The new constitution (what Kumekucha calls the wild hungry animal loose in Kenya today) is great because it gives great power to the people. But with great power comes great responsibility.
One of the responsibilities that the Kenyan people will have to speedily learn how to handle is that of making their own decisions on character, something that was previously done on our behalf, for better or for worse, by the corrupt political class.
And even as Kenyans vet judges and other personalities for sensitive public office they will also have to carefully vet various other characters for the highest office in the land. Yep. Although the presidency is not as powerful as it once was it is still powerful enough to cause concern on whom we want to occupy the office.
Revelations that came out of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission sitting in Bungoma a few hours ago (Sunday) are extremely shocking to say the least. These revelations highlight the role of the man who won the disputed 2007 general elections and the current Prime Minister Raila Odinga in the failed bloody 1982 coup attempt.
The 1982 botched coup is still shrouded in mystery to this day (although readers of my land mark book Dark secrets of the Kenyan presidency GET IT FOR FREE NOW have had a head start with lots of information that has never been in the public domain). But what emerged from the TJRC for the first time on Sunday is a clear link between the leader of the failed coup senior private Pancreas Ochuka and Raila Odinga. According to Retired Kenya Air Force officer Maxwell Kivihya, Raila met Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka several times at a house on Fourth Avenue Ngong Road in Nairobi. Ironically not very far from then President Moi’s residence at Kabarnet Gardens off Ngong Road.
It has always been a mystery as to how such a junior officer as Private Ochuka would have led a coup (although there is a precedent in the Liberian case—see my earlier post).
Other shocking revelations from the Bungoma TJRC hearings:
• A day after the abortive coup, former president Daniel arap Moi ordered that all Kenya Air Force men be rounded up and taken for hanging at Kamiti Prison. The directive was effected and servicemen and officers were locked up at Kamiti, Naivasha, King’ong’o and Shimo la Tewa prisons.
• President Moi appointed Brig Kibwana and Maj Musomba to conduct interrogations and torture of the Air force servicemen.
• Four categories of KAF airmen emerged during their arrest: those with prior knowledge of the coup, some of who escaped to Tanzania; those without prior knowledge, but who were imprisoned or hanged without legal processing and representation; those who stayed in prison, but could not be charged for lack of evidence and were later freed due to international pressure; and those who were charged and acquitted by the High Court.
• He also named a Lt Mwambura, Cpl Odero and Cpl Oriwa as some of the key players in the coup attempt that resulted in the loss of 300 lives, half of them university students and civilians.
• Only a quarter of the airmen who knew of the plot raised the alarm at the Eastleigh and Nanyuki barracks and took up arms in readiness for the next order, said Mr Kivihya. Cpl Odero ordered his men to go to the Nairobi CBD and wait for the next order, which had not come by the time loyal forces from the Kenya Army caught up with them. A few KAF airmen who had been taken to Broadcasting House were killed there by Kenya Army men.
What this blogger has revealed in the past that nobody else has ever discussed was the fact the retired President Daniel arap Moi opted to listen to an impassioned plea by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and as a result spared the life of Raila Odinga. Jaramogi thus owed a huge debt to Moi. There is plenty of evidence that the politically sly Moi cashed in on this debt many times in the years that followed. This blogger cannot help asking questions like; did this debt help Moi in dismantling the formidable Ford juggernaut which if it had been allowed to stay intact would have without doubt removed Moi from power in 92? The original FORD members split into two major factions; Kenneth Matiba went with most of the Kikuyu vote to Ford Asili and this is what inspired Kibaki to form his Democratic Party (DP). While Jaramogi formed Ford Kenya with Wamalwa Kijana, Gitobu Imanyara and others.
So to answer the question posed at the beginning of this post. Bearing in mind that the Moi government was just a continuation of the Kenyatta regime by the time the coup was attempted in 1982, what Raila did was what any freedom fighter would do. Indeed Mandela did the same in South Africa. But it is a very close call indeed considering how young the Moi government was at the time.
But what everybody agrees is that the events of August 1982 changed Daniel arap Moi forever into a dictator proper.
Past Kumekucha posts on the 82 coup attempt and its' political implications:
82 coup unanswered questions linger
Coup plot revelations by Raila himself
President for 30 mins and the chaos of 82 coup