URA: Kikuyu word that gave Moi sleepless nights

Late President Daniel arap Moi thought "URA" was a movement to topple him. [Photo: Courtesy]

In November 1993 Koigi wa Wamwere and few others were accused of allegedly raiding Bahati Police Station in Nakuru and earlier purportedly forming a political party to overthrow government of Daniel arap Moi (Now deceased).

The party, government claimed was URA (United Resistance Army). The word scared Moi but Koigi says the state was misinformed. URA he recalls was a word matatu operators in Nakuru terminus used in their daily activities.

URA in Kikuyu language means get lost or move. It was a way touts instructed drivers to do when their vehicles were full to let others pick customers.

“No one could tell where it began but amongst to the matatu operators it became common. Everywhere they said, “URA” and the government was getting suspicious for no reason” Koigi says.

Koigi wa Wamwere and others were arraigned in court and sentenced. [Photo: Courtesy]
However, Moi had sleepless nights fearing that plot to eject him was underway. He was frightened by the mention of URA.

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Coincidentally, that time Koigi dressed in jeans and sports shoes, same way with touts and drivers. This he believes made the state machinery believe URA was a movement on a fishy mission.

Koigi, his two brothers, an in-law and other people were rounded up and then beaten up. He was accused of administering oath to the young men and also raided the Bahati police station, killing four.

He says it was fabrication and that the four bodies were sourced from mortuaries and some were even rotting.

When they were arraigned in court charged with attempted robbery, late Chief Magistrate William Tuiyot sentenced them to four years in prison and six lashes of cane on October 2, 1995.


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