- There were many dare-devils who tried to stop the Moi regime — but most of them had no clout and no money.
It is only after you mention Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba that you start to get the inside story of the Nyayo regime.
There were many daredevils who tried to stop the Moi regime — but most of them had no clout and no money. The entry of millionaire Kenneth Matiba changed the matrix.
As the first ever Cabinet minister to resign in Kenya, Mr Matiba soon became the symbol of defiance of Kanu’s brutal years and, until he died, he carried the weight of the prison brutality while all that he had built came to nought.
Moi’s regime not only wrecked his health, but his business empire and, by the time he died, aged 86, he had disappeared from the limelight, having lost to auctioneers all the hotels and schools he had built in his youthful days.
While the High Court had ordered that Matiba get a compensation of Sh978 million for damages and violations he suffered and for expenses he incurred for his medication, Matiba died before he could get fully compensated, and the matter is still pending in court.
After entering politics, and he said as much, Matiba was always afraid that he would become the victim of rigging, and in 1988, he complained rather loudly about rigging in the Kanu elections, which was the default setting of the ruling party then.
It was this 1988 rigging in Kanu that saw him fall out with Moi and on December 9, 1989 when Moi was about to receive guests for the 10th anniversary of Nyayo era, Matiba drafted a resignation letter and had it dropped at the Office of the President. Moi was incensed.
After that, security agents followed him everywhere and he was constantly interrogated.
“I had kept a low profile and refused to engage in politics, yet I was being harassed,” Matiba said on why he joined the call for multiparty politics.
It was this call for pluralism that saw him end up in detention, where he suffered a stroke on May 26, 1991.
Although he would return to run for the presidency, coming second to Moi, Mr Matiba achieved little success as an opposition leader as illness took a toll on him.