Mwakenya: Real or Phantom?, is Jimmy Achira’s persecution experience Daniel Arap Moi’s Kenya in 1980s. The Daily Nation captured best the nebulous phenomenon called Mwakenya.
“Mwakenya remained a chimera to the Kenyan media. Reporters knew no “Mwakenya” officials and received no calls, manifestos or press releases from them.
“There was no known office location, or telephone or fax numbers. Everything that came to the media house, and appeared as trial evidence, was from the Moi-KANU government.
“The seditious documents produced in court were always photo-copies, never originals. It was not only university lecturers, students who were victims of the security dragnet-civil servants and journalists too, were picked up”. –Daily Nation, Sept. 20th 1987.
In the 1980s, in Moi’s regime, it was anathema to be termed “Mwakenya” for that would pronounce arrest, torture and jail. It was one of the saddest chapters in the nation’s history; people talked in hushed voices, looking over their shoulders to see who was listening; when people worried what they were seen reading for it could be “seditious”.
Jimmy Achira, a journalist who found himself in the Mwakenya dragnet, chronicles his experiences in Mwakenya: Real or Phantom?
The book is not a history of Mwakenya but a personal account of encounter with oppression in Moi’s Kenya. The real story of Mwakenya would be told by historians. It is unfortunate that instruments like the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission have yet to unearth the atrocities against Kenyan people; atrocities perpetuated in the name of state security; and law and order.
What others say:
“It is important that the experiences such as Achira’s be told for the sake of history and posterity. The history of those dark days should be taught in schools, alongside tales of heroic struggles such as that of Mau Mau
“Many Kenyans who enjoy the fruits of “freedom” under multi-party democracy know little about the suffering many faced and sacrifices made to achieve the current freedom.” – Gershom Otachi Bw’Omanwa
“The Nyaro era of the 1980s was a time of horror in the history of human rights in Kenya. In early 1986 the crackdown on those Kenyans perceived to have dissenting views about the government had been put in motion. Under the guise of rooting out subversives, particularly referred to as “Mwakenya” ( Muungano wa Wakenya) the police unleashed such a reign of terror that a wide cross-section of people’s lives were destroyed. “ – Dr Carey Francis Onyango, Lecturer and HUman Rights Activist.
“Political imprisonment was common in the Nyayo era in which Moi held Kenya in a vice-like grip. Now, the untold can be told. Stories, as Jimmy Achira’s, help us understand those days and the price many Kenyans paid for freedoms enjoyed today. “ – Dr Matunda Nyanchama, ICT Professional and Publisher.