The road to Kenya‟s independence involved serious commitment and struggle by Kenyans to liberate their country from colonialism. Some were prepared even to risk their own lives for freedom. They outstandingly featured in Kenyan politics during the struggle for independence and contributed to national development after Kenya‟s independence.

Kenyan nationalists i.e. Jomo Kenyatta, Tom Mboya, Oginga Odinga, Ronald Ngala and Daniel Arap Moi are remembered for the role they played in the struggle for Kenya‟s independence and development. They emerged from humble beginnings, but, due to colonial exploitation, they were involved in politics of their tribesmen. This provided a base upon which they became nationalist leaders.


              JOMO KENYATTA

Discuss the early life of Jomo Kenyatta.

  • Jomo Kenyatta was born some time between 1889-1895 of Agikuyu parents of the Magana clan at Ng‟enda ridge in Gatundu division of Thika district, Central province of Kenya. His Father was Muigai and his mother Wambui. In Kenyatta‟s childhood, his father died, leaving Kenyatta and his mother under the care of Ngengi: Kenyatta‟s uncle.
  • As a young boy, Kenyatta went to live with his grandfather: Kung‟u Wa Magana at Muthiga near kikuyu. There, Kenyatta was influenced by Agikuyu culture and customs on one hand and Christianity and Western Education on the other. Kenyatta‟s grandfather was a medicine man, which made Kenyatta interested in Agikuyu ritual and magic. Kenyatta was exposed to Christianity and Western education when he joined Thogoto Mission in 1909, where he learnt Christianity, reading, writing, agriculture and carpentry. At Thogoto, he was registered as Kamau Wa Ngengi. There, he met other inquisitive young men such as Musa Gitau. He completed his elementary schooling in 1912.
  • In 1915, Kenyatta was circumcised in the Gikuyu tradition. A year later, he was baptised as Johnston Kamau Wa Ngengi.
  • After his elementary school, Kenyatta went to Nairobi. By the standard of that time, he was a very educated man. He worked in various places during the First World War. For example, in 1916, he worked in a sisal farm.
  • When the British imposed forced recruitment of able-bodied Africans into the army, Kenyatta went to live with his Maasai relatives to escape the forced recruitment. There, Kenyatta was employed by an Asian trader as a clerk. This Asian‟s company was supplying meat to the British army.
  • At the end of the First World War, Kenyatta returned to Nairobi and worked as a Storekeeper in a European farm. By this time, he had already bought himself a bicycle, which added to his fame and prestige. He was a fashionable urban young man, fond of wearing a bearded Maasai ornamental belt: “Kinyata”, which determined the name he later adopted: Kenyatta.
  • In 1920, Kenyatta got married to Grace Wahu. Between 1921-1926, he worked in the Nairobi Municipal Council‟s water Department as a Stores clerk and Metre reader at a salary of 550sh per month, which enabled him to build a good house on a piece of land that he had bought at Dagoreti near Nairobi. He also paid for his brother‟s education at Thogoto Mission school.

 Analyse Jomo Kenyatta’s political career.

  • In 1924, Kenyatta joined the kikuyu Central Association, of which he became Secretary, charged with the responsibility of translating, drafting letters and dealing with correspondence.
  • In 1928, he became editor of KCA‟s newspaper: “Muigui Thania” (Conciliator), in which he articulated the Agikuyu culture and urged people to take their children to school. He supported his people‟s stand on female circumcision and opposition to the Missionaries. The paper was printed by an Asian-owned press, which shows Kenyatta‟s ability to work with people of diverse backgrounds.
  • In 1928, Kenyatta accompanied KCA officials to the Hilton Young commission. The following year, he was sent by KCA to Britain to present African grievances to the colonial Secretary in London. He also articulated KCA grievances on taxation, land alienation, African education and representation in the Legico.
  • In 1931, Kenyatta went back to England, accompanied by Parmenas Mukiri to present KCA grievances before the Joint Select Committee on closer union of East African countries and managed to convince the colonial government that Africans did not support the idea of an east African federation.
  • From 1832-1933, Kenyatta studied political Science and Economics at Moscow University, where he was invited by George Padmore: a Pan Africanist from Trinidad. In 1933, Kenyatta‟s studies were councilled due to Padmore‟s disagreement with the Russians. He returned to Britain to pursue studies in Anthropology and Economics at the University College: London.
  • In 1936, while pursuing his studies in London, Kenyatta joined other Black nationalists in condemning Italian invasion and aggression against Ethiopia. He became the Secretary of the International friends of Abyssinia Organization (IFAO), whose aim was to denounce the Italian action.
  • In 1938, Kenyatta published his book: Facing Mount Kenya, which talked about Agikuyu culture to compliment his earlier one on the Phonetic and Tonal structure of Gikuyu.
  • While in England, Kenyatta travelled to other European countries such as Germany, France and Russia and got exposed to their ways of life. He also met nationalists from India and Nigeria, who inspired and transformed him into a nationalist. He expressed his views in an article titled„give Back our Land‟, which was published by a British communist paper: The Sunday Worker.

 What role did Jomo Kenyatta play in Pan Africanism? (In what ways did Jomo Kenyatta contribute to Pan Africanism?)

He was one of the founder-members of the International Friends of Abyssinia Organization, which condemned the 1935 Italian invasion of Ethiopia.

Alongside others, he set up the International African Service Bureau in 1937 to propagate Pan Africanism.

Through the rallies he addressed in London, Kenyatta attacked British colonial policies in Kenya such as the Carter land Commission and the Destocking policy among the Akamba in 1938. He also supported the formation of the Taita Hills Association.

Since the British were against political agitation during the Second World War, Kenyatta‟s activities were slowed down. He settled down as a farmer in Storington: West Sussex where he met and married Edna Clarke.

Together with other Pan Africanists such as W E B Dubois and Kwame Nkruma, Kenyatta helped in organizing the 1945 Pan African Congress in Manchester, which adopted the slogans “Freedom now” and “Africa for Africans”. He then returned to Kenya in 1946 to fight for independence. Other Pan Africanists also returned to their home countries for the same purpose.

Explain the role of Jomo Kenyatta in the struggle for Kenya’s independence.

  • In 1947, he took over the Presidency of the Kenya African Union after James Gichuru stepped down in his favour.
  • He conducted rallies all over Kenya to foster nationalism. He adopted a non-violent approach and strived to unite moderates and radicals.
  • In 1952, he and KAU leaders like Bildad Kagia, Fred Kubai, Paul Ngei, Achieng‟ Oneko and Kung‟u Karumba were arrested and imprisoned for their alleged involvement in the Maumau, whose activities alarmed the British Government, although Kenyatta was not the leader of the Maumau and had publicly condemned the kind of violence adopted by the Maumau leaders. He was sentenced to serve a seven-year jail term with hard labour. His detention however turned him into a national hero.
  • In 1959, he completed his prison sentence, which he served in Lokitaung in North-western Kenya, but remained restricted at Lodwa, where he was joined by his wife: Ngina and his daughters: Jane and Christine.
  • In 1960, Ambu Patel: a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, Oginga Odinga and elected members of the Legico mobilized public support in the campaign for Kenyatta‟s release. Indeed, Ambu Patel formed the Release Jomo Committee for this purpose.
  • In 1960, Kenyatta was elected in absentia as President of KANU. KANU won the January 1961 elections, but declined to form a government until Kenyatta was released. Kenyatta was finally released in August 1961 and was taken to Gatundu, where he received a Hero‟s welcome. Again, James Gichuru stepped down in Kenyatta‟s favour as president of KANU.
  • Kenyatta joined the Legico as member for Fort Hall (Murang‟a) constituency after Kariuki Njiiri stepped down for him. In 1962, he attended the Second Lancaster House Conference in London: U.K, to discuss constitutional amendments.
  • On 1st June 1963, Kenya attained internal self government (Madaraka), with Kenyatta as Prime Minister. On 12th December 1964, Kenya became a republic (Jamhuri), with Kenyatta as Kenya‟s first president. Kenyatta assured the White settlers that they could stay and live peacefully with Africans in Kenya.


What role did Jomo Kenyatta play in nation building? (Explain the role of Jomo Kenyatta in nation building).

  • Through his effort, KADU and the African People‟s party joined KANU in 1964 for enhancement of national unity, thus setting pace for national development rather than political wrangling.
  • He initiated the Harambe spirit, through which schools, hospitals and other facilities were established and urged Kenyans to work hard in the spirit of self reliance to eliminate the problems of poverty, ignorance and disease.
  • In line with the stated objectives of the KANU manifesto, Kenyatta supported the liberation of other African countries at every opportunity.
  • Under Kenyatta, Kenya supported the O A U, the ideals of the Commonwealth and the principle of Nonalignment, essential for Kenya‟s upkeep within Kenya itself and abroad.

Explain the problems that Jomo Kenyatta faced as Kenya’s president. (What challenges characterised Jomo Kenyatta‟s presidency in Kenya? Or:

Explain the difficulties/setbacks encountered by Kenyatta as President of Kenya. Or:

Explain the problems that Kenya faced after independence.)

In his Nation building task, Kenyatta encountered challenges characterised by problems facing Kenya after independence, such as:

  • Political assassinations. Tom Mboya, J.M Kariuki and Pio Gama Pinto were killed in suspicious circumstances, causing citizens to lose confidence in the government.
  • Poverty, ignorance and disease, which had to be addressed immediately.
  • The Shifta menace, characterised by banditry in the North-eastern province and the continuous threat by the Kenyan Somali to secede to Somalia, which shifted attention from Economic development, but was successfully overcome in 1968.
  • Lack of adequate funds to provide for Kenya‟s development needs.
  • Poor transport and communication, characterised by lack of a good road network.
  • KADU‟s campaign for a federal (Majimbo) rather than a unitary system of government.
  • Shortage of manpower since the colonial education policy left Africans less equipped for skilled employment.
  • A split within KANU, which led to a Break-away by radical leaders such as Oginga Odinga,

Bildad Kagia and Achieng‟ Oneko, who formed the Kenya People‟s Union (KPU)  due to Kenyatta‟s compromise with the Whites over land, agreeing to safeguard their property and interests in addition to buying and then subdividing European farms through land-buying companies.

In 1977, Kenyatta suffered a mild heart attack. He died peacefully in his sleep while in Mombasa on 22nd august 1978. In a State burial ceremony attended by several heads of states, Kenyatta was laid to rest at a mausoleum at Parliament buildings in Nairobi.


              TOM MBOYA

Analyse/discuss the early life of Tom Mboya.

  • Thomas Joseph Mboya was born to Leonardus Ndiege and Marcela Awuor: both Luos from Rusinga Island in Nyanza province of Kenya on a settlers‟ sisal estate in Kilimambogo near Thika, where his father worked, on 15th august 1930.
  • Mboya attended Donyo Sabuk primary school before proceeding to saint Mary‟s Yala, where he sat for his Junior Secondary School examination in 1945.
  • He joined the Holy Ghost College in Mang‟u in 1946, from where he obtained the African Secondary School Certificate. He lacked school fees and could not continue with higher education.
  • He then undertook a sanitary Inspectors course at the Royal Sanitary Institute in Kabete, from where he graduated in 1950 and where he had been elected President of the students Council, an experience that later influenced his political career.
  • In 1951, Mboya was employed as a Sanitary Inspector by the Nairobi municipal council. Here, Mboya was exposed to European racism against Africans, which triggered his interest in the Trade union movement. He soon became Chairman of the Kenya Inspectors Association.
  • In 1953, Mboya married his first wife: Ogweni, with who he begat a daughter: Rosemary Alakie, but with who he separated in 1954. In 1961, he married Pamela Odede, with who he had four children.

Explain the role played by Tom Mboya in the Trade Union movement. 

Because Tom Mboya began working during the Emergency years, he entered politics through the Trade Union movement, because political activities were banned.

  • In 1951, Mboya joined the Nairobi African Local government Servants Association (NALGSA), of which he became Vice president in 1952. This was a Staff Welfare association, but Mboya hoped to transform it into a Trade union.
  • In the very 1952, the Kenya Federation of registered Trade unions was formed to coordinate Trade union activities. Mboya became its Secretary General and managed to triple its membership by persuading staff associations to register as trade unions. Mboya affiliated KFRTU to the International confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) in the USA and the British Trade Union Congress (BTUC). Because of such links, the colonial government in Kenya could not ban trade unions in the country.
  • In 1953, Mboya became secretary General for the Kenya Local Government Workers Union (KLGWU), which was an Umbrella organization of all local government workers unions in Kenya. He used this position to argue for fair treatment of indigenous Africans and to protest against mass arrests, detention and torture.
  • Mboya championed the formation of the Tanganyika Federation of Labour and the Uganda Trade Union. He attended seminars on the education of workers in Switzerland, Brussels and London, during which he met Jawaharlal Nehru: the leader of the Indian Trade Union congress, apart from acquiring ideas on organization of similar seminars. He demanded the release of detained trade unionists and political leaders.
  • In 1954, Mboya won a government scholarship to study at Ruskin College: Oxford, United Kingdom, but he deferred the course to 1955 due to his commitment in trade unionism.
  • In 1955, the Mombasa dock workers called upon Mboya to mediate in their strike, which threatened to undermine activities at the dock. He won for them a 33% pay-rise and improved working conditions.
  • In October 1955, Mboya joined Ruskin College: Oxford, to study Economics, Political and Industrial Relations. During his stay in Britain, he wrote an article titled: The Kenyan Question: An African Answer, which boosted awareness of the Kenyan situation and the need for democracy. The article received overwhelming international attention.
  • On completing his studies, Mboya was sponsored by the American Committee on Africa to visit the USA, where he was received by unionists such as George Meaney of the African Federation Of labour Congress And industrial Organization (AFLCIO). He gave public lectures on African grievances in Kenya and secured scholarships for Africans from different countries to study in U S universities.
  • Because Mboya was very organized, with high intelligence, hard work and other personal abilities, he was appointed to various advisory boards and committees. For instance, in 1958, he was made the Chairman of East, Central and southern area Committees of the international Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). He also became Chairman of the All Africa People’s Conference (AAPC).

Explain how Tom Mboya’s involvement in the Trade Union Movement influenced his political career.

In 1952, Mboya joined the Kenya African Union (KAU), of which he became Treasurer before it was banned by the government and its leaders detained.

On his return to Kenya from studies in Britain, he participated in and won election to the legislative Council in 1957 as member for Nairobi East constituency. He and seven other elected Africans formed the African Elected Members organization (AEMO), which opposed the Lyttelton and Lennox Boyd constitutional reforms and of which he became Secretary.

In 1958, on Kwame Nkruma’s advice, Mboya formed the Nairobi People’s Convention Party (NPCP), which ran a newspaper: Uhuru. It lasted for three years and merged with KANU in 1960.

Mboya closely worked with Julius Nyerere of Tanzania in forming the Pan African Freedom movement for East and Central Africa (PAFMECA) to coordinate and speed up the liberation movement in the region.

Mboya was one of the delegates to the 1960 First Lancaster House Conference, which agreed on the formation of a national political party, paving the way for the emergence of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), of which Mboya became Secretary General.

In 1962, Mboya attended the Second Lancaster House Conference, purposed to draft Kenya‟s Independence constitution. He chaired the committee in charge of drafting KANU‟s views at the conference.

Explain the role of Tom Mboya in nation building. (Discuss Tom Mboya‟s contribution in nation building in Kenya.)

  • As Minister for Labour in the coalition government of KANU and KADU in 1962, Mboya drew the Labour Relations charter to regulate relations between employers and employees.
  • As Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Mboya was involved in constitutional amendments in 1963, by which Kenya became a Republic in 1964.
  • As Minister for Planning and Economic development, Mboya drafted and published the Sessional paper nO.10 of 1965 on African Socialism and its application to planning in Kenya. He also produced the 1966 and 1970 development plan for Kenya.
  • As Secretary General for KANU, Mboya organized the 1966 Limuru conference, which organized fresh KANU elections and resolved the conflict between radicals and moderates in KANU. It replaced the position of Vice President with seven Vice Presidents: one from each of the six regions and one from Nairobi. It was purposed to remove Oginga Odinga from the post of Party Vice president.
  • Mboya took advantage of the contacts he made with U S President: J.F Kennedy and the funds he raised through the American Students Foundation in 1959 to organize students airlifts to the USA for further studies. Through the scheme, over 2000 students were trained.
  • In 1963, Mboya published an autobiography titled Freedom and after, in which he expressed great optimism for the future of Kenya.
  • On 5th July 1969, tom Mboya was shot dead outside a Chemists shop on what is now Moi Avenue, allegedly by Nahashon Njenga.
  • Mboya’s death strained relations between the Agikuyu and the Luo due to suspicions that the government was privy to Mboya’s assassination. Indeed, as Kenyatta addressed a crowd in Kisumu that same year, his motorcade was pelted with stones and rotten eggs, leading to bloody reprisals and to the arrest and detention of Oginga Odinga, Achieng‟ Oneko and other Luo leaders. The Kenya People‟s Union was banned.
  • Some of Mboya‟s speeches are contained in a book titled The Challenge Of Nationhood, which was published after Mboya‟s death.



Assess the early life of Ronald Ngala.

  • Ronald Gideon Ngala was born in 1922 at Gotani in Kilifi district of the Coast province of Kenya. His Father: Vidzo Wan gala, moved to and settled at Vishakani near Kaloleni, where he worked for a mission as a carpenter and where Ronald was baptized.
  • In 1930, Ronald joined Saintt John‟s school: Kaloleni, from where he proceeded to Shimo La Tewa School and the Alliance High school, from where he proceeded to Makerere University in Uganda for a Diploma course in Education.
  • On completion of his training, Ronald went back to and taught at Saint Johns and then Mbale Secondary school in Taita before he proceeded to Bristol in Britain for further studies.
  • In 1949, Ngala wrote a book on the Giriama culture. In 1952, he became head teacher for Buxton School, which later became Mombasa Industrial Training Centre. He then became supervisor of schools in Mombasa in 1957.

Analyse/assess Ronald Ngala’s political career. (Explain the role of Ronald Ngala in Kenya‟s political arena.)

  • Ronald Ngala‟s political career began when he joined the Coast African Association (C A A), which was formed in 1943 and through which the coastal Africans could air their grievances.
  • In the 1950s, Ngala was appointed member of the Mombasa African Advisory Council, which was formed to represent African interests on the Mombasa municipal Board. He was able to meet other coastal politicians such as Francis Hamisi, who later inspired him to join politics.
  • In 1955, Ngala and others formed the Mombasa African Democratic Union (MADU). In 1956, Ngala assisted in formation of the Kilifi African People‟s Union (KAPU).
  • In 1957, Ngala was elected alongside seven others to the Legico. He represented the Coastal rural constituencies. He then became Treasurer of the African Elected Members Organization (AEMO), which demanded further representation, reduction of Voter requirements and that elections be conducted on a One Man One Vote basis.
  • Alongside Tom Mboya, Ngala was sent to London to press for further constitutional reforms from the British government, which led to the Lennox Boyd Constitution, which provided for the increase of African representation from eight to fourteen and for special membership in the Legico, with four members for each race.
  • Unsatisfied with the proposals made by Lennox Boyd in 1957, Ronald Ngala, Jeremiah Nyaga, Bernard Mate, Daniel Arap Moi, Masinde Muliro and Taita Arap Toet resigned from the (AEMO) and joined Masinde Muliro‟s Kenya national party (KNP), which, being multiracial, embraced Arab and Asian members of the Legico and accepted the idea of having nominated seats. Gikonyo Kiano, Oginga Odinga, Tom Mboya and other members of the AEMO formed the Kenya Independent Movement (K I M), which rejected the multiracial concessions of KNP and the idea of having nominated and special seats in the Legico.
  • With Ngala‟s influence, members of both K I M and KNP met in Kiambu on 19th November 1959 as members of AEMO to forge a united front to represent African interests in what became known as the First Lancaster House Conference in London in 1960.
  • In 1960, Ngala was elected in absentia to the post of Treasurer in the KANU party, but he declined the appointment when he returned and argued that KANU was dominated by large ethnic groups i.e. the Agikuyu and the Luo. Shortly later, at a meeting in Ngong‟, Ngala and other leaders formed the Kenya African Democratic union (KADU). Among KADU‟s affiliate district based groups were: the Mombasa African District Union, the Abaluhyia Political Union, the Kalenjinn Political Alliance and the Maasai United Front.
  • In the first Lancaster House Conference of 1960, Ngala represented KADU, advocating a Federal (Majimbo) constitution. Led by Mboya, KANU favoured centralization of power on the Presidency.
  • After KANU won the 1961 elections but declined to form the government due to Kenyatta‟s continued detention, Ngala formed the government, supported by Michael Blundel and his New Kenya party. Later that year, Ngala was appointed the Minister for Education. He became the leader of Government Business. In 1962, at the Second Lancaster house conference, where Ngala led the KADU delegation, It was resolved that Kenya adopt a Federal (Majimbo) constitution with a strong central government. In the 1963 elections held under this new constitution, KANU won. Ngala became the leader of the opposition and M.P for Kilifi constituency.
  • Persuaded by Oginga Odinga and other colleagues, Ngala disbanded KADU in 1964. He was appointed Minister for cooperative and social services in 1966. Later, he was made Minister for Power and Communication.
  • On 25th December 1972, Ronald Gideon Ngala died in a road accident near Konza. Interestingly, the position of Leader of Government Business that was held by Ronald Ngala in 1961 was held for three months in 1998 by his son: Noah Katana Ngala. Ronald Ngala played a significant role in shaping the politics of the Coastal region during the colonial period.



Discuss the early life of Oginga Odinga.

  • Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was born to Mama Opondo Nyar Magolo and Mzee Odinga in 1911 at Nyamira Kang‟o village, Sakwa Location in Bondo district of Nyanza province of Kenya.
  • In 1926, Oginga began his formal education at Maranda Primary school, where he sat for the Common Entrance examination in 1929. from 1930-1934, he attended Maseno Intermediate school. There, he became a school Prefect. With his friends from neighbouring clans, Oginga formed the Coast Boys Association to assist in setting and marking examinations.
  • In 1935, he joined Alliance High School in Kikuyu. Two years later, he proceeded to Makerere University College in Uganda, from where he graduated in 1939 with a Diploma in Education.
  • On his return to Kenya, Oginga was assigned a Teaching job at Maseno School between 19401942. He later became the Head teacher of Maseno Veterinary school from 1943-1946.
  • At Maseno, Oginga worked with Europeans and resented (opposed) racism. He dropped his Christian name Adonijah in favour of Ajuma. In fact, he insisted that his children be baptised in church, but with African names. In 1947, Oginga resigned from Maseno Veterinary School to venture into business.

Discuss Oginga Odinga’s socioeconomic pursuits. (Explain Oginga Odinga‟s socioeconomic contribution to development in Kenya.)

While Kenyatta viewed political power as the avenue for economic strength, Oginga Odinga felt the need for Africans to attain economic power, which would then give them political standing.

That was why he ventured into business to enable him to fight against White domination.

  • In 1945, Oginga and four others founded the Bondo Thrift Association (which was later renamed the Luo Thrift and Trading Cooperation (LUTATCO)) to raise funds for starting a business in order to break the European and Asian Economic monopoly in Kenya. Under Oginga‟s chairmanship, LUTATCO built shops and posho mills and traded in foodstuffs, fish, hides and skins. They even owned Ramogi press, which was first based in Nairobi, but was later moved to Kisumu and published newspapers such as Nyanza Times, radio Posta, Sauti Ya Muafrika, Mumenyereri and a Luo publication called  Ramogi, which advanced anticolonial sentiments and was edited by Achieng‟ Oneko: Oginga‟s student at Maseno, who became a prominent Kenyan nationalist. The two built Ramogi House and Africa House in Kisumu in 1956.
  • To improve the welfare of his Luo people, Oginga Odinga formed the Luo Union: a welfare organization for Luos living in urban areas, which in 1953 merged with other small locational and Clan associations to form the Dala Moro Luo Union of East Africa, still with Oginga Odinga as Patron. At this point, Oginga was the undisputed hero of the Luo community. His admirers referred to him as Jaramogi, which means Son of Ramogi, Ramogi being the mythical ancestor of all Luo.
  • In 1954, Counciller Ambrose Ofafa of Nairobi (a Luo from Alego) was assassinated by Maumau warriors, allegedly for being a collaborator. The British urged the Luo to join Agikuyu home guards and kill the Agikuyu masses in revenge, but Oginga went to Nairobi and urge the Luo to understand the course of the Maumau war and avoid killing fellow Africans. He urged the Luo to raise funds to build a Memorial for Ofafa. He personally travelled across major east African towns raising funds for the building of the Ofafa Memorial Hall in 1957, which became the headquarters of the Luo Union.

Assess Oginga Odinga’s political career. (Explain the role of Oginga Odinga in Kenya‟s political arena.)

  • From 1947-1949, he was elected member of the Central Nyanza district Council.
  • When Jomo Kenyatta visited Kisumu in 1948, Oginga Odinga urged the Luo to join KAU, which Kenyatta had reorganized.
  • In 1956, Oginga was elected Central Nyanza representative to the Legico, joining seven others from various parts of Kenya. He then became Chairman of the African Elected Members organization (AEMO).
  • By the end of 1958, he and other leaders of AEMO together with Asian members of the Legico and one white member, formed the Constituency Elected Members Organization (CEMO), which demanded further constitutional reforms and the release of Jomo Kenyatta. They sent a multiracial delegation to London to resolve the constitutional stalemate. The government promised a new constitution later in 1959.
  • That same 1959, there was a split in the AEMO. Masinde Muliro, Daniel Arap Moi, Bernard Mate, Taita Arap Toet, Jeremiah Nyaga and Ronald Ngala formed the National party of Kenya, which was later joined by all Asian and Arab members of the Legico. Oginga Odinga, Tom Mboya and Gikonyo Kiano formed the Kenya Independence Movement (KIM), with Oginga Odinga as President, Mboya as Secretary and Kiano as Chairman.
  • In 1960, after the first Lancaster house Conference, Oginga Odinga and other members formed the Kenya African national Union (KANU), of which Oginga was vice President. Oginga travelled to Hungary, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, the USSR and other Eastern European countries, which created an ideological rift within KANU as Oginga was accused of being a Communist agent.
  • Under the coalition government agreed on at the Second Lancaster House Conference of 1962, Oginga Odinga became minister for home Affairs.

Discuss the importance of Oginga Odinga in postcolonial Kenya.

  • Between 1964-1966, President Kenyatta appointed Oginga Odinga to the posts of Vice President and Minister for Home Affairs as a reward for Oginga‟s and Luo support during the struggle for independence.
  • Soon after, Oginga Odinga and other radicals disagreed with Kenyatta and his colleagues over Kenyatta’s Land policy as they demanded immediate compensation of the Maumau fighters, free land for the landless, nationalization of some companies and active trade unionism. But Kenyatta and other moderates wanted gradual change from colonialism to independence, including making agreements for large scale settler farms to be bought by the government, from which landless Africans would buy them. Kenyatta and his colleagues hoped that by so-doing, they would get the much needed foreign aid from and establish close ties with the West. They also agreed that Trade unions be controlled by the government for the well being of the employees.
  • In mid 1964, it was rumoured that Oginga Odinga, whose detractors had branded a communist, was planning to seize and take over control of the government with the assistance of communist sympathizers while the Prime Minister (Kenyatta) was away and that he was smuggling Communist arms into Kenya, which Oginga dismissed as propaganda, owing to the fact that the arms in question were imported from Britain with the knowledge and authority from Kenyatta and the then Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  • Due to attacks and pressure from the U S Ambassador to Kenya and Oginga‟s own colleagues, Oginga was kicked out of his influential position during KANU‟s 1966 Annual Delegates Conference at Limuru, when the post of the party‟s vice president was abolished and replaced with seven vice presidents representing six regions and Nairobi. Oginga then resigned as Kenya‟s vice President and Minister for Home Affairs.
  • That same 1966, Oginga and 29 other members of parliament resigned and formed an opposition party: the Kenya People‟s Union (KPU), which contested 28 of the 29 vacant seats in a little general election that was called that year, but won less than ten seats, making it difficult for KPU leadership to expand the party‟s membership in addition to the fact that KANU was out to undermine KPU.
  • Oginga published his book “Not yet Uhuru”, in which he wanted Kenyatta to know that the Europeans still wanted to rule Kenya from behind the scene and reiterated that it was time for Kenyans to manage their country, to produce wealth and avoid dependence on foreign aid.
  • KPU was proscribed in 1969 after Oginga Odinga, Achieng Oneko and its other members were detained when Kenyatta‟s motorcade was stoned at a gathering in Kisumu due to Luo anger over Tom Mboya‟s death and Kenyatta‟s hostile speech against Oginga Odinga, at which thirteen people were killed and many others injured when the president‟s Security personnel opened fire against the mob.
  • After Oginga’s release in 1971, hurdles were put against him by the government, which made it difficult for him to return to active politics. He even bought a new Life Membership of KANU in order to participate in the 1974 general elections, but was still disqualified on the basis that he had not demonstrated a genuine change of heart as required by KANU.
  • Oginga embarked on reasserting himself as the leader of the Luo. Aspiring Luo members of Parliament who had Oginga‟s support got elected while those who opposed Oginga got little or no votes. Oginga himself took up farming and business.
  • In 1980, President Daniel Arap Moi appointed Oginga chairman of the Cotton lint and seed marketing Board in addition to signing and presenting him with a KANU Life Membership card, but shortly later at a rally in Mombasa, Oginga described Kenyatta as a Land grabber, which prompted President Moi to throw Oginga back into political limbo, stating that whoever did not respect Kenyatta‟s leadership would not appreciate the Nyayo government.
  • In 1982, there was speculation that Oginga and George Anyona were planning to form their own party, which prompted the government to swiftly amend the constitution, making Kenya a Dejure one-party state (one-party state by law). Later that same year, Oginga Odinga was put under house arrest and was restricted to his Kisumu home as pro-Odinga members of the cabinet such as Oloo Aringo were fired after Oginga was suspected of having been involved in the August 1982 coup attempt. The restriction was lifted before the 1983 General elections.
  • In 1984, Oginga tried but failed to launch and register the Ramogi development Trust (TADET), a non-political organization aimed at alleviating poverty in Luoland by giving financial assistance to the people, because the government denied it registration.
  • In 1987, Oginga embarked on writing open letters to President Moi on the issue of change. He demanded more freedom and democracy and warned Kenyan leaders against blocking demands for more openness and treating Kenya as their personal property.

Explain the role of Oginga Odinga in the struggle for multipartism in Kenya.

In the 1990s, Oginga Odinga linked up with Kenneth Matiba, Charles Rubia, his son Raila Odinga and many pressure groups, including lawyers, the Clergy and professionals to set up a public campaign for reintroduction of pluralism in Kenya.

In his New Year message to Kenyans in 1991, Oginga prophesied that before the year was over, the fight for multipartism would have been won. In February that same year, he announced the formation of the National Democratic party (NDP), which was denied registration on the basis that Kenya was still a Dejure one-party state.

In August 1991, Oginga Odinga teamed up with Masinde Muliro, Martin Shikuku, Philip Gachoka, George Nthenge and Ahmed Salum Bamahriz, with whom he formed the forum for the restoration of Democracy (FORD) as a Pressure group to fight for pluralism. When the government repealed Section 2A of the Constitution in December 1991, Ford evolved into an opposition party, of which he became interim National chairman. It later split into two factions:

Oginga’s FORD-Kenya and Matiba‟s Ford-Asili.

After the historical multiparty General Elections of December 1992, the opposition lost to KANU. Odinga became the Leader of the opposition as Moi formed the government.

Oginga adopted the policy of Cooperation with the ruling party for national development, although his move brought about disagreements with other Ford Officials, leading to resignation of  key members of the party‟s Executive such as Paul Mwite, Gitobu Imanyara, Kiraitu Murungi and Maalim Farah). Oginga however remained in control of the party.

On 20th January 1994, Oginga Odinga passed away. His son Oburu Odinga succeeded him as Member of Parliament for Bondo constituency.

Explain why Oginga Odinga is regarded as the father of opposition politics in the history of  Kenya. (Explain the role of Oginga Odinga in opposition politics in Kenya.)

He led the Kenya Independent Movement to oppose the multiracial concession  and the idea of having special seats proposed in the Lennox Boyd Constitution.

After independence, he opposed Kenyatta‟s Land policy, which was accommodative of the settlers. He teamed up with Bildad Kagia and others to demand radical changes in which land would be given to the landless, and adoption of the Nationalization policy. Kenyatta and his moderate colleagues wanted gradual changes. Oginga was viewed as a Communist, while other leaders were pursuing capitalist ideals.

In 1966, at the Limuru Conference, after his removal from KANU‟s vice Presidency, Oginga Odinga resigned as Kenya‟s Vice President and Minister for Home Affairs. He teamed up with other dissidents and formed an opposition Party: The Kenya People‟s Union (KPU). The party was banned in 1969 by the Kenyatta government since it had got less than ten of the twenty-eight seats contested in the little General Election held in 1966.

Between 1970-1990, Oginga remained critical of the government. He was put under house arrest and barred from contesting Parliamentary elections.

Oginga Odinga is remembered for the struggle for the introduction of multipartism. In February 1991, he launched an opposition political party: the National Democratic Party (NDP).

Together with Martin Shikuku, Masinde Muliro and others, Oginga Odinga formed the Forum For The Restoration Of Democracy (FORD) as a Pressure-group to fight for Pluralism.

When section 2A of the constitution was repealed in 1991, FORD evolved into an Opposition party, with Oginga as its interim Chairman. FORD later split into FORD-Kenya under Oginga and FORD-Asili under Kenneth Matiba.

In the Multiparty elections of 1992, the Opposition lost to KANU, but Oginga Odinga became the Leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament.



Discuss the early life of Daniel Arap Moi.

  • Daniel Kapkoirios Toroitich Arap Moi was born on 2nd September 1924 at Kurienguo village in Sacho, Baringo district of the rift Valley province of Kenya. He was the fourth-born child of Kimoi Arap Chebii.
  • When Moi was two years old, Chebii died, leaving Moi under the care of his mother and his elder brother: Tuitoek.
  • In 1934, Moi joined the African Inland Mission (African Inland Church), where he was baptized as Daniel on 20th October 1936.
  • In 1942, Moi started his Secondary school Education at Kapsabet. He then joined a Teacher Training college in Kapsabet in 1944, after which he taught at Tambach Government African School. He became Head teacher of Kabarnet Government African School in 1948.
  • In 1949, Moi passed his matriculation examination and became a P2 teacher. He undertook a Teachers course at Kagumo and an In-Service course at Jeans school Kabete (now the Kenya institute of Administration) in 1950. by 1955, Moi was Assistant principal for Tambach Teachers Training college in Kabarnet.
  • Moi then married his wife: Lena, with who he had children. It was while at Tambach that his life and career changed.

Analyse/assess the political career of Daniel Arap Moi.

  • In 1955, Daniel Arap Moi was elected to the Legico as Member for Rift Valley,, after his predecessor: J. Ole Tameo resigned for unclear reasons.
  • In the 1957 Legico elections, Moi won by a land-slide against Justus Ole Tipis and soon joined others in the African Elected Members Organization (AEMO).
  • In 1960, Moi was elected Acting Treasurer of KANU in absentia since he was by then attending a Commonwealth Parliamentary association seminar in Britain. He however did not take up the post when he returned.
  • That very 1960, Moi teamed up with Ronald Ngala and founded the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) to challenge KANU and to defend the interests of minority tribes like the Kalenjin.
  • In 1961, Moi was re-elected as M.P for Baringo North and was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education.
  • In 1964, Moi became the Minister for Local Government, after which he was appointed Minister for home Affairs.
  • From 1967-1978, Moi was Kenya‟s Vice President. In 1968, he became Leader of Government Business.
  • In 1976, a group of politicians, including Paul Ngei, Jackson Angaine, Kihika Kimani, Njenga Karume and James Gichuru failed due to lack of Kenyatta‟s support in their move to change the Constitution in order to prevent Moi from succeeding Kenyatta.

Discuss the life/role of Daniel Arap Moi as Kenya’s President.

  • After Kenyatta‟s death in 1978, Daniel Arap Moi ascended to the Presidency of Kenya. He launched the Nyayo philosophy of Peace, love and Unity, proclaiming to follow Kenyatta‟s footsteps concerning the governance of Kenya. In the initial stages of his presidency, Moi gained popularity by releasing some political detainees such as George Anyona, Marie Seroney and Mashengu wa Mwachovi.
  • In 1979, Moi was re-elected unopposed as M.P for Baringo North. Also, the highest honour in the Republic: The Chief of the Golden Heart (CGH) was bestowed on him by the cabinet.
  • Unfortunately, junior officers from the Kenya Air force staged a coup on 1st August 1982, a culmination of the resentment that had been brewing in the 1970s. They were however defeated by the loyal officers of the Kenya Army under General Jackson Mulinge. With this, Moi‟s style of administration became authoritarian, marked by torture and detention of dissenting individuals without trial. Such political detainees included Gibson Kamau Curia, Kenneth Matiba, Charles Rubia, Gitobu Imanyara and Raila Odinge.
  • In response, the world Bank and the International Monitory Fund (IMF) stopped funding Kenya, leaving Moi with no option but to allow multipartism by repealing section 2A of the constitution of Kenya in 1991 in addition to other reforms that enabled him to consolidate his power as President. The Kenya political scene was then characterised by ethnic clashes and a highly fragmented opposition, within which Moi exposed division in addition to ethnic tension all over Kenya for him to be re-elected as President in 1992 and 1997.
  • Barred by the constitution to contest the 2002 Presidential elections, Moi picked Uhuru Kenyatta (a son of the first President of Kenya) as his successor, which deeply divided KANU, causing some members to break away and  form or join other parties such as the Liberal Democratic party.
  • On 30th December 2002, Moi peacefully handed over presidential power to Mwai Kibaki, whose National rainbow Coalition (NARC) defeated KANU in the 2002 General elections, in which he also was replaced as M.P for Baringo Central by his son: Gideon Moi, who was elected unopposed.
  • In 2003, Moi stepped down as KANU‟s Chairman, bringing his five-decade-long political era to an end.

In what ways did Daniel Arap Moi contribute to nation building in Kenya? (Discuss the role of Daniel Arap Moi in nation building in Kenya.)

  • He introduced the Nyayo philosophy of Peace, love and Unity, intended to enhance national unity and cooperation. He conducted several Harambes across  the country to support needy cases e.g. the disabled and poor.
  • He helped improve infrastructure by extending roads, introduction of Nyayo buses and building of airports in Mombasa and Eldoret.
  • He helped improve the Agricultural sector, which is the backbone of Kenya‟s economy by, for instance, establishing the Nyayo Tea Zones to increase tea production.
  • He launched the District focus for rural Development (DFRD), which involved local people and the identification and implementation of projects based on the priorities of the community as a means of ensuring a balanced economic development.
  • In health, he helped expand medical facilities and services through building of Nyayo Wards across the country.

In what ways did Daniel Arap Moi promote/step up education in Kenya?

  • His reign saw the change from the 7-4-2-3 to the 8-4-4 system.
  • He helped increase the number of schools, universities and middle-level colleges by organizing Harambes to assist learning institutions.
  • He introduced the Nyayo Milk program in primary schools to ease hunger among children from poor Unfortunately, the Free milk program could not be sustained.

In what ways did Moi win international recognition? (Why did Daniel Arap Moi gain international recognition as a great leader?)

Internationally, Moi gained recognition as a great leader in the following ways:

  • He ably represented Kenyans abroad during meetings of the United nations organization, the Commonwealth of nations and the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union).
  • He opened the Kenya-Tanzania border in 1983, hence restoring East African economic cooperation after the collapse of the East African Community in 1977.
  • He helped revive the East African Cooperation in the 1990s and led Peace initiatives in East and Central Africa as well as the horn of Africa, particularly Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Explain the challenges/setbacks encountered by Daniel Arap Moi as Kenya’s President. (What problems did Daniel Arap Moi face as Kenya‟s President? Or:

Explain the factors that undermined Daniel Arap Moi‟s Presidency.)

Towards the end of Moi‟s reign, his government was increasingly unpopular due to various weaknesses such as the following:

  • Corruption, evidenced in the grabbing of public utilities and funds, e.g. the Goldenberg scandal, which involved the loss of billions of shillings from state coffers.
  • A lot of poverty in Kenya due to corruption and a weakened economy, with 50% of Kenyans living below the Poverty line at the beginning of the 21st century, forcing the government to embark on Poverty Reduction programs to alleviate (arrest) the situation.
  • Amnesty International and other groups accused the Moi regime for Human Rights violation. They cited torture, arbitrary arrest, the unsolved murder of Robert Ouko and that of Bishop Alexander Muge as well as tribal clashes among other cases.
  • Kenya was diplomatically isolated by the dorner community because of her strained relations with Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda, which caused loss of revenue.
  • Kenya was stripped of aid by the World Bank and the International Monitory Fund.
  • The spread of HIV-AIDS.
  • The attempted coup of 1st August 1982 by junior officers of the Kenya Air force.
  • Constant criticism over governance during the One-party period, which culminated in the agitation for multipartism.
  • Opposition parties like FORD-Kenya, FORD-People, National development Party and NARC rivalled his party: KANU.
  • Natural disasters like famine (1984 and 1993) and the Elnino rains (1997), which weakened the economy.
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