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Kenya’s constitutional struggle: From Mboya to Saba Saba to BBI

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Last week Kenya marked two anniversaries.

Fifty-two years ago, the country experienced a terrible tragedy – the assassination of Tom Mboya, the 38-year-old minister for economic planning and development. Even at that young age, Mboya was already a living legend in Kenya and beyond. In his 20s, he had been one of Africa’s top anti-colonial leaders and had helped build and organise the trade union movement across the continent. In his 30s, he participated in negotiating Kenya’s independence and did much to determine the future course the country would take. On July 5, 1969, he was murdered by the state he had built and served.

Cut down in his prime, the ambitious Mboya left behind a mixed legacy, one that the country is still coming to terms with. His combination of personal brilliance, charm and oratory skill are unmatched in Kenyan political history and the opportunities he opened up for a generation of Kenyans to study in the United States gifted that country its first Black president and gave Kenya its first Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

However, as Kenya’s first minister of justice and constitutional affairs, he was also largely responsible for the mutilation of the independence constitution, bringing to Parliament amendments that created the very monster that would eventually devour not just him, but thousands of his countrymen as well.

The amendments concentrated power in the person of the president, watered down and eventually abolished........

© Al Jazeera

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