Gen Zs’ complete guide to Saba Saba and its link to Raila Odinga
Why is Saba Saba significant? It is the genesis of a nation’s fight, as Kenyans united to demand freedom, this birthed a legendary day.
It all started 33 years ago on July 7, 1990, Kenyans took to the streets to demand free and fair elections plus the restoration of multiparty democracy.
However, the politicians who had called for the protests, Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia, were arrested on July 4, 1990, days before the protests.
This was after they announced that they would hold a multiparty rally at Nairobi’s Kamukunji grounds in Shauri Moyo, on Saturday, July 7, 1990.
Ironically, the more the government announced stringent measures and warnings against the call for the rally, the more citizens seemed to get excited about it.
Kenyans demanded the restoration of multiparty democracy and also for the release of the two leaders and all other political detainees.
On the material day, thousands of Kenyans marched to Kamukunji, from all directions of Nairobi. The media ignored State warnings and covered the event fully.
The event was a cocktail of violent confrontations between the police and the protestors. The riots spread to all slum areas in Nairobi and to parts of Thika, Nakuru, Kiambu, and Nyeri.
A crackdown on opposition leaders began with those who had not fled the country being arrested.
Besides Rubia, Matiba, Martin Shikuku and Masinde Muliro, other active players in the Saba Saba protests included Raila Odinga, Gitobu Imanyara, Kiraitu Murungi, Paul Muite, Mukhisa Kituyi, and Lawyer Gibson Kamau Kuria. Those arrested were beaten up and detained by then-tyrannical dictator President Moi.
Other strands of the resistance flowed through the Federation of Kenya Women Lawyers, fronted by such lawyers as Martha Koome, Abida Aroni, Nancy Baraza, and Martha Karua participated.
In present-day Kenya, Saba Saba has taken on a new meaning, with human rights defenders (HRDs) and civil society organisations such as Inuka Kenya Ni Sisi, Kenya Human Rights Commission, National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders, the Social Justice Centres’ Working Group and Mathare Social Justice Center among others asking for respect of the constitution, an end to police brutality and killings, advocating for a favourable legal and policy environment in Kenya.
On the 33rd anniversary of Saba Saba, Raila is set to launch a fresh wave of anti-government protestswith the start of mass signature collection to signify the withdrawal of Kenya’s sovereignty from President William Ruto and all government officials.