Kenneth Matiba

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Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba
Leader of Opposition
In office
PresidentDaniel arap Moi
Member of Parliament for Kiharu
In office
PresidentDaniel arap Moi
Minister of Transport and Communications
In office
1983 – December 1988
PresidentDaniel arap Moi
Minister of Health
In office
PresidentDaniel arap Moi
Minister of Culture and Social Services
In office
PresidentDaniel arap Moi
Member of Parliament for Mbiri
In office
PresidentDaniel arap Moi
Chairman of the Kenya Football Federation
In office
PresidentJomo Kenyatta
Permanent Secretary for Commerce
In office
PresidentJomo Kenyatta
Personal details
Born(1932-06-01)1 June 1932[1]
Murang'a, Kenya
Died15 April 2018(2018-04-15) (aged 85)
Political partySaba Saba Asili
Spouse(s)Edith Matiba
ChildrenSusan Matiba
Raymond Matiba
Ivy Matiba
Julie Matiba
Gitau Matiba
Alma materMakerere University (BA in sociology, geography and history.)[2]

Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba (1 June 1932 – 15 April 2018) was a Kenyan politician and an activist for democracy. He came in at second place in the 1992 presidential election. In November 2007, he announced that he would stand as a presidential candidate in the December 2007 election.[3] Matiba placed seventh, with 8,046 votes.

Early career[edit]

Matiba became a senior civil servant at age 31. Before Kenya attained its independence in December 1963, he became the first indigenous African Permanent Secretary for Education (in May of that year).[4] Matiba was mentored by Carey Francis, headmaster of Alliance High School, who lobbied for his promotion to permanent secretary. In 1964, Matiba was appointed Permanent Secretary for Commerce under Minister Mwai Kibaki.[4]

Matiba continued to succeed during the post-colonial period, helped by his connection to the Kiambu family of Musa Gitau, one of the first Africans to become a minister in the Kenyan Presbyterian Church (Matiba is Gitau's son-in-law). Gitau also influenced Jomo Kenyatta, having taught him at the PCEA Center, Thogoto, Kikuyu. In the patron-client reward system established by Kenyatta after independence, such connections were important to success in the public and private sectors. Matiba later left his civil-service career for one in the hospitality industry, establishing the Alliance Group of Hostels based on the South Coast. He also invested in exclusive private schools, including Hillcrest Preparatory (founded by Frank Thompson) and Hillcrest Secondary School.

Matiba was chairman of the Kenya Football Federation from 1974 to 1978, and was elected to the Kenyan Parliament in the 1983 general elections from the Mbiri Constituency (later renamed Kiharu) in the Muranga District.[5] He served as Minister of Transport and Communications under the KANU administration led by President Daniel arap Moi, resigning in December 1988.

Political activism[edit]

At Moi's behest, Matiba was held without trial at the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in 1990 with Charles Rubia, a member of the Kenyan Cabinet who also called for multiparty democracy.[6] While in prison Matiba was refused medication and suffered a stroke, which affected half his body and incapacitated him for some time. Later, a multiparty system was instituted and Matiba was released.

He was part of the opposition alliance forming the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD). During the December 1992 election, Matiba was the candidate representing FORD-Asili, a party he helped found in splintering from the original FORD. President Moi won the election on the KANU ticket; Matiba placed second, winning the Kiharu Constituency parliamentary seat in the concurrent parliamentary elections.[5] He boycotted the December 1997 election (citing a lack of democracy), burning his voter's card.[7] Matiba has a long-standing rivalry with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki. Before the December 2002 election Matiba was leader of the minor Saba Saba Asili party, which declined to join the NARC coalition;[8] however, he did not run for the presidency or a parliamentary seat.

In his later years, Matiba was dogged by ill-health stemming from his 1990 imprisonment. His business holdings also suffered, with his hotel chain being briefly taken into administration (although he regained control) and Hillcrest School sold by administrators (a case he legally contested). Matiba regained control of the school, which he later sold to a consortium led by Fanisi.

He founded The People newspaper. It began as a weekly in 1992, becoming a daily in 1998; however, it was a drain on Matiba's finances.[9]

As of 2008, he remained chairman of Saba Saba Asili and re-registered as a voter.[10]

Personal life[edit]

In 2000 Matiba released his autobiography, Aiming High.[4] As of 2010 he lived in Riara Ridge, Rironi (near Limuru), with his wife, Edith.[11] Their son, Raymond, is a former chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board.[12]

Matiba died on 15 April 2018 at the Karen Hospital after a long illness.[13]


  1. ^ New African. IC Magazines Limited. 2002. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  2. ^ Walloga, Laban (5 June 2013). "Detention saved Matiba from the sword of Kanu killers, says Edith". Nation Media Group. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  3. ^ The Standard, 16 November 2007: Matiba set to contest presidency Archived 17 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b c Daily Nation, 13 April 2003: "The Influential Young Turks of the 60s". Archived from the original on 9 January 2004. Retrieved 21 April 2017.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  5. ^ a b Center for Multiparty Democracy: Politics and Parliamentarians in Kenya 1944–2007
  6. ^ Amnesty USA, 7 February 1991: Medical Concern: Kenneth Matiba[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ The Standard, 26 November 2006:Anxiety over return of Kenneth Matiba
  8. ^ The Standard, 26 November 2006: Why former Kiharu MP will never forgive Kibaki
  9. ^ KENYA Press, Media, TV, Radio, Newspapers
  10. ^ Daily Nation, 29 September 2007: Anxiety grips Murang'a as Matiba gets new voter's card[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ The Standard, 27 February 2010: He will be remembered as one of the pioneer fighters of multipartysm in Kenya and was tortured by former president Daniel Moi. Raila, visits Matiba ahead of Kigumo tour Archived 24 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Financial Post: Kenya eyes a trillion shilling market Archived 22 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Otinga, Rene (15 April 2018). "Veteran politician Kenneth Matiba is dead". Retrieved 15 April 2018.