How The Standard reported the August 1982 Coup attempt


On August 1, 1982 Niarobians woke up to bursts of machinegun fire and booms of heavy artillery.

A coup was underway. Kenya was going the Ugandan, Ethiopian and Nigerian way where the military had overthrown civilian regimes and strongmen were now firmly ensconced in power with little or no time for democracy and other civilian niceties.

 Below, in pictures, is how the paper covered the coup and its aftermath.

It would be a long, eight bloody hours before the putsch by a section of the Kenya Airforce was defeated a by a combined force of the Kenya Army, GSU, the other section of the Air Force and the police commanded by  Deputy Army Commander  Maj-Gen Mohamoud Mohamed. Maj-Gen Mohamed would later succeed Gen Jackson Mulinge as the Chief of General Staff.

Depending on your view, the coup leader Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka, who had styled himself as the “Chairman of the Redemption Council” would have the dubious distinction of being Kenya’s shortest lived president. Senior Private is one of the lowest ranks in the military while a Private is a soldier of the lowest military rank in modern military writing

By midday the coup was crumbling after Ochuka and fellow soldier Pancras Okumu commandeered an air force Buffalo and forced Maj Nick ole Leshani to fly them to Tanzania where they sought political asylum. But their luck was short-lived.

 In the spirit of good neighbourliness, Tanzania would hand them back to Kenya where they were court-martialed, found guilty of treason and sentenced to hang by the neck until pronounced dead which is what happened.

With bullets swooshing in the air, few journalists made their way to newsrooms but attempting to cover the fighting was plainly suicidal. That being the case, there was no Standard on the streets on August 2.

Issue number 21212 appeared two days later on August 3 screaming REBELS FLEE TO TANZANIA.  For Sh2, which was the cover price, no sooner were the newspapers unwrapped than they disappeared from the streets. It was the biggest story of the decade.