When it became apparent that Kenyans could not stand colonial oppression and rule anymore, a few men and women, mostly Kikuyu got together and said the white man must go.
The white man was not ready to leave, however, so he responded with even more brutal force and abuse of those in rebelling, officially crushing the Mau Mau movement in 1956.
Although tens of thousands of mostly Kikuyu fighters, including Dedan Kimathi lost their lives and others like Jomo Kenyatta languished in jail for years for playing key roles in the Mau Mau movement, the idea of freedom from oppression and abuse had caught fire in Kenya and in time, the white man was forced to give up and grant us our freedom.
This was our First Liberation.
If Kenyans thought they had freed themselves from the yoke of colonialism and had arrived in Canaan with the swearing in of Jomo Kenyatta as our first President at independence in 1963, they soon would find out they had merely switched from oppression by the white man to oppression and abuse by their fellow Kenyan.
Among the first casualties of Kenyatta’s oppressive regime was none other than Jaramogi Oginga Odinga who refused to form a government as offered by the British on grounds he could not do so until and unless Kenyatta and other political prisoners were released.
Kenyatta rewarded Jaramogi Oginga Odinga for his act of kindness and consideration by making sure he reduced Jaramogi to political irrelevance.
He would later during the famous Kisumu incident publicly declare that he spared throwing Jaramogi in jail or worse because he was his “friend.”
What a friend, indeed.
Oddly, though, even as Kenyatta was exercising enormous power over the entire nation, cowering everyone and suppressing all human rights in a markedly oppressive manner, the country was actually doing good economically with the fastest economic growth occurring in the period between 1969 and 1974.
Not all Kenyans were benefitting from economic activity, however.
The gap between the rich and poor was increasingly getting larger, thanks to increased corruption and concentration of wealth among mostly those around Kenyatta or within a sniffing range.
When compassionate politicians demanded that Kenyatta account for the disparity in prosperity in the country or at least take measures to reduce corruption, they were either intimidated to silence or simply had their lives snuffed like was the case in JM Kariuki’s assassination on March 2, 1975.
By the time Kenyatta passed on in August 1978, Kenyans had basically resigned to being oppressed and accepted status quo.
Then came one Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi, our second president.
To say Kenyatta’s regime was oppressive, corrupt to the core, unresponsive to the people’s needs, greedy in land-grabbing and undeterred in the commission of other economic and political injustices would be leaving nothing to say about the Moi regime other than to say it was 10 times worse.
To be sure, Moi did not start out as president anywhere near where he ended; in fact, in his very first speech as president, Moi said all the right things, including explaining his Nyayo philosophy as being informed by his desire to have a one nation united in love and peace.
Instead, there was misery and more misery among virtually all Kenyans.
So much so two months after Moi with a hapless Parliament amended the constitution to officially make Kenya a one party state, military officers working with some in the opposition attempted to overthrow the Moi regime but failed thanks in part to their inexperience.
However, as in the case of the Mau Mau movement that started the quest for independence, the 1982 coup attempt reignited people’s passions and quest for freedom once again and thus the birth of the Second Liberation.
So determined was the country in ridding us of Moi, led by the group Charles Mugane Njonjo deemed fit to call the “Seven Bearded Sisters,” when Moi attempted to shove down our throats his pet project Uhuru Kenyatta in 2002, the country soundly rejected the move and instead overwhelmingly elected Emilio Mwai Kibaki as our third president, who was earlier toshad and his presidency made possible by one Raila Amolo Odinga.
While the Kibaki regime has not been as oppressive as the two before it, it has either been equal or worse in all other respects.
In theory, we have a coalition government but in practice, it’s really a Kibaki regime we are talking about because Kibaki and his half of the coalition government controls all the key portfolios that determine how the government functions.
Even though as Prime Minister Raila is charged with the responsibility to supervise and coordinate all ministries, in reality he is as powerless as you and I to stop a number of unhelpful and even disastrous things happening in government.
That’s the card he was dealt with at the formation of the coalition government but, even with those impediments and obstacles along the way, the PM has managed to do a very good job in bringing about the progress and development he has.
Where the PM has put down his foot, he has prevented Kibaki from acting illegally and unconstitutionally as was the case in the aborted efforts to appoint Kibaki’s cronies to important constitutional office in violation of the law.
Where the Raila and Kibaki have worked together as required under the Coalition Agreement, they have produced extremely desirable results for the benefit of all such as in passing the constitution, the appointment of the Judicial Service Commission and our Chief Justice.
All this points to two things:
First, when Raila and Kibaki work together and put the interests of the country first, not their respective political or personal interests, we all gain.
Second, and more importantly, as the First and Second Liberation movements clearly show, when united, Kenyans can effect fundamental change respecting how we are governed as was the case in the First Liberation and the now ongoing Second Liberation.
In order for the Second Liberation—and hopefully the last one—to come to total fruition, we must once again come together as we approach the next elections and soberly and peacefully decide who is best suited and qualified to lead us in finally breaking with the past for good and heading to a future of nothing but peace and prosperity for all.
To do so successfully, we must as was the case in the First and advent of the Second Liberation think of ourselves first as Kenyans and not as the tribes or ethnic groups we belong to.
We have proven over and over that we are quite capable of doing just that and the only thing stopping us is us or more specifically, the backwardness in some of us who refuse to let go of tribalism and negative ethnicity.
So, let’s just do it and we shall be glad we did.