Christopher Kiprotich Arap Murei

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    Nyongesa Sande

    Christopher Kiprotich Arap Murei , one of the most radical nationalists in the colonial Kenya.
    He was born in 1928 in Nandi and was educated at G.A.S. Kapsabet 1942-48. He later joined Kenya Police serving between 1949 and 1954 when he was fired. He then ventured into business.
    This was the time when African nationalism in Kenya was reaching its peak. The declaration of the state of emergency, and the arrest of top nationalists, had heightened anticolonial sentiments, giving fresh impetus to the fight for freedom.
    Those Africans who had served in the police and in the military were seen as assets in the fight for freedom because of their militant nature and experience which could be put in good use incase there was need to take arms.
    It was against this backdrop that Argwings-Kodhek who had just unveiled the Nairobi District African Congress (NDAC) convinced Kiprotich to become a member in 1955, setting him on a political path. Kiprotich would later rise to become the Secretary-General of NDAC, at the same time serving as Nairobi Tenants Association.
    Kiprotich turned out to be an earnest politician making radical statements that rubbed the colonial authorities the wrong way . This at times landed him in trouble.
    On December 8, 1957 at a meeting of the NDAC convened by Argwings Kodhek at Madaraka Hall, Kiprotich criticized the harassment of Kodhek by the Colonial police and the curfew restrictions which he said the Governor was responsible. He threatened to mobilise Africans to walk in Government road at night to see if they could be arrested for breaking curfew laws. He warned the Attorney General to be ready to put our his guards or police to deal with the situation since he was not joking.
    To the government, Kiprotich’s remarks amounted to incitement and a threat to peace. He was briefly arrested and later released. However this never deterred him from making further radical statements.
    On January 5, 1958, when the colonial government threatened to prevent the NDAC from flying its flag Kiprotich in a speech at Madaraka Hall declared that if the Congress flag was to be banned, “the British Union Jack should also be banned.” He emphasised, “The Congress flag will fly for ever” also threatening that if the NDAC flag was banned he would send his men to burn Union Jacks.
    The Director of Intelligence who had been sent records of Kiprotich speech would later write, “Fortunately (for the Government) Union Jacks are taken down every night.”
    A power struggle would later ensue within the NDAC between Mboya and Kodhek who both wanted to control the Congress for their political goals especially to vie for the Nairobi LegCo seat. Kiprotich was among those who sided with Mboya. Another reason for Kiprotich turning against Kodhek, was because Kodhek in his radical stand was opposed to the constitution that gave African additional seats and wanted all African members of the LegCo to resign to put pressure on the colonial government. To him what was being offered to Africans was too little.
    Most African nationalists led by Odinga and Mboya held different views from Kodhek’s . They were of the opinion that Africans should accept the seats they were being offered in the new constitution , then demand for more after they had been elected.
    Kiprotich who was eyeing the new Central Rift Constituency felt that rejecting the constitution as proposed by Kodhek would deny him a chance to vie. Unfortunately he failed the language and therefore couldn’t stand .
    In 1958, Kiprotich was among NDAC members who walked out with Mboya to form the Nairobi People’s Convention Party. He became Mboya’s staunchest supporter and hatchet man.
    When all parties were dissolved in 1960, to give way for KANU, Mboya who was fighting to tighten his grip on Nairobi against an onslaught from Odinga who was making efforts to control the city’s politics , engineered the election of his close ally Kiprotich as KANU Nairobi Branch Chairman.
    On one occasion in 1962 ,when Odinga and Kenyatta attempted to hold a meeting in Nairobi while Mboya was away in the US, Kiprotich organised goons to disrupt the meeting. The reasoning was that this was an attempt by Kenyatta and Odinga to undermine Mboya in Nairobi by holding political meetings in his constituency while he was away.
    Fortunately Odinga and Kenyatta had recieved prior information and arrived with hundreds of armed youths from central who were able to fight it out with those organised by Kiprotich. After 30 minutes of chaos the situation was brought under control by the police and the meeting proceeded.
    In 1963, Kiprotich joined parliament to represent Kericho East Constituency. Within just two months of his election he organised a very big rally for Mboya at Kericho where Mboya criticized Asians for exploiting Africans.
    In 1969 , when Mboya was assassinated Kiprotich declared that all cabinet ministers and members of parliament should resign to put pressure on the government. With the death of Mboya, Kiprotich’s political career took a nosedive. That same year (1969), he lost his parliamentary seat to Moses Kiprono Arap Keino.

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