The demise of Lawrence Sifuna, former MP for Bungoma South and Bumula constituencies, marks yet another loss among the celebrated ‘Seven Bearded Sisters’ of early opposition politics.
Sifuna died in Eldoret after suffering a stroke a few days ago, as confirmed by his nephew, Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna.
The term ‘Seven Bearded Sisters’ refers to a group of left-wing MPs in the early 1980s, known for their persistent opposition to the government’s policies soon after President Daniel Moi took over the reins of power.
They comprised Abuya Abuya of then Kitutu East, Onyango Midika of Nyando (now Muhoroni), Mwashengu wa Machofi (Wundanyi), James Orengo, Koigi wa Wamwere and Chibule wa Tsuma. They criticised the administration for what they termed as policies that are detrimental to the rights of Kenyans.
Their outspokenness and courageous dissent against the government’s close ties with Western powers laid the groundwork for Kenya’s multi-party democracy struggle, eventually leading to constitutional changes in the early ‘90s.
The term 'Seven bearded sisters' was coined by Constitutional Affairs minister and former long-serving Attorney General, Charles Njonjo, in 1981.
He drew the name from the book 'The Seven Sisters: The Great Oil Companies and the World They Shaped' by Anthony Sampson, published in 1975.
The book detailed how seven major oil companies conspired to influence global politics and governments. Njonjo used the term ‘bearded’ to associate the opposition MPs with the book’s conspiratorial theme.
The MPs were known for their vocal opposition to Kanu’s policies, particularly its close ties with Western powers, and they played an important role in Kenya’s pursuit of multi-party democracy.
The legacy of the group marks a crucial juncture in Kenya’s history, consolidating parliamentary opposition into a formidable force that questioned government actions.
Their impact reverberates in the fight for democratic freedom and the eventual transformation of Kenya’s political landscape.
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