Mudavadi: How I was arrested after 1982 failed coup against Moi

Thursday, December 5th, 2019 00:00 |
ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi. Photo/PD/FILE

Curiosity about a fierce city shootout during the failed 1982 coup against President Daniel Moi’s government, led to the arrest and brief detention of Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi, then a University of Nairobi student.

Mudavadi, in his new book Musalia Mudavadi: Soaring Above the Storms of Passion, says he was at the university with other students when they heard sounds of gunshots at night.

They initially thought it may have been sounds of fireworks by the Asian community celebrating Diwali.

Stories began filtering through that soldiers had overthrown the government, which his father Moses Mudavadi was serving as Cabinet Minister.

One mid-morning, Mudavadi recalls, he gathered courage and left the university compound for Nairobi’s central business district because “I wanted to see for myself what was happening”.

At the time, his father was in Mexico.

“In my mind’s eye, I could clearly see the coup makers invading the homes of the ministers and other government officials to arrest them,” he recalls in the 418-page book.

The former Sabatia MP, who says in the streets he had “remained as an observer”, thought of seeking refuge at his uncle’s residence at Nairobi West but was cautioned against it on grounds of safety.

Arrested at home

He ended up at his friend’s home at Upper Hill where he stayed for a week before travelling to his rural home in Mululu, Vihiga.

“Unbeknown to me, this (city) street presence would come to haunt me. One afternoon, a white Land Rover materialised at our home (in) Mululu...” Mudavadi writes.

The officers left with him “after taking his mother’s tea”. He was driven to Chavakali market, a short distance from his home where they picked three other students before proceeding to Kakamega Police Station where they were locked up and later transferred to Webuye in Bungoma.

They were moved to Nairobi after three days. In Nairobi, they were taken to a building adjacent to the university named Turkoman Carpet, that was associated with disappearance and subsequent assassination of former Nyandarua North MP J M Kariuki in 1975.

Mudavadi was transferred to the Administration Police Training School in Embakasi in matatus but he was later released. 

What baffles him until today is how and why he was linked to a coup against a government which his father served as a Cabinet minister.

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