Kenya's by-election won with Sh5 ‘kobole’ shower

Andrew Kimani Ngumba (R) and Dr Waiyaki Munyua former Kenya foreign affairs minister

Mathare hosts places like Kisumu Ndogo, Kwa Nyang’ao, Kosovo and Jangili and has had an equally colourful retinue of parliamentarians.

The longest serving area parliamentarian was Dr Munyua Waiyaki, who had four uninterrupted terms from 1963, when he was among the less than five black couples invited to uhuru celebrations alongside lawyer SM Otieno and wife Wambui Otieno, coincidentally, Waiyaki’s sister.

Mathare was then called North East Nairobi, which the South African and British educated doctor served until 1979.

Andrew Kimani Ngumba, after whom Nairobi’s Ngumba Estate is named, then took over. The former Mayor of Nairobi was arguably the most progressive-minded Mathare MP. His ambitious expansion of Rural-Urban Credit Finance (which advanced unsecured loans to constituents interested in buying Volkswagen combis plying the Nyamakima-Mathare Number 10 route) led to its collapse in 1984, precipitating a spiral ruin of local banks, including Jimnah Mbaru’s Union Bank and Jimba Credit Corporation.

With the government and depositors on his neck, Kimani Ngumba fled to Sweden in 1986, and as Koigi wa Wamwere recounts in his 2002 memoir, ‘I refuse to Die,’ effigies were burnt by demonstrators carrying placards shouting ‘Ngumba: Mwizi!’ Ngumba’s exile occasioned a by-election that was won by Dr Josephat Njuguna Karanja, who resigned as University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor to contest the seat.

Dr Karanja’s victory was greatly tilted by the influential five-cent sized Councilor ‘Ndururu’ Kiboro, after whom Kiboro Primary on Juja Road is named. His campaign also coincided with the issuance of the ‘kobole’ Sh5 coins, which Kenya’s first High Commissioner to London literally showered the voters with.

The hubby to a Ugandan Toro cutie became vice chancellor after Mbiyu Koinange, powerful Minister of State, put in a good word for him with President Jomo Kenyatta, who appointed him to replace Dr Arthur Porter in 1970.

The man who showed off Beatrice, when it was politically anathema, couldn’t dislodge the late Arthur Magugu in his Githunguri home base at the time. He shifted base to Mathare after Ngumba’s financial debacle and subsequent flight to Sweden, where he swept the streets of Stockholm for survival.

Dr Karanja was later appointed Vice President after Mwai Kibaki was dropped like a bad habit.

But alas! Dr Karanja, the “kneel-before-me” politician was humiliated in Parliament as disloyal, arrogant and corrupt. He was forced into resignation to skirt a no confidence motion in 1989, effectively making his the second shortest stint as Veep after Musalia Mudavadi’s three months!

In 1994 (when Dr Karanja died at 63) Mathare had a by-election. Frederick Masinde died in an accident without knowing he had won, spurring another by-election. But did you know that when Dr Munyua Waiyaki was first elected in 1963 Kenya had no electoral body like IEBC, no voters register, and no civic education?

Roger A. Wilkinson dutifully served as Supervisor of Elections held seven months to independence.

Did you also know that, unlike today when ballot papers are imported, back then, they were printed locally by the Government Press along Haile Selassie Avenue