Friday, December 01, 2006
SECRET PAPERS: Kenyatta versus Idi Amin
Recently I stumbled upon some secret papers on Idi Amin one of the most brutal dicators to have ruled in Africa. The papers which were published by the Daily Nation shows that Kenya lost close to shs 5 billion at the current exchange rate when Idi Amin nationalised properties belonging to non-Ugandans.
The hitherto confidential papers – now made public - also indicate how close Kenya went into war with Uganda in July 1976 after Amin stepped up a hate campaign against the Kenyatta government.
As a result, Kenyatta privately warned Amin to either stop the killings of Ugandans and other nationals, pay up Kenya’s monies or else.
Part of the items seized to that period included a car belonging to Peter Muigai Kenyatta, - then an assistant minister for foreign affairs- while accounts of Timsales Ltd, which Kenyatta family had interests, were blocked.
Besides touching the Kenyatta family, assets belonging to Kenyan companies were seized and nationalised and included the Uganda Brewery, a subsidiary of East African Brewery which in 1971 made record after placing the largest public share issue in Kenya’s history. By the time it was seized the brewery had assets worth shs 61 million, equivalent to shs 530 million at current exchange rates.
Others notables who lost property and money in the looting spree were Chandaria Industries, Car& General (which was nationalised), while Attorney-General Charles Njonjo’s first-cousin Andrew Mungai Muthemba’s company, Kentazuga Hardware, lost goods worth shs 452,000 (current rate shs 4 million).
Muthemba is best remembered in Kenya as the man who was accused in 1980s of acquiring arms in a bid to topple Moi's government
Back to Amin and Kenyatta, it now appears, the row was both personal and political.
As a last minute ditch, Kenya summoned foreign diplomats in Nairobi and issued the warning to Uganda on the morning of July 27, 1976.
Also declassified is a partial list of Kenyans who died in the hands of Ugandan forces between January 1971 and July 1976 and include the missing freedom fighter, Kungu Karumba. (see separate story) who went missing in Uganda on June 14, 1974.
Behind the scenes, Kenya’s then foreign minister, Dr Munyua Waiyaki, tried to negotiate for the return of the seized assets – houses, cash, plots and shares- but Amin accelerated his reign of terror by grabbing more Kenyans and their assets.
The papers reveal that a week after Kenya issued its final warning to Uganda, a delegation from Kampala arrived at the Office of the President in Nairobi to talk peace and Waiyaki repeated his earlier warning that Amin must stop “piratical and criminal activities of [his] undisciplined Army”.
Waiyaki had earlier taken his demands to the UN where he tabled the list of accounts that Amin had frozen, names of assets seized, and nationalised.
That Kenya also came close to toppling Amin has never been made public. But the ex-Ugandan strongman, who died in exile, was finally toppled by Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere’s soldiers on April 11, 1979.
And these are some of the Kenyans who disappeared or suffered in Uganda.
Here below are some of the other incidents that Kenyatta took to the UN.
• In February 1971 Mr Ndolo Mwaniki and Musyoki Mwaniki were killed by the Uganda Army Personnel either by beating or drowning.
• John Maina, a Kenyan businessman was arrested by the Army on April 9, 1971. His whereabouts is not known
• Mr Dominic Onyango Amoth, a senior accountant with East African Community at Tororo was shot dead by Army officers on the night of April 21/22.
• Oketch Muga was arrested by the army at his place of work at Kisenyi on June 26 and taken to Lubiri Barracks. He has never been seen.
• Raphael Ambinyo Omolo was picked from his house on June 26 1971 and was never traced.
• On August 6 Mr James Mungai who is believed to have been detained at Kasese Police Station was beaten to death by Uganda authorities
• David Kabaka who was reported missing since the military coup in January 1971 has never been traced
• Mr George Nderitu, a Kenyan businessman resident in Uganda and who was being sought by the Uganda army escaped back to Kenya and in the process was robbed over shs 3,000 by Uganda authorities at the border
• Twenty Kenyans were killed in a border raid and thousands of livestock stolen.
• Samson Indeche was taken up by Uganda military Personnel in October 1972 and taken to Makindi Military camp. He has not been heard of since.
• Mr Amarakar Sachdev, a Kenyan citizen, was reported missing from his Liandanda on August 22 has not been traced
• Mr John Muli, a Kenyan journalist together with his two friends Messrs Githome and Maundu were reported missing; to date their whereabouts is not known.
• On March 14, 1972 Uganda army personnel entered Kenya and arrested one administration policeman and two Turkana tribesmen and detained them at Moroto Army Barracks. They were later released after being molested.
• January 31, 1973 John Oketch Amara was picked up by Uganda army officers at the Railway Regional Headquarters and taken to an unknown destination. He is believed to have been killed thereafter
• On January 7, 1973 three Kenyans James Ogola, Omolo Uruidha and Sam Oringo were killed in a Kampala Bar by Uganda Army Personnel
• In January 1973 Lieutenant Omar Hussein, a Kenyan air-force officer while visiting Uganda was shot and killed by a Uganda soldier
• On January 3 and 8 Uganda army and police in a government land rover crossed into Kenya and molested innocent Kenyans in Turkana and Pokot districts
• On September 12, 1973 well armed Ugandan soldiers in a private vehicle crossed into Kenya and were promptly arrested by Kenya police.
• In early February 1973, forty Kenyans working with the East African Railways Corporation were kidnapped at gun point and taken to an unknown destination. It is feared they were all killed and have not been heard of since
• Mr. Kungu Karumba who had gone to Uganda on business went missing on June 14, 1974 and was killed by Amin’s men. Throughout 1974 Uganda tribesmen with the support of the Amin’s regime continued to harass Kenyans along the common border. Five Kenyans lost their lives.
• January 27, 1976 a Kenyan businessman John Oyuga Danga who had been held captive for two months under constant threat bought his way to safety with a hundred shs 180,000 bribe
• February 13, 1976, two Kenyan girls studying at Makerere University were picked up by Ugandan authorities at Entebbe Airport. One (Sally Githere) escaped but the other one, Esther Chesire ( a sister to Reuben Chesire) has never been traced.
• On February 15, 1975 Amin made a shock statement claiming a large part of Kenyan territory.
• On March 16, a Kenyan student at Makerere, Mr A. M. Ireri, was beaten unconscious by the Uganda soldiers
• On April 8, Uganda made allegations that the proposed communications link between Kenya and Sudan was an Israeli plot.
• On May 20 Amin accused Kenya of recruiting Ugandan exiles into the General Service Unit.
• On July 4, 1976 at the OAU meeting in Mauritius, Uganda accused Kenya of collaborating with Israel on the Entebbe raid.