to the throne disappear to?

It is not clear exactly what happened but an interesting meeting of the Kiambu mafia shortly after Kenyatta’s death, attended by Kamba politician Paul Ngei may give us a few pointers.

It is said that most members of the Kiambu mafia felt that Moi was not a threat and there was no hurry for them to make a move because he was simply “a passing cloud.” Paul Ngei strongly disagreed with them and told them that the presidency was a very powerful seat and if they allowed Moi to be president even for a couple of weeks, they would never be able to remove him. It is not clear what Ngei was suggesting that the Kiambu mafia do to remove Moi because whatever it was it would have been unconstitutional. Not that the Kiambu mafia were not known for ignoring the constitution in their quest for the presidency.

To the Kiambu mafia anybody else as interim president would have been a threat but surely not Moi of all people. The man who had succumbed to so much humiliation including a search of his very private parts by a mere assistant commissioner of police when he was VP. The guy did not even speak English too well and this is what had forced some members of the Kiambu mafia to take over proceedings from him during those foreign trips. They had been ashamed of Moi. The man did not even look intelligent at all and some felt that Kenya was being painted in a bad picture with such a man as Vice president and leader of the Kenyan delegation. (You have to understand that throughout his presidency Kenyatta never boarded an aircraft and so Moi had to represent him in all foreign trips where the president was required to attend. Those were a lot of trips even in those days.) In other words what Ngei was saying about Moi being a threat was laughable to most members of the Kiambu mafia and those who thought they knew Moi well.

When you take this information and consider it along the bitter power struggle that was going on amongst Kenyatta’s insiders it all points to the fact that this decision by the Kiambu mafia to take their time and accept Moi as the sole compromise candidate for interim president is what dealt a death blow to the ambitions of many for the presidency. The role of AG Charles Njonjo in helping the president to quickly settle down and consolidate his position is yet another major reason.

In the end Paul Ngei’s words were to prove to be very prophetic indeed.

In this context it is easy to understand why so many political analysts divide the Moi presidency very neatly into two. Just like his predecessor, Moi started with very high ideals and determined to make a difference. Admittedly Moi’s honeymoon lasted a lot longer than Kenyattas’. It lasted a whole 3 years as opposed to the few months Kenyatta had before he started having nightmares of him and his family being executed in some firing squad after a successful coup in Kenya. This nightmare took over and guided his every decision as president from that point onwards. Exactly the same thing happened to Moi only that in his case he faced a real coup.

To be continued next weekend.

Get a Free copy of almost the entire book Dark Secrets of the Kenyan Presidency

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


kumekucha said...

Ooops I forgot to thank all you wonderful people out there for making this most enjoyable weekend possible. I saw you in my stats and I saw your comments when I was a little late in posting. Thanx a million.

Now please allow me to start my digging for next weekend so that it will be as enjoyable if not more so.


Black Oak said...

Keep them coming, Chris. There are a valuable reminde to the intrigues of power, and the passion in the players of the game, that has shaped our unfortaunate history as a nation.

Anonymous said...


Is this a case of over shooting a wide receiver or a blown coverage?

Eagerly waiting for Parts 5, 6, 7, 8, etc

Anonymous said...

I fail to see the point of these articles other than to incite hatred against Kenyatta and his tribe. Why not do a similar expose on the Moi presidency?

Anonymous said...

Same, same.
But it may well be that there's nothing to write about other leaders in Kenya--just the kyuk ones.If that's the case, Chris cant do anything about it--its the sample he draws from that biased, not him!

Anonymous said...


kumekucha said...

Anon@11:44 Anon@12:21 and Anon@ 4:19,

I bet you that a quick look at ip addresses will reveal that you are exactly the same person trying to create the impression that what you are saying is popular opinion.

It also seems that you are just learning how to use a computer and the web is totally new to you. There is plenty of evidence to suggest this.

For those who can read English be informed that the title of this series is Dark secrets of the presidency and NOT Dark secrets of the Kikuyu presidency.

Also the weekend before this I did a series on the great Luo Kitendawili which also rubbed a few of my Luo brothers the wrong way. So your tribal accusations ring hollow for those who visit this site regularly who can read and understand English.

Lastly if your intention is to scare away readership then I suggest you try something else. My hit counter went crazy over the weekend and I can confidently say I can't remember the last weekend that traffic was that high on a weekend. My advice is that you study the web more closely to discover how to trip up sites you hate for your own reasons because what you are currently doing won't work.

I can tell you that it does not work on the web in the same way it works with the print media you are used to. Good luck to you.


Anonymous said...

Anon 11:44

Well you are the one seeing it that way , am almost sure or i am sure that he will expose Moi as he did with Kenyatta. Why is Moi called Nyayo? Maybe you should go and read some books and then come back on friday with a sober head.

Good Work Chris, Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Anyway Chris, Are you assuming that Kalonzo is in a similar situation as Moi was ?

Anonymous said...

Kalonzo is not a leader, he is not an alpha male, and he doesn't have a national appeal.

He was groomed to serve whoever is in power, and Moi prepared him very well for the role.

Kalonzo is more of a honeyguide, and Kenyans now know him for what he is, "a regional guide" but not "a national leader."

He is a parasitic politician and a certified predictor of miracles during general election?

Will he become a honeyguide 2012? Time will tell.

benson said...

Good work chris keep up.By the way do you get paid for this work or it is just being patriot and philothropist.

kumekucha said...

Hello Benson,

Ever since I launched this blog on a whim in May 2005 I have been struggling to keep it going on my own personal finances. I have also been looking for ways to generate revenue from it because my vision is for it to remain independent of any influence, political or otherwise.

I am grateful to a number of friends who have bailed me out during trying times.

The struggle continues.

Hope that answers your question.


Anonymous said...

come on Chris, it is only a blog! you're anyone, and I mean anyone, can have a blog, even a million blogs. it cost $0 to keep a blog running and therefore the friends who "bailed you out" should know that they were scammed. You also keep talking about people's IP addresses...this is the funniest! you have no way of knowing people's IP addresses, Chris...again, this is just a blog, you don't even have an independent domain. Granted your blog perhaps has a larger audience than most Kenyan blogs; but still, you are just a blog. It is like me telling people how much money I spend to keep my Facebook account running or how how I know the IP of anyone who comments on my photos.

Anonymous said...

Chris this is splendid work, please keep the verbal juice flowing.

Anonymous said...

@Kumekucha, I thought Anon@11:44 Anon@12:21 and Anon@ 4:19, being the same person or not, are entitled to their opinions.....And by the way, you do not need to be a know what an IP address is to see that these posts are more of what anon @1.44PM thought them to be than anything else. Quite informative though, thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:21am (i.e me) is different from 11:44pm and 4:19am. I dont know whether the other two are the same poster. So do take a 'quick' look at the IP addresses if needs be.

Thanks for explaining though, yet some of your language is downright unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. When chris writes about jaramongi, it shows he hates luos. When he writes about kenyatta, he is spreading hatred for the kikuyu.

Anonymous said...


As you continue digging for next weekend political blog-talk, I would like you to be more original for a change and always give credit where credit is due.

I have a nagging feeling that some of the "Dark Secrets of the Presidency" contain a lot of diluted excerpts from one onyango oloo and many others (bloggers), dating way back to the 1999-2006periods.

I may be wrong but that is what some the contents in the posts appear to be.

Nothing personal!


Anonymous said...

ok that's fine, i just added up many some other new emo backgrounds on my blog

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