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'Uncle Ken' Matiba burnt his voter's card in fight for democracy

Veteran politician Kenneth Matiba is famous for having burnt his voter’s card ahead of the 1997 election to protest the “lack of democracy” in the country.

It was not until 2006 that Matiba, also popularly known as Uncle Ken, announced that he had registered as a voter again fueling speculation that he would actively be involved in the 2007 elections.

Matiba, a crusader of multi-party democracy in Kenya died in a Nairobi hospital on Sunday.

Read: Kenneth Matiba is dead

He was on the ballot but his prowess had faded away only garnering some 8,000 votes in the disputed December 2007 elections.

The late Matiba is among politicians who fought the Kanu regime after resigning from the government in 1988 agitating for multi-party democracy.

Matiba also served as Minister of Transport and Communications under President Daniel arap Moi before resigning in December 1988.

At the time, Matiba joined other politicians to fight against the single-party state led by Moi and agitating for multi-party democracy.

As a result, Moi ordered their arrest on July 5, 1990, and Matiba was held in detention without trial alongside Raila Odinga and Charles Rubia.

It was while in prison that Matiba suffered a stroke which affected half of his body.

Matiba suffered a serious stroke on May 26, 1991, but remained in detention without medication for one week.

And for the torture in the hands of state agents, in August last year, the court ruled that the State pays the multi-party crusader half a billion shillings.

A month later, the court said that the compensation would be Sh945 million citing miscalculation in the earlier award.

Read: Matiba to be paid Sh945 million after calculation error in torture case

He was later released after the repeal of Section 2A that made Kenya a multi-party democracy and joined other politicians to form FORD.

After the split of FORD in August of 1992, Matiba helped put together FORD-Asili on whose ticket he ran for the Presidency in that year’s elections.

He came second in the election with 26 per cent of the votes with Moi winning with 36 per cent of the votes.

Matiba boycotted the 1997 polls and burnt his voter’s card citing the lack of democracy in an election that Moi was re-elected for a final term.

Due to his political rivalry with retired President Mwai Kibaki, Matiba refused his party Saba Saba Asili to join the combined opposition coalition NARC at the 2002 elections.

Kibaki went on to win the election in which Matiba did not contest for either the Presidency or Parliament.

Matiba was born on June 1, 1932 to the late Stanley Njindo and Susan Wanjiku at Kahuhia in Murang’a County.

Matiba attended Kahuhia and Mariira Primary Schools between 1942 and 1950 before joining Alliance High School in Kikuyu.

During his days at Alliance High School where he took a keen interest in sport becoming hockey captain, playing volleyball and doing gymnastics.

Matiba proceeded to Makerere University where he attained and Diploma in Education and later a Bachelor Degree in History, Geography and Sociology.

He Married Edith Wanjiru in 1961 and they have five children – Susan, Raymond, Ivy, Julie and Gitau.

Matiba started his career as a teacher at Kangaru High School before moving to the Ministry of Education as a deputy officer in charge of higher education.

In 1963, he was appointed a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education before being moved to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives in the same capacity the next year.

The late Matiba served as the chairman of the Kenya Football Federation from 1974 to 1978.

He was elected to Parliament in the 1983 general elections from the Mbiri Constituency (present-day Kiharu).

All News | The Star, Kenya

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