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Vote 'Yes' in respect of reform heroes

By | July 8th 2010

By Mutinda Mwanzia

The 20th anniversary of the Saba Saba Day was marked with calls to Kenyans to vote for the Proposed Constitution on August 4.

Politicians and clergymen who were part of the reform agenda in the 1980s and 1990s used the occasion to drum up support for the document, saying it would usher a new political and economic dawn.

The July 7, 1990, protests heightened campaigns for multi-party politics, which bore fruits, leading to the 1992 General Election.

Yesterday, Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o, Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara, former Kikuyu MP Paul Muite, Retired Anglican Arch-Bishop David Gitari, Reverend Timothy Njoya and the Bishop of Nairobi ACK Diocese Peter Njoka graced the colourful ceremony at the ACK St Stephens Cathedral.

Prof Nyong’o said enactment of the new laws would ensure Kenyans live in dignity, wealth and liberty.

"That is why we should ensure the efforts of gallant Kenyans who fought hard for the second liberation were not in vain. August 4 should be a turning point in our history," he said.

The minister said the Proposed Constitution had many gains, adding the 2007 election debacle and violence would be a thing of the past under the new constitutional order.

Bishop Gitari relived his days at the helm of the Anglican Church, saying he never wavered in the pursuit for truth and justice. "I stood up against the Kanu regime and preached against its ills. My boldness helped usher the wind of change in the country," said Gitari.

The retired prelate said the Proposed Constitution was a good attempt to offer a liberating document and urged Kenyans to vote for it.

He slammed religious leaders opposed to the new laws, saying they should leave Kenyans to read and make independent decisions.

Security threat

Mr Imanyara recounted how together with Kenneth Matiba, Charles Rubia, John Khaminwa and Mohammed Ibrahim they were detained for being a "security threat".

"I am happy today to be in the company of heroes like Muite, Njoya, Gitari and others who fought fearlessly for the freedoms we are enjoying today," said Imanyara.

Rev Njoya, who was described by most speakers as a stalwart of the second liberation, moved those present with his narration of how he nearly lost his life fighting for the rights of Kenyans.

"I preached against oppressive regimes and in two occasions was defrocked for preaching against single party dictatorship. I was, however, not cowed," he said.

"It is shocking that the clergy are joining in rallies and prayers with persons whose reform and leadership records are tainted. It is a sad moment for the Church," Njoya added.

He challenged Christians to boycott churches whose leaders have become "puppets" of corrupt individuals, adding their attempts to derail enactment of new laws would be fail.

Mr Muite said the new laws would dismantle the imperial presidency, which he blamed for the many woes facing the country.

He said those who fought for the second liberation would always have a dear spot in the hearts of many Kenyans, adding the blood shed and lives lost will never be in vain.

Bishop Njoka also recounted how police officers stormed the All Saints Cathedral and clobbered leaders and the public in 1997, saying the intolerance of the State led to increased pressure for reforms.

"I saw police maim people inside the cathedral and my resolve to continue fighting for reforms was made stronger," said the bishop.

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