Major events that shaped 2018 in Kenya
‘Wakiapisha tunaapisha’: Raila Odinga takes oath
National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga on January 30 took a controversial oath as the “People’s President” in a ceremony skipped by his co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula.
The 90-word oath was administered by Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang and lawyer Miguna Miguna before thousands of NASA supporters who had thronged the historic Uhuru Park grounds to witness the “swearing-in”.
“Today is a historic day for the people of Kenya. For the first time in our history, people have gathered here in their hundreds of thousands to say enough is enough with election rigging. Today is a one stop towards doing away with electoral autocracy and to establishing proper democracy in the country,” said Odinga.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and the “People’s President” Raila Odinga surprised the nation on March 9 when they emerged from a closed door meeting and shook hands before glaring cameras; marking an end to their long-lasting political feud.
In what has now been christened ‘the handshake,’ the two leaders emphasised on the need to unite the country which they noted was then divided along ethnic, religious and political lines.
Speaking at Harambee House after a closed door meeting that lasted hours, the two leaders stressed that national interest must always prevail calling on Kenyans to support this new charter that will, among other things, address the divisions in a bid to build a stable nation where no one is left out.
The pact between the two has since seen a wave of political change sweep across the country; with Odinga allies voicing their support for President Kenyatta’s government and the two leaders making visits to each other’s backyard.
The handshake has also been viewed as a possible political alliance between Mr. Odinga and the Head of State towards the 2022 presidential election.
This has caused discomfort within Deputy President William Ruto’s camp as he was seen as the likely successor of President Kenyatta.
The handshake also led to the formation of a ‘Building Bridges Initiative’ team that was tasked with spearheading the process of uniting the country.
The team was led by Ambassador Martin Kimani and Paul Mwangi, and was composed of 14 members, including Senators Yusuf Haji (Garissa), and Amos Wako (Busia).
2018 was also the year where land grabbers and investors who erected buildings on riparian land came face to face with the full face of the law and their executioner; a SANY branded excavator.
Businessmen and women counted losses as their buildings – some even linked to the high and mighty in society – were reduced to rubble in a crackdown by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) on structures erected on riparian land.
Kenyan laws define riparian land as being a minimum of 6 metres and up to a maximum of 30 metres on either side of a river bank from the highest water mark.
A Shell petrol station and a Java House outlet in the upmarket Kileleshwa estate in Nairobi were among the first casualties of the crackdown as they were brought down in dawn demolition.
Then came the South End mall at the junction of Mbagathi Way and Langata Road, the Ukay Mall and then the Airgate Centre – previously known as Taj Mall – among a host of other buildings that were either in riparian or illegally built on public.
If it came with the word ‘riparian,’ then the big bad boy – SANY – also came knocking and that is when it got real.
Miguna Miguna deported… twice
Kenyan-Candian lawyer-turned-politician Miguna Miguna was probably one of the most controversial personalities in the country in 2018.
The self-styled National Resistance Movement (NRM-Ke) General administered the oath to opposition leader Raila Odinga when he was ‘sworn in’ as the “People’s President” in a historic occasion at Uhuru Park grounds on January 30, 2018.
Two days later, his Runda home was raided and ransacked by police officers and he was whisked away in what was only the beginning of his troubles.
Miguna was transferred from one police station to the next, from court to court before he was finally deported to Canada on the night of February 6.
He returned to Kenya in late March but was denied entry at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport before being bundled into an Emirates flight EK 722 to Dubai.
The outspoken former advisor to Raila Odinga, in a Facebook post, claimed he was drugged before being put on the flight.
He was, however, recently awarded Ksh.7 million in compensation for violation of his rights by a Nairobi court.
Eliud Kipchoge breaks world record
Kenya’s Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge set a sensational world record in long distance on September 16, shaving more than a minute off the previous best with a dazzling run in Berlin, Germany.
33-year-old Kipchoge, widely seen as the greatest marathon runner of the modern era, defended his title from last year’s Berlin Marathon with an official time of time of two hours, one minutes and 39 seconds on a sunny and warm autumn day along the flat inner-city course to beat Dennis Kimetto’s world best by a minute and 18 seconds – set in Berlin back in 2014.
Sharon Otieno murder
On September 5, 2018, the mutilated body of Rongo University student was found dumped in Kodera Forest, Homa Bay County.
This came barely hours after a Nation journalist, Barack Oduor, had emerged claiming he was abducted for pursuing a story implicating Migori Governor Okoth Obado in a love triangle.
Governor Obado was charged with the murder but pleaded not guilty and spent over a month at Industrial Area prison.
He was, however, later released while his aides, with whom he was charged – Michael Oyamo and Caspal Obiero – remain jailed.
Sharon Otieno was laid to rest at her grandfather’s home in Magare Village, Kanyabala location on Friday October 19, 2018.
Monica Kimani murder
Shortly after Sharon Otieno was found murdered, the lifeless body of yet another woman was discovered in Nairobi.
29-year-old Monica Kimani was found murdered in her apartment at at Luciane Apartments on Kitale Lane, off Denis Pitt road, on September 21 in one of the most horrendous ways yet; handcuffed, dipped in a bathtub and her throat slit.
According to her father, Paul Nyagarama, Monica had been living in South Sudan where she ran a family business for about seven years but moved back to the country three months ago.
Police launched investigations into the murder which culminated to the arrest of the prime suspect – Joseph ‘Jowie’ Irungu – on September 24.
On September 29, Citizen TV anchor Jacque Maribe was also taken into custody but was freed on October 30 while her co-accused, Jowie, was denied bail and remains in prison pending hearing of the case on June 18 – 27 next year.
In denying Jowie bail, the court ruled that he has extensively traveled to Middle East with no known assets in the country and his willingness to surrender the passport is no guarantee that he will not jump bail or abscond court.