Black white operations of the Kanyotu era

Story by KAMAU NGOTHO

Under Mr James Kanyotu, the State security intelligence apparatus largely operated through intrusion, torture and mysterious murders.

In the minds of ordinary citizens, the mention of what was popularly known as the Special Branch brought up images of shifty-eyed characters in smoky cellars extracting information by duress when not peeping through keyholes or staging mafia-style killings.

Barely two months after Kanyotu was appointed the Director of Intelligence in February 1965, a radical politician of Asian origin, Pio Gama Pinto, was gunned down outside his house in the city’s Westlands suburb.

Point-blank.

He was reversing outside his gate one early morning when a lone gunman appeared from nowhere and shot him at point-blank range.

Four years later, an assassin’s bullet cut short the life of Tom Mboya — a dashing politician and Cabinet minister.

He was walking out of a chemist in a crowded city street on Saturday afternoon, July 5, 1969 when he met his death.

Then in March 1975, a herdsman stumbled on a decomposing body at the foot of the scenic Ngong Hills on the outskirts of Nairobi.

It turned out to be the body of the charismatic MP for Nyandarua North, Josiah Mwangi Kariuki, popularly known as ‘JM’, who had been reported missing nine days earlier after he left a Nairobi hotel in the company of the then GSU commandant Ben Gethi.

Fifteen years down the line in February 1990, another body — this time burnt almost beyond recognition — was found by a herdsboy at the foot of Got Alila near Kisumu.

It was that of then Foreign Affairs minister Robert Ouko. He had gone missing for four days after being picked by a white car from his rural home in the wee hours of the morning.

‘Disappeared’

And in the period between 1986 and 1989, several Kenyans were reported to have “disappeared” after they were arrested by the Special Branch and taken to the infamous Nyayo House torture chambers for interrogation in connection with a shadowy outfit called Mwakenya.

Inevitably, in all the “black operations”, fingers were pointed at the institution Mr Kanyotu headed.

In two of the cases — the Ouko and JM murders — he was personally summoned to assist the investigating teams.

He ignored the summons in the case of Ouko, but helpfully cooperated in the JM matter.

In the Mboya and Pinto assassinations, there was no direct mention of the intelligence team or Mr Kanyotu, for that matter.

However, there were powerful pointers that his boys loomed large in the shadows.

In the Mwakenya affair, blood was all over Mr Kanyotu’s hands as the interrogations were conducted by his officers at Nyayo House, the then Nairobi Area Intelligence offices.

Mr Kanyotu’s baptism by fire came on February 25, 1965, hardly two months after he assumed office.

It came with the murder of leftist politician Pio Gama Pinto, a close ally and strategist for then Vice-President and later opposition doyen Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

A self-confessed socialist, Mr Pinto had sharpened his teeth as a radical during Kenya’s fight for independence when he served as the editor of a string of nationalist newspapers and a radio station.

For his troubles, the colonialists detained him without trial for a long period.

Come independence, he identified himself with a radical camp opposed to policies pursued by the Government of the day. The group gravitated around Mr Oginga Odinga. Then somebody decided that he must die.

Early in the morning of February 25, Mr Pinto reversed his car at the gate to his residence in the city’s Westlands suburb. With him was his five-year-old daughter, who he was taking to school.

Before he could engage the forward gear, a man appeared from the corner of the fence and shouted: “Hallo, Sir!”

As he looked up to answer, three bullets hit him in the neck and chest. He slumped dead on the steering wheel.

Three weeks later, a 19-year-old unemployed youth, Kisilu Mutua, was hauled to the courts and accused of killing Mr Pinto. He denied the charge, but admitted having been within the vicinity when the radical politician was shot dead.

Kisilu’s evidence at the trial court had all the elements of a James Bond thriller.

He said he had been a pick-pocket operating at downtown Nairobi.

Police had caught and pardoned him once, but on the second instance, they offered to help him quit the world of crime by getting him a job with a man they simply called Sammy.

Sammy turned up with an interesting kind of job. He would only need him once in a while and for a specific assignment, which would change from time to time.

He helped Kisilu start a business of selling tyre rubber sandals, popularly known as akala, at Ngara Market, from where he would pick him whenever there was a job to be done.

Scare off

Kisilu’s first assignment was to scare off a certain trade-unionist who Sammy said was “joking around with the Government.”

He would drive Kisilu to the unionist’s gate in the evening and wait for the latter to arrive.

Once he showed up, Kisilu would run towards him a knife in hand, hurl a few insults at him and tell him to watch his tongue in future lest the knife ends in his chest.

The first assignment had gone off well and Sammy handsomely rewarded him, Kisilu told the court.

The next assignment would be in Westlands. He was to do the same to a certain muhindi (Indian) who too, as Sammy put it, was giving the Government some trouble.

As with the first assignment, Sammy did not tell him the name of the person and he did not bother to ask as he thought that was none of his business.

On the fateful day, Mr Kisilu told the court, he met Sammy in the company of another man he introduced as Mr Chege Thuo.

The three then got into a taxi, a blue Fiat car, and headed to the gate of their target in Westlands.

Before Kisilu could make his move as instructed, he heard a sudden burst of gun-fire and saw the Indian slump forward as blood gushed from his neck.

A few days later, Sammy got in touch with him and they agreed to meet at a secret rendezvous.

It turned out to be a trap when Kisilu found waiting policemen and Sammy nowhere in sight.

The court found Kisilu guilty and sentenced him to hang. He escaped death for life imprisonment upon appeal.

Doubtful

The court was doubtful that Kisilu was the man who pulled the trigger, but said he must be taken as an accomplice having knowingly gone to Westlands to “scare” his target, whatever the scare entailed.

However, the appeal judge, Chief Justice John Ainley, punched enough holes in the prosecution case to suggest Kisilu may just have been a scapegoat.

“The case for the Republic is that three men were present and that three men ran away from the scene of Mr Pinto’s murder,” said the Appeal judge.

“Yet it has been asked, why has the police not demonstrated the truth of their findings through further investigations?”

Kisilu was set free in 2001 after serving 35 years in jail. He still insists he was punished for a crime he never committed.

 

Courtesy of http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=39& newsid=124092

we need to complicate the dominant discourse on martin luther king……

3 years after the watts rebellion, en exactly 1 year after MLK gave his well known speech at the Riverside church in New York, he was assassinated……..

empathetically we might ask ourselves why the dream speech has overshadowed in popular discourse, all the more complex analyses he attempted to present en for example, in the riverside speech…….

he said…my experience in the ghettoes of the north over the last 3 years, especially over the last 3 summers, as I have walked among the desperate, rejected en angry young men, I have told them that Moltov cocktails en rifles would not solve their problems, I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion, while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through non-violent action,

but they asked, en rightfully so, what about vietnam?

they asked if our nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence, to solve it’s problems, to bring (home) to bring about the changes it wanted…

their questions hit home en I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettoes without first having spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,
my own government.

for the sake of these boys,
for the sake of this government,
for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence,
I cannot be silent…

en so this was the King we were mourning, en we knew that he was considered a menace to the government, although now ofcourse he is the perhaps the most important figure in the pantheon of U.S Democracy, and as we know is praised by Progressives and Conservatives alike….

and so we decided to declare a day of mourning in Los Angeles, on April 5th….
en we had the audacity to declare a day of mourning for the entire city, en we took ourselves seriously….

without fanie lou hamer, barack obama is inconceivable, en I rarely hear that historical memory evoked in connection with what is seen as an uprecedented presidential election campaign…

but fanie lou hamer was not so much an exceptional individual, as she was a womyn who was willing to take the risk of becoming an agent en envoy of her people, en she was organically connected to all of those people who constituted the  freedom movement, many of whom ofcourse she did not know….

….need to think about what it means to build community, en how community nourishes the individual, perhaps more than the individual nourishes the community, certain insights, certain imaginations, certain aspirations en dreams elude individuals, but arise out of the ties that bind people to each other, the ties and relations that create community.

en so I like to use the term communities of struggle, or,  communities of resistance, not so much to refer to a group of individuals who bring their own individual capacities together to create a collective, I’d like to use these terms to point to something that is qualitatively different from the individual, a collective capacity that is so much more than the sum of individual capacities.

these communities of struggle produce collective subjects, the sense of community includes those whom we do not personally know, those who do not necessarily inhabit our physical communities, those who don’t necessarily live in the U.S, those who are barred from citizenship, undocumented immigrants for example…..aboriginal people, who still suffer….our community should embrace all of these peoples….

(see also the case of Ayiti, Cuba, DRC en Iraq….)

the only sad part is that coca-cola has it’s branding all ova dis……

RBG mwisho!

it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot………that’s what I’d like you to think about, Wyclef…..

ofcourse we’ve got to help those 7,000 people…is(n’t) that the problem?

b is for baganda (oral) stories

 

TGIF!

Police in Mtwapa, just north of the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa, say they have arrested five men whom they accuse of being homosexuals.

District officer George Matandura said two of the men had been found with wedding rings, attempting to get married, in Kikambala beach resort.

The other three men were handed to the police by members of the public; two of them had reportedly been beaten.

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya but arrests are extremely rare.

Crowds gathered outside the police station where the men were taken in protest at the presence of alleged homosexuals.

The wedding was reportedly due to take place at a private villa in the resort, but locals heard of the plans and alerted the police, who raided a house and arrested the men.

‘Repugnant’ behaviour

“We are grateful to the public for alerting the police. They should continue co-operating with the police to arrest more,” Mr Matundura said.

“It is an offence, an unnatural offence, and also their behaviour is repugnant to the morality of the people.”

“We shall use all means to curb this vice”  – Sheikh Ali Hussein, Council of Imams and Preachers

The district officer said the five, aged between 20 and 35, would “undergo a medical examination before we charge them with homosexuality,” the AFP news agency reported.

“We will move swiftly and close down bars which condone gays, lesbians, prostitution and drug abuse in their premises,” Mr Matundura added.

A member of a Kenyan gay rights organisation condemned the arrests and said it had appealed to the Human Rights Commission to step in.

But the marriage allegedly planned was condemned by Muslim and Christian clerics.

“We cannot allow these young boys to ruin their future through homosexuality,” Sheikh Ali Hussein of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya told AFP.

“We shall use all means to curb this vice.”

Bishop Lawrence Chai, of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, said: “This is immoral and we shall not allow it, especially here in Mtwapa.”

The five men are due to appear in court soon.

Media coverage

On Thursday, two other men abandoned their plans to get married at a seaside villa in the same area after local authorities complained.

The couple and their guests fled the coastal city when word spread that the police, government officers and members of the public were looking for them.

Apart from in South Africa, homosexual behaviour is illegal across Africa.

Four months ago a Kenyan gay couple married in London – an event which received wide media coverage inside Kenya.