Salim Lone: Mzee Rubia and Democracy

In Summary

• Mzee Rubia was the one in that conversation who stressed democracy as the way to save Kenya.

Charles Wanyoike Rubia
Charles Wanyoike Rubia
Image: COURTESY

The first time I talked to Mzee Rubia, I was astonished to hear him speak passionately about the need to restore democracy in Kenya.

It was April 20, 1975, and we were talking at the home of Dagoretti MP Dr Johnstone Muthiora the day after he had succumbed to a suspicious illness.

I was the Editor of the Sunday Post then, and we had supported Dr Muthioria’s challenge to sitting MP Dr Njoroge Mungai in the election a few months earlier (at subsequent great cost, of course), which I assume made Mzee Rubia speak freely to a journalist.

In our small condoling group with Mrs Bonnie Muthiora were also Kenneth Matiba, Dr JG Kiano and Maina Wanjigi, all of whom spoke equally damningly about the regime which had a few weeks earlier organized the brutal killing of J.M. Kariuki.

Mzee Rubia was the one in that conversation who stressed democracy as the way to save Kenya.

He and Kenneth Matiba were to pay a brutally heavy price for the beliefs during President Moi's rule.

I remember that conversation well because it marked a turning point in my optimism about our future: there were even within the upper echelons of our closed ruling circles senior cabinet ministers, major beneficiaries of the Kenyatta state, who harboured dreams of a democratic Kenya.

Needless to say, while that dream of a much better Kenya still remains unfulfilled, our multiple struggles have made us much more democratic than we ever were, rigged elections notwithstanding.