Kenya: Saba Saba Movement Marks 30th Anniversary With March, Convention

Thirty years ago on July 7, an event took place that changed the country's political landscape forever: the formation of the Saba Saba movement.

The movement was critical in pushing President Daniel arap Moi to repeal Section 2A of the Constitution and paving the way for the reintroduction of multi-party democracy.

Various actors will be celebrating the historical day through events lined up across the country on the 30th anniversary.

Njeru Kathangu, who was among the five original Saba Saba coordinators, will lead a group of leaders to an event at the home of Prof Ngotho wa Kariuki, who has been sick.

Other than Mr Kathangu and Ngotho wa Kariuki, the other original Saba Saba coordinators were Prof Edward Oyugi, the late Kariuki Gathitu and the late George Anyona Moseti.

SPECIAL CONVENTION

Some of the Young Turks, as the group that fought for the reintroduction of multi-party democracy, and a consortium of civil society actors will meet at the historical Jumuia Conference Centre in Limuru for a People's Popular Initiative Convention.

Keynote speakers will include Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, Narc Kenya Party leader Martha Karua and renowned economist David Ndii.

Religious leaders and human rights defenders, among them Ndung'u Wainaina, Regina Opondo, Nduko O'Matigere, Daisy Amdany, Ndungi Githuku, Darius Okolla, Jerotich Seii, Ikal Angelei, Wandia Njoya, Father Joseph Mutie, Nerima Wako and Reverend Evans Omollo, will also attend the event.

According to organisers, this year's celebrations are themed "Tekeleza Katiba, Boresha Maisha". The event is aimed at creating a solid citizens' base for defending the Constitution and taking over political leadership.

The celebrations aim to take stock of constitutional reforms, political mobiliSation and citizen activism, amplifying strategies for mobilising citizen action for the capture of political leadership and bolstering people's energy in reclaiming their power, voice and agency.

Another group of civil society groups will hold a people's march along Harambee Avenue.

THE HISTORY

The movement got its name from the date -- July 7 ,1990 -- when its leading lights were to hold a rally at Kamukunji grounds in Nairobi, only for police officers to disperse opposition supporters violently. Many of them were later on arrested and detained.

Four days before the rally, former minister Kennedy Matiba, former Nairobi Mayor Charles Rubia, Raila Odinga and other leaders associated with the opposition were arrested and detained.

The hot blooded "Young Turks" got the blessings of senior politicians such Ahmed Salim Bamahriz, George Nthenge, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Masinde Muliro, Phillip Gachoka, Martin Shikuku and several others to the chagrin of Moi and Kanu.

A number of them were in prison when the Constitution was amended in December 1991, thus paving the way for the 1992 multi-party elections in which a deeply fractured opposition lost to Moi.

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