12th December 1963 at exactly midnight, the Union Jack came down and the flag of the newly independent Kenya went up at Uhuru Gardens. On the dais, was Prince Philip representing the British and Kenya’s first Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta. In the crowds were jubilant and hopeful faces. These faces cut across the whole fabric that was the Kenyan people. There were the native Africans, the Asians whose forefathers had come to Kenya to build the Lunatic Express (Kenya-Uganda Railway) and the Whites who wanted to settle here permanently. After years of the struggle for independence, through both armed struggle and political agitation, Kenya was free.
Pio Gama Pinto was a Kenyan of Goan origin, part of Kenya’s independence “fighters” and a member for Parklands in the first Parliament. An assassin’s bullet in front of his young daughter cut short his career as one of the politicians in Kenya.
His death was followed by that of the most flamboyant and “most progressive” Kenyan politician, Tom Mboya. His death was later remarked to be the start of the intense rivalry between the Kikuyus and the Luos in Kenya. His contribution to the young nation is unmatched since he organised for further education for the people who would later takeover from the departing colonial civil servants.
An attempted coup fails to take off. President Kenyatta starts jailing dissidents and among them is Kenya’s first Vice-President, Oginga Odinga.
J.M. Kariuki was the next person whose life was cut short by the gun. His famous saying was “Kenya has become a nation of 10 millionaires and 10 million beggars” even though he himself was a millionaire. He was strongly pushing for the compensation of the Mau Mau fighters who had been promised land once the country was liberated.
The death of Kenya’s founding father, President Kenyatta. Vice-President Moi takes over as the president even after a protracted struggle by the Change The Constitution group. Shortly afterwards, the constitution was changed to make Kenya officially into a one-party state.
First coup under the Moi regime. This is followed by a long period during which detentions and the suppression of artistic freedom are abound. Exiles of noted academics, writers, journalists and artists become commonplace.
The clamour for multi-party democracy is in the air. For about five years, this goes on until Kenya is finally let to hold multi-party elections that are won by Moi again. Some cases of tribal violence are reported in the Rift valley.
Fake diamond and gold imports leading to the loss of money that has run into the billions of Kenya shillings. Because of this, the very first of the commissions whose work is never revealed to Kenyans is revealed.
The August 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi’s CBD leading to the loss of more than 200 lives. Puts Kenya right in the heart of the war for terrorism.
The very successful elections of 2002 that ended KANU’s 39 year reign on the presidency. Ushers in the second phase of the second liberation. This is later to be broken during the 2007 elections that saw the all too familiar of Presidents refusing to leave office and also the deaths of many people.
The successful referendum of 2010 that saw a new constitution that brought Kenya into the third liberation.
15th December 2010, three days after Kenya celebrated the 47th Independence Day, Moreno Ocampo read out the names of the people who are accused of fanning or bringing about the violence in 2008. Will this moment usher Kenya into adulthood?