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Heroes who contributed to Kenya's rebirth

By | August 29th 2010

By Oscar Obonyo

The historic event at Uhuru Park might have been momentous, but to some who have walked the reform path for decades it was a sentimental affair.

Some like veteran politician Martin Shikuku, who participated in the formulation of the old Constitution at Lancaster in United Kingdom, could not restrain themselves from dropping a tear.

Another Lancaster veteran Denis Akumu, former Nyakach MP, and a continental trade unionist, watched the events with nostalgia, as he lay in his sickbed. How he wished he were at the Uhuru Park on Friday, to relive a second historic moment.

Many more who participated in their small way equally showed up at the historic venue. It has been a torturous journey, with some losing their lives or getting maimed.

The list of the key participants, which spans over three decades, is indeed long. But below, in no particular order, are some of the players:

Then an environmental activist, she staged a sustained campaign for a new order, including leading women into pushing for the release of political prisoners. Law enforcement officers clobbered her on many occasions.

Now a respected Nobel Laureate  

Daniel Arap Moi

Then President of Kenya, Moi shocked many, including some of his own diehard supporters when he declared in December 1991, the repeal of Section 2a of the Constitution to allow for multiparty politics. In 1997, Moi again gave in to minimum electoral reforms, though a deal among MPs.

Now in retirement and although he campaigned against the new Constitution, he maintains he was opposed to sections of it.

Alexander Kipsang Muge

Then head of Anglican Church, Gitari spearheaded the reform struggle to fill the vacuum left by political opposition, most who had either been detained or forced into exile.

Now retired but actively involved in reform efforts

Jean Marie Seroney

Then a deputy Speaker in Parliament, Seroney was a champion of democracy. The former Tinderet MP stood up and steadfastly fought against single party dictatorship inside and outside Parliament. He was detained in 1975 for supporting Shikuku’s claims ‘Kanu is dead’. Now deceased. 

Martha Karua

Then a lawyer, Karua upped her game when she joined Parliament in 1992 as Gichugu MP. Ever since, she pushed for reforms consistently and as Justice Minister in 2008, she rolled out a watertight plan for smooth delivery of the new Constitution.

The Narc-Kenya party leader was at Uhuru Park on Friday.

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