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Jul 31, 2018 30 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
1/30 #HistoryKeThread: Raila Odinga accompanied by his late son Fidel on a tour of the Nyayo House torture chambers in 2002.
2/30 The torture chambers gained notoriety in the 1980s, when one of the most atrocious crackdowns on dissidents in Kenya by the country’s dreaded Special Branch took place.
3/30 It was the year when the then KANU regime rounded up individuals alleged to belong to the proscribed Mwakenya, an underground movement created to fight for pluralism in Kenya.
4/30 Those accused of being members of Mwakenya included Oduor Ong’wen, Maina Wa Kinyatti, Kiongo Maina, Wanyiri Kihoro, Mwandawiro Mghanga, Prof. Edward Oyugi, Njeru Kathangu, Lumumba Odemba, Whispers aka Wahome Mutahi, Prof. Katama Mkangi and Maurice Adongo.
5/30 Others like Muhoro Githirwa and Kaara Macharia escaped to Tanzania for their safety in October of 1986.
6/30 Those arrested were held at various police stations before being transferred to the infamous Nyayo House torture chambers, where they underwent grilling under inhumane conditions.
7/30 Professor Edward Oyugi recalled how for several weeks he was locked up at Mûthangari Police Station, driven around the city at night blindfolded, before being incarcerated in waterlogged basement cells at Nyayo House.
8/30 Whilst there, he met the dreaded Superintendent James Opiyo, the Kenya Police’s Torturer-in-Chief, the frail-looking bespectacled man seen here in a recent photo.
9/30 In a book, “We Lived To Tell”, Prof. Oyugi (pictured, then and now) recalls the encounter:
10/30 “Early one morning Opiyo paid me a visit to confirm whether I was still in water. Opiyo was still in his pyjamas and slippers. I got so annoyed and asked him, ‘Have you come all the way from Langata to enjoy my suffering instead of being in bed enjoying...
11/30 ...the warmth of your wife?’”
12/30 Opiyo was so stung and infuriated by my apparent insolence that he picked one of his slippers and threw it at me, Prof. Oyugi narrated
13/30 There were tough female police officers, too. And Oyugi recalled two “women torturers” who threatened to circumcise him.
14/30 Spouses of alleged Mwakenya movement members were also not spared. Emma Wayula, a Secretary in the the Ministry of Education, was one of them.
15/30 "From 10th December 1990 to 18th February 1991, they shunted me from Bungoma, Eldoret forest,Kakamega, Webuye Falls and back to Bungoma. In between, they beat me using a whip, pierced my fingers with a needle and forced me to do all sorts of exercises...
16/30 ...including press-ups while demanding information on guns and underground movements....”, Emma recalled her ordeal.
17/30 “In June 1991, I was finally released but I have yet to recover my health and social status”, she told officials of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, who published the afore-mentioned book.
18/30 On some occasions, suspects at the Nyayo House torture chambers, like one Peter Njenga Karanja, succumbed to their injuries.
19/30 He was arrested from his restaurant in Nakuru on allegations of being a member of Mwakenya.
20/30 He died in February of 1987, a victim of internal bleeding and open wounds inflicted upon him following weeks of brutal torture at Nyayo House.
21/30 The outcry from international agencies and the public forced the Moi regime to accede to demands for an inquest into his death.
22/30 Dr. Peter Carberry, who examined Karanja, described his condition as “malnourished, restless and uneasy” when four Special Branch officers brought the deceased to him in a wheelchair.
23/30 Said he:
24/30 “The ulcers on his body were bad, open and quite visible to the naked eye. The skin was badly shattered. The whole thing (wound) looked like a crater, a deep tissue with pus emanating from it."
25/30 In his ruling, the Chief Magistrate, Mr.Joseph Mango, said “Karanja died like a caged animal as police stood guard over him throughout his dying moments.”
26/30 The magistrate ruled that there was no doubt that “some offence had been committed”. But no one was charged for the offence as the officer in charge of the Mwakenya interrogation, Supt. James Opiyo, refused to give identity of the officers, claiming that
27/30 doing so would compromise state security.
28/30 Although I have cited a few cases of torture and incarceration, there exists in history far more similar cases of Mwakenya suspects suffering inhuman police treatment.
29/30 For more reading on the Mwakenya crackdown, I recommend Maina Wa Kinyatti’s book, “Mwakenya - the Unfinished Revolution”.
30/30 Some of the photos used here are courtesy of the Standard Media Group.

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More from @HistoryKE

Oct 3, 2018
#RIPJosephKamaru: The curtain falls on the life of legendary Gîkûyû benga musician Joseph Kamaru, following a long illness.
This is the man whose debut 1969 hit track, Darling ya Mwarîmû (teacher’s darling), caused a storm in parliament and in the national teachers’ union, who threatened to go on strike.

It took Mzee Kenyatta’s intercession to put the storm to rest.
He composed hundreds of gîkûyû songs throughout his lifetime. In 1989, he released the track Safari ya Japan shortly after his return from the Asian country, where he had accompanied Kamaru retired President Moi on a state visit.
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Oct 2, 2018
#HistoryKeThread: Seen here conferring with then President Moi, Mr. Burudi Nabwera is a former diplomat, MP, Asst. Minister and later not only Secretary General of KANU in its heydays, but also a Minister for State.
Last year, the alumnus of Makerere University released his biography, ‘How It Happened’, a book that should be a good read for anyone interested in the politics of Kenya during the single-party era.
On 7th of October 1990, Mr. Nabwera caused a stir when he announced that the government would not prosecute anyone for the murder of former minister Robert Ouko. The report by Scotland Yard’s detective John Troon, Nabwera argued, had not named any killers.
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Sep 25, 2018
#HistoryKeThread An American’s Observation Of Life Among The Agîkûyû

Published in San Francisco, United States, Western Field was an American west coast monthly sports hunter magazine.

The magazine featured stories about the hunting exploits of various American hunters both at home and overseas.
One such adventurer was Elmer Davies, who spent some time among the Wakamba, Wataveta and the Agîkûyû in the period until sometime in early 1904.
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Sep 21, 2018
#HistoryKeThread: The Wadavida (Taita) Of Yore

In 1890, author Thomas Stevens authored the book, Scouting for Stanley.
The book is an account of the time Thomas spent in East Africa, where he had been sent to join in the search for legendary explorer Henry Morton Stanley.
In April of 1898, he camped at Ndara Hill among the Wataita. Here, a Rev. Wray of the Church Mission Society strived to teach the Wataita with much difficulty about the gospel of Christ. Perhaps this difficulty is what led Rev. Wray to dabble in farming.
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Sep 17, 2018
#HistoryKeThread: When Colonial Officials Adopted Locals As Mistresses

Hell hath no fury like a randy colonial officer stationed miles away from conjugal comfort.
In the early colonial years, the Governors' subordinates were initially men taken over from Imperial British EA Company (IBEAC). Later on, a professional class of colonial civil servants was recruited to take up the many administrative positions opening up in the colony.
Many of the officers had hardly gone beyond the age of 30.

As such, they invariably found themselves sexually starved and lonely. That is, if they didn't have African mistresses.
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Sep 3, 2018

Krapf’s Tough Crusade

In July, 1846, pioneering missionary Ludwig Krapf struggled to attend to his ailing, bed-ridden wife.

Krapf had suffered a debilitating fever and so had his wife, Mrs. Dietrich Krapf, who was in a worse state....
She had days earlier given birth to a baby girl at their budding Rabai mission.

Hours to her death, she asked Krapf to bury her right there at Rabai, saying she needed her remains to "constantly remind the passersby of the great object which...
...had brought the servants of the church of Christ to their country...."

Krapf would much later write that his wife "wished to be preaching to them by the lonely spot which encloses her earthly remains."
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