By Prof. MWAI WACHIRA
The Kalenjin nation is today fighting the perception that majority of its elites in the public service are corrupt. This has not always been the case as there was a time leaders from Kalenjin nation stood shoulder to shoulder with other Kenyans in demanding for fairness, justice and good governance. I will highlight 3 such leaders though there have been many others.
Jean Marie Seroney
He was the MP for Tinderet from 1963 to 1975 who is best remembered for caustically dismissing the then VP Moi point of order in parliament in 1975. It so happened that Martin Shikuku the MP for Butere had made a remark that the Kenyatta government was trying to kill parliament the way it had killed Kanu. Moi as the leader of government business in the house stood on a point of order and demanded that Shikuku should substantiate, Seroney who was the deputy speaker looked at Moi with feign sympathy and then retorted, ‘How does one substantiate the obvious’.
Seroney and Shikuku were detained by Kenyatta but Moi released them when he ascended to power in 1978. In 1979, Moi made sure Seroney lost his Tinderet seat to a minion known as Henry Kosgey. In 1981, Seroney checked to Nairobi hospital suffering from a normal illness and after 2 days the doctor gave him a clean bill of health. While he was preparing to leave, the same doctor who now looked nervous insisted of giving Seroney an injection, ostensibly for future protection. Seroney resisted but the doctor went ahead and injected him. Seroney died a few hours after the injection, he never left the hospital.
She was Seroney’s protégé and had joined parliament in 1974 aged only 24 years as the MP for Eldoret North. Mutai joined the rank of the radicals that included Seroney, Shikuku, Anyona and JM Kariuki. When some radicals were killed and others detained in 1975, Mutai continued with the struggle as a one woman opposition bench. She won back her seat in 1979 and continued with her radicalism but when she complained about theft of maize in NCBP, Moi got apprehensive and got the police to arrest her on trump up charges. She jumped bail and ran to Tanzania but when she came back, her spirit had been crushed and she retreated to a solitude life.
Bishop Alex Kipsang Muge
This was one man who gave Moi sleepless nights in the 80s. He was the fearless Anglican bishop for Eldoret diocese who did not mind stepping on big toes when the need arose. Muge is best remembered for fighting the mlolongo nomination system that Kanu had introduced in 1988. Muge was also a big critic of corruption that was rampant then and he could move to different parts of the country condemning the vice. One Sunday in August 1990, he made it known that he would be travelling to Busia to preach against corruption. A Moi minister from Busia, one Peter Okondo warned him not to step in Busia lest he wouldn’t leave there alive. Muge as expected defied him, travelled to Busia on Monday morning, held a very successful crusade but on his way back to Eldoret, his car was crushed by a lorry and he died on the spot.
Kenya today is in need of more Seroney, Chelegat Mutai and Bishop Muge. Men and women who can stand up for what is right regardless of the tribe.