How Bitter Wife Exposed Husband's Plan to Overthrow Kenyan President

  • A file image of State House Nairobi
    A file image of State House Nairobi
  • Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned - this is a common phrase that has been in use since the 17th century when English playwright and poet William Congreve penned it in his classic work - The mourning bride

    The quote has often been wrongly attributed to William Shakespear but its contents have for long been universally agreed upon. 

    Indeed, a new feature of Kenya's liberation struggle has revealed yet another example that saw a spiteful wife change the turn of Kenyan history after reporting her husband to President Daniel Arap Moi over a little-told movement that wanted to overturn the Nyayo regime in the 1980s, 

    In the mid-1980s - a group of progressive academic students, lecturers and other intellectuals started the Mwakenya Movement that sought to liberate Kenya from the dictatorial Nyayo regime.

    Former President Daniel Moi holding his baton
    Former President Daniel Moi holding his baton.

    Among the top echelons of the underground movement were Prof Maina Kiongo, Prof Ngotho Kariuki, Kamonje Maina, Karimi Mungai, among others. 

    The movement was initially supposed to prepare the Kenyan public for a slow revolution but its growth spread like wild bush fire - partly due to the unpopularity of the government of the time. 

    The paranoid regime later discovered the existence of the movement that had been publishing radical leaflets - Pambana and Mpatanishi

    Despite the state agents' efforts to spy on the movement, the platform continued to grow - until marital woes facing one of the ring leaders reached President Daniel Arap Moi. 

    According to Prof Kiongo, his marriage was falling apart and his wife was so bitter with him that she was willing to do everything to harm him. 

    The wife knew that her husband had been involved in the spread of the banned Mwakenya leaflets.

    "While I was away, she went to my study room and took a leaflet that had 40 names penned down with each member's contribution. She then went to the bishop presiding the church where Moi attended church services and insisted on seeing the President for a sensitive matter.

    "The bishop initially refused to allow her access unless she could reveal the contents of the sensitive matter. She then divulged that she had the names of the people plotting to bring down Moi's government and that her husband was the ring leader," Kiongo narrated in a recent interview with KTN News

    Unfortunately, and unknown to the wife, the list shared with Moi was not that of her husband's secretive gang but was from a list of friends who had contributed to the education of children left behind by Kiongo's deceased friend. 

    "It so happened that at around that time, our close friend, who was also Prof Ngotho's roommate in the university, died at a very young age and left behind young children. As we were burying him, I told my friends to start a fund so we could educate his children and I was tasked with the collection initiative and that was the list that my wife had collected from the study," Kiongo added.

    The state went into action and arrested all the 40 people who were on the list and they were all taken to the Nyayo Torture Chambers. 

    The experience still haunts Prof Kiongo to date - noting that not only was his Mwakenya Movement killed - but many of his innocent friends were tortured and imprisoned. 

    "Some people in that list were members of the movement, but the majority were innocent and were just friends who wanted to help their friend's children. All of them were taken to Nyayo Torture Chambers. It was something that affected me for years because, while I was not innocent, many people suffered for just being my friends," the scholar intimated. 

    While Mwakenya faded away as an organisation, its ideas continued to grow even after its members were imprisoned. 

    "While in prison, we continued to grow and recruit members. That is where we met Raila Odinga, Mirugi Kariuki, Gitobu Imanyara, and many others," Manje recalled. 

    The Moi government eventually agreed to multipartyism in 1992 and KANU was eventually deposed in 2002. Despite the growth in democracy, the government has done little to honour those who were tortured and persecuted by the state in the 1980 and early 1990s. 

    Many of the Nyayo Torture Chamber victims have won cases requiring the state to pay them millions in compensation - but the court orders have largely been ignored. 

    One of Mwakenya Movement founder Prof Maina Kiongo.
    One of the Mwakenya Movement's founders Prof Maina Kiongo.
    died fire arrest killed