Episode 7


1985. The Nyayo years. A man is sitting in a bus going from Nairobi to Arusha, hoping nobody recognizes him. He just needed to make it to the airport in Arusha, catch a flight to London, and then he would be safe.

Nothing can prepared you for the moment you have to flee your own country. Will you be caught? Will you ever come back? Which of your family members and friends will die while you are gone? Which of them will you never see again? …..Was it all worth it?

This man was already interrogated twice by Moi’s Special Branch, the kind of people who would make political dissidents disappear. The first time, they came to his office and asked him to turn over some documents. He did, but they were not satisfied. The second time, he was brought to Nyayo House. They still were not satisfied with what he told them. The third time? There was no third time. His friends told him if he went in for the third time, he would not come back out. His wife helped him secure a plane ticket as soon as she could.

So there he was, sitting on a night bus to Arusha. He was now a political asylum seeker. The man’s name was Shiraz Durrani. His crime? Writing an article in the Standard. What did the article say? That Pio Gama Pinto was a national hero. That Pio Gama Pinto worked for, and only for, the people of Kenya. And that Pio Gama Pinto was assassinated. He was assassinated by the government of Kenya.

And, for that, he had to flee Kenya.

Pio and Emma were living in Nairobi now. The days of detention were over, Kenya was a free country. Pio was a part of KANU, and Emma was the breadwinner of the family. She worked as the personal secretary to Ramogi Achieng Oneko, then the Minister of Information.

[Olola Oneko] Kenyatta was now the president of Kenya and my father [Achieng Oneko] was Minister of Tourism and Information. He had already known Pio Gama Pinto.

Ever since Pio and Achieng spent years together at the brutal Manda Island detention centre, they and their families remained very close. Pio and Emma were like uncle and aunt to Oneko’s children. They were the kind of family friends who didn’t need to call before dropping by the house.

[Olola Oneko] Emma Gama Pinto became my father's personal secretary. Very nice people. Not just a personal secretary. Pio was like an uncle. And, with Emma, anything for example we as children needed, we could call her or go to the office, or when she comes around, we could tell her we need this and this and that... Of course she checked with my mum and mzee—you know, kids "need" so many things!—to cross-check, is this correct?

Emma was always smartly dressed. But Uncle Pio. On weekend afternoons, sometimes he’d roll by wearing shorts and sandals.

[Olola Oneko] Emma was very smartly dressed. Pio was...not that he was not smartly dressed, he was smart, but very casual. You'll find him, for example, in the late afternoons when he comes to our house, you see him with sandals. Not that roughly dressed but, you know... He was not that Nairobian, with a tie. I rarely saw him with a tie, unless we had a party where people had to put on ties, then he had one [tie]. Otherwise, normally, that was not Pio. He could just come. Even the car that he was driving: he used to drive, you know, nothing so... nice.

He’d swoop up the kids and them on a ride in his not-so-nice car into town. Then, they’d get ice cream. For the Oneko brothers, this was a big treat. The boys were still new to Nairobi and city life, having spent much of their lives in shags, or in open detention in Marsabit and Kapsabet. Ice cream with Uncle Pio was a true luxury.

But one time, right before the contested election between KANU and KADU, when tensions were rising, Uncle Pio pulled up to the Oneko house when the boys were home alone. It was clear from his demeanor that something was wrong. “Olola. Lwanda. Come with me. Come with me now, get your things.” The two boys collected some clothes and got into Uncle Pio’s not-so-nice car. He drove, and drove, and drove… That night, they arrived safely in Nakuru.

Apparently, some people had heard that Oneko’s house—with Olola and Lwanda inside–was going to be attacked, probably by people hired by political opponents. Uncle Pio had saved their lives.

On another occasion, when Achieng himself received death threats, Pio risked his life to hide Achieng for an entire month. Then, knowing how lonely Achieng must have felt during that tieme, Pio and Emma would smuggle him into their not-so-nice car, hide him under a blanket, and drive him to a drive-in movie. There, the three of them would watch a movie together.

Pio would sometimes drive for hours to other parts of the country to warn friends of possible arrest. In those times, you could never be too careful. When Pio drove in his not-so-nice car, he often would not take the most direct route. He would take a more complicated route, with his eyes always glancing at the rear-view mirror, as if he was being followed.

There was a beach house in Mombasa, the only one on that stretch of coast which was not owned by Europeans at the time. Fitz de Souza had purchased it, and he and his friends would often stay there. One of the friends in their circle was a Goan-Maasai Kenyan. Joseph Murumbi. Fitz had first met him in those early days in Pangani when Fitz and Pio took turns sleeping on the bed and the floor. They met Joe at the bus stop one day, on their way to Pio’s office at the Desai Memorial Library.

At that time, in early 1965, Joe was Minister of Foreign Affairs. He happened to be traveling in Mombasa, so decided to drop by Fitz’s beach house to take a look. He was surprised to find that someone was already staying there. It was Pio.

Joe asked Pio what he was doing there. Pio told him, he was brought there beacuse people had told him his life was in danger. He had been tipped off about a plan to murder him and Bildad Kaggia and J.D. Kali, for their “secret government activities.” Oginga Odinga himself had driven Pio overnight from Nairobi to Mombasa. Pio was making plans to flee to Mozambique.

Joe looked at him. He chuckled. “Don’t be ridiculous,” he said. “Pio, come back to Nairobi. It’ll be fine. We will raise the issue of your safety with Mzee, or with Koinange or Njonjo.”

Pio agreed. The next day, he returned to Nairobi by train.

24 February, 1965. A Wednesday.

In the morning, Pio and Emma got into their car. Pio drove Emma into town, to drop Emma off at her office in Jogoo House. They he drove back home.

At that time, Pio was an MP, and the Parliamentary sessions always began at 2pm. So in the mornings, he would always be in motion, always a blur—off to a meeting, typing up a memo on his typewriter, or writing a letter. That day, Pio took a quick breakfast and collected his Parliamentary papers before heading off.

Six-year-old Linda, Pio’s eldest daughter, was practicing her multiplication tables. Her grandmother was wearing a white sari, a ruler in hand. Little Linda stood there before her grandmother, reciting numbers. If she got one wrong, a sharp smack of the ruler was waiting for her.

Pio came into the room to say goodbye, before heading off for the day. He patted Linda on the head. He gave Grandma a kiss on the cheek.

Now it was time for Tereshka’s small treat. Pio’s youngest daughter Tereshka was only 18 months old. Every day on his way out, Pio would sweep her up and put her in the back seat of the car. On special days, he’d give her a sweetie.

Then, father and daughter would take a short, little, slow joyride—just from the back of the house to the front gate. Two or three minutes. Then, Pio would stop the car at the gate. The maid would come and open the door, pick up Tereshka, and carry her back home.

On Wednesday, 24 February 1965, Tereshka rode with her Papa for the last time.

Joe Murumbi was still at home that morning, just a five-minute drive from the Pintos’ home. He was shaving in the bathroom. His phone rang, and he picked it up. It was Achieng Oneko.

Achieng said that Pio had been beaten up at his home, and Joe should go see what happened, since he was so close. Emma, who was with Achieng at the office, had gotten a call from her mother. Her mother was screaming that Pio had been attacked. Emma had rushed into Achieng’s office and told him, then started making phone calls to arrange for a car to pick her up and take her home.

Murumbi bolted into action. He sent his driver and another employee at the house to drive there first, while he splashed water on his face and hurriedly threw on some clothes. He followed them soon in another car.

Murumbi swerved and parked his car on the road, outside the Pintos’ house. 6 Lower Kabete Road. He saw police officers. He saw Pio’s car parked right by the front gate—and he could make out that Pio was still inside.

Murumbi rushed out of his car and ran towards the car, yelling, “Pio! Pio! What happened? Are you okay, Pio? What happened?”

Emma’s heart was pounding. She saw Joe’s car, parked. Pio’s car, parked. She rushed past them both, into the house, to find her mother, daughters, and Pio. She found her mother, in that white sari, eyes wild with fear. Linda was still in the house, her face blank. “Where’s Pio,” Emma asked, “Where is Pio?”

“He’s still in the car,” was the reply. “He’s been killed.”

Emma ran back to the car. In the driver’s seat, she saw a body covered in a pink blanket.

Emma’s mind went blank with shock. It was if she stood, alone, while the world spun around her. Friends and strangers rotating in, asking her questions she could not hear. Journalists and police. Emma dabbed her eyes and looked around for her daughters, drawing them close to her instinctively.

A phrase came to Emma’s mind. “Bitterness is like a fire in the corner of a house which will eventually consume the whole house.” She couldn’t remember where it came from. Maybe it was one of those books she had read while Pio was in detention at Manda. In those first four years of their marriage, Emma read a lot to try to understand the man she had just married. To understand why he fought so hard for a country that was not his. A country that had now betrayed them both.

The light in the house turned to a strange, warm color. Emma turned toward the back door and saw a huge fire burning in the backyard. Two of Pio’s close friends were tossing things into the fire. Both of them were friends who had worked closely with Pio. They knew that, in that tiny bedroom Pio used as an office, there was lots of confidential information. Information that, if discovered, could endanger organizers around the world. Without thinking to ask Emma, they fed everything into the fire. From this point on, whatever Emma had kept, whatever she had set aside in her mind as memories—that would be all she had. Everything else was gone.

Pio was gone.

At one point, Emma was sitting in the living room, still in shock. Fitz de Souza and Joe Murumbi were beside her. Two people carried Pio’s body—still wrapped in that pink blanket—into the living room. They uncovered the blanket.

Emma looked at her husband.

She could see that small, evil hole under his ribs. The only words that came out of her mouth were: “Gosh. Pio looks so pale.”

Fitz looked at the men who brought the body in and, with a tortured look on his face, turned to Emma and said, “Get out. Get out of this room.” He led her away. Their home, Emma and Pio’s home, had become a crime scene. It had become a nightmare.

You can tell what kind of person someone was...by seeing who attends their funeral.

Pio Gama Pinto was buried at City Park Cemetery. On that day, the park was filled with people. Of course there were his friends from politics. Achieng Oneko, his friend from their days in detention on Manda Island. Bildad Kaggia, from their days routing weapons to Mau Mau forest fighters. Oginga Odinga, his staunchest supporter in government, with whom he fought to make Kenya a more equitable, socialist country. Joseph Murumbi, an old friend from Pinto’s days working at the Desai Memorial Library. Fitz de Souza, the young Goan Pinto had welcomed to Nairobi and brought into Kenya’s freedom fight. And many other politicians that, even if they often disagreed, never doubted that Pinto had a pure heart.

But many, many ordinary people also came. Many poor people whom Pinto had helped in their time of need. Many elderly Kikuyu traveled to Nairobi from different parts of Central Province to bid farewell to a man who fought alongside them.

It was a shock to the nation. Kenya had not even been an independent country for two years. And a freedom fighter was killed. He was killed by those who, only just a few years earlier, had fought with him against the British. Killed by his own government.

So this would be how power would be wielded in our new Kenya.

One very important person, a man who used to be a good friend of Pinto, a man whom Pinto had fought to be released from detention and who had visited him in Lodwar—this man was missing from the funeral. President Jomo Kenyatta.

Kenyatta sent an ivory sculpture as a gift. But he did not come.

Who killed Pio Gama Pinto?

The answer to this question...is both very clear and unclear.

Two teenagers were arrested for Pinto’s murder. Chege Thuo and Kisilu Mutua. Both were said to have been near the site of the assasination when it happened.

They were brought before Supreme Court Justice John Ainley and pleaded “not guilty.” Kisilu admitted that he had been paid to scare Pinto. Those who paid him wanted Pinto to stop doing what he was doing—advocating for land justice, socialism, equity. Kisilu testified that he was near the scene of the assassination, but he denied that he was the one who killed Pinto. Kisilu said that, as he approached the Pintos’ house, he heard shots ring out. He saw Pinto collapse in his car—but he couldn’t see who shot him.

None of the ten fingerprints found on Pinto’s car matched Kisilu’s or Thuo’s. Thuo was released. But Chief Justice Ainley said that, while it was plausible that Kisilu didn’t pull the trigger, he had to have known something if he was there at that time and place.

Chief Justice Ainley sentenced Kisilu to be hanged. That sentence was later commuted (changed) to a life sentence. Kisilu spent 36 years in jail. He was released when Moi gave him a presidential pardon.

The last attempt to investigate Pinto’s murder was the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) set up after the post-election violence of 2007-08. The TJRC was built on the idea that, in order for the country to move on past post-election violence, there needed to be true reconciliation. But, in order to have true reconciliation, first you needed to have justice. And you cannot have justice before you know the truth.

So the TJRC began by trying to find out the truth about not only post-election violence, but the many acts of political violence that have occurred throughout Kenya’s history.

And this includes political assassinations. An assassination is not just any murder. It is a planned elimination of a person with a lot of political and symbolic importance. Someone who, if they are “taken out,” will have huge political consequences and send a strong message to the political opposition.

The TJRC classified Pinto’s murder an assassination. It was the first assassination in Kenya’s history as an independent country. The TJRC made four conclusions:

  1. The assassination of Pio Gama Pinto was motivated by ideological differences at the heart of the global Cold War—that is, West versus East. Capitalist versus Socialist.
  2. The conviction of Kisilu Mutua did little to clarify who was actually behind the assassination, and why they ordered it.
  3. Both Kisilu and Thuo were used as scapegoats to distract from those who ordered Pintos’ execution.
  4. “The government was involved in the killing of Pio Gama Pinto.”

But even the TJRC was not able to definitively conduct a proper investigation. Why? Because the evidence that they needed—which definitely exists, for example, the archives of the National Security Intelligence Service—they were denied access to this. The government has information that might lead to the truth about Pio Gama Pinto’s assassination—and that truth might lead towards justice for Pinto’s family—and that justice may finally lead to reconciliation. But the government refused.

“The Commission was not allowed to access many of the documents held by the government that would have assisted in investigations such as this, including the archives of the National Security Intelligence Service.”

But the government’s silence about Pinto’s death, and what they have done to keep others from finding out more about it….these silences speak louder than words.

If there was nothing to hide, then why didn’t the government just hand over the necessary documents to the TJRC? You can tell if the government has something to hide by when they begin to silence those who tell the truth.

There was a man who tried to tell the truth about Pinto. That man was Shiraz Durrani.

And it was because he tried to tell the truth about Pinto that, in 1985, he was sitting on a bus to Arusha. Alone and anxious. Hoping he would be able to make it to London.

During the Moi days, many of the people who believed in and fought for the same things Pinto fought for—socialists like Pinto, or “the Left”—had to go underground. Movements like Mwakenya or the December Twelfth Movement had to organize in secret, to avoid the authoritarian regime. In those days, there were secret police everywhere. You would not even want to talk about Pio Gama Pinto in a bus, because someone might hear you, and then before you know it, you would be visited by police at your home.

At that time, Shiraz Durrani was doing research for another project when he was at the library and stumbled upon a book by Ambu Patel, called Pio Gama Pinto: Independent Kenya’s First Martyr.

[Shiraz Durrani] While looking for some material about it, I came across this book by Ambu Patel, "Independent Kenya's First Martyr: Pio Gama Pinto." And that had a great impact on me, not only in terms of Pinto but the politics of Pinto and what was going on.

Shiraz read it. He was blown away.

He had heard of Pinto’s name, but he had never known Pinto’s story.

[Shiraz Durrani] This book really came as a shock to the system, that this was something totally ignored and not known by many people, and yet this book was sitting in the library.

Shiraz was very involved with the underground movements of resistance against Moi’s authoritarian regime. He understood the dangers of telling a story like Pinto’s. It would almost certainly lead to his arrest or murder.

But this was a time when the resistance movement was getting more and more fractured. Morale was low. “Cells” of resistors were getting disconnected from one another. Organizers were isolated from one another and had no way of communicating with one another.

[Shiraz Durrani] Now around that time in 1982, the time of the coup, a lot of people of the December Twelfth Movement were either arrested or had to go into exile, and that broke a lot of linkages in the organization.

So Shiraz decided he would take a risk. He decided he would do something bold and send a signal to the country that the Left in Kenya was still alive. That the resistance was still here.

What did he decide to do? He wrote an article about Pio Gama Pinto.

[Shiraz Durrani] At that stage, I decided that perhaps I needed to come out a little bit into the open, send it to the Standard—a number of articles, starting with Pinto. To highlight the fact that the Left was still alive, that Pinto was one of the leaders who was ignored, and, hopefully, if it goes out in my name, we would start connecting with people who were in different cells of the December Twelfth Movement. The Pinto [article] was in two parts, and they put a lot of pictures. And it got a big splash.

We already know what happened to Shiraz when the story came out. He had to flee his own country. His application for political asylum was granted by the UK. He had fled the country for writing about Pio Gama Pinto. So he thought:

[Shiraz Durrani] So why should I now stop writing about him? I was now out of the country. I lost everything that I had there, and so I continued writing.

Shiraz kept writing. He kept collecting documents. Collecting letters written to Pinto, articles and memos written about him by people who knew him. Interviews with Emma. Ten years. Twenty years, he kept collecting. Thirty years. For almost forty years he worked on this.

Just last year, in 2019, Shiraz Durrani published the book Pio Gama Pinto: Kenya’s Unsung Martyr.

Then, in 2020, a young community organizer in Mathare was browsing at the Ukombozi Library in town, when he came across that book. He had heard of Pinto’s name, but he had never known Pinto’s story.

He read it. He was blown away.

This organizer’s name is Stoneface. The rest is history.

[Stoneface] So, April. We’ve reached the end.

[April] Mhm. This has been a journey. We’ve come far. I’m just thinking back to that first day when all of this started. Do you remember? We were at Ukombozi Library in town—actually that was my first time there, and you’d been saying for a long time that we needed to go, we needed to go—so we went. And of course it was wonderful. Yeah and your bro John Clinton was there. Then, after that, the three of us decided to walk from town to City Park Cemetery, to see the grave of Pio Gama Pinto and pay our respects. I can't remember why we had decided that?

[Stoneface] Ah it was because the time before, I was carrying that book by Shiraz Durrani about Pinto. And we were talking about, we should do something, maybe a radio story or something...

[April] Ah right yeah I remember.

[Stoneface] So we went to City Park since it wasn't so far from town.

[April] Yeah, and where was that?

[Stoneface] Pinto's grave is at the Murumbi Peace Memorial, inside City Park Cemetery. You know, Joseph Murumbi never forgave himself for persuading Pinto to come back to Nairobi. You remember, when they were at the beach house? And Pio was about to flee from the country, but Murumbi told him to stay, that it wasn't a big deal. Murumbi blamed himself for Pio's death. He never forgave himself. Even years after Pio died, every time someone would even mention his name, Murumbi would break into tears. He was never the same after that day.

Every year, on 24 February, 1965, Murumbi and his wife Sheila would go to City Park to lay flowers at Pio's grave. Often, there would already be flowers there, laid by other people. But, eventually, the flowers became fewer and fewer. The people who knew Pio fled the country, or died. Time passed.

[April] Well, I guess that's why we were there, no? [yeah] This reminds me of a quote by Milan Kundera which is painted on the walls inside the Mathare Social Justice Centre. It's a quote from his book "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting." He writes: "The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." Yaani [the quote, in sheng].

[Stoneface] Right, this is like what we talked about in Episode 2, the one about Mau Mau. History is sanitized. And history is sanitized by those in power. When we don't know the full history, and we only know the sanitized version, we forget. And that's how they hold on to power.

[April] Say more.

[Stoneface] So, for example, take Mau Mau. The sanitized version we all know is that they fought for freedom against the British, and then somehow the British left and Kenya is free, meaning they won.

[April] Mhm.

[Stoneface] But the unsanitized version is that Mau Mau didn't just fight the British. They fought and killed home guards. They fought and killed chiefs, Africans who the British had put in positions of power to control the population. The unsanitized version is that the Mau Mau fought for land—and they never got the land. The land went from white hands into black hands. And the way that wealth is generated from that land, that never changed at all.

[April] And so, using your example, if we forget what the Mau Mau fought for, then when those in power, the elite, tell us that Kenya is independent, and to thank the Mau Mau for giving us that independence, we believe them.

[Stoneface] —instead of pointing a finger at THEM and saying no, man, YOU are the new homeguard. The Mau Mau fought AGAINST people like you. And we are still going to fight against people like you. You are not our leaders. You are our oppressors. You are our enemies.

[April] And that's so powerful.

[Stoneface] Right. And this "remembering"—or knowing the truth—might seem like a small thing. Like, some people might say, can I eat truth? Will truth pay my rent? But, we need to realize that "remembering" and truth are the foundation of any kind of freedom. You cannot take even a single step forward towards liberation, if you cannot see that you are oppressed.

[April] Hm, ok, say more?

[Stoneface] So there was this time that I was just walking around and these youths called me over. They were like, Stoneface Steonface, come here. I went and saw that they had received a mkokoteni from some MCA or whatever. This guy gave them a mkokoteni and some jerry cans, and they were so happy. They said, look, now we can go fetch water!

I looked at them and said, how dare you. Why didn't you sit down with this MCA and ask him why Mathare doesn't have water in the first place. In this modern age, in our city of Nairobi, where we are not in a desert, why must people still "fetch" water? Where he lives, there is water for sure. For an MCA to have the audacity to "buy" you with a cheap mkokoteni? You should have chased them out!

[April] Sorry!

[Stoneface] But, the bottom line is, these youths didn't even see that they were oppressed. They were blind. They had, in a way, "forgotten." It is only when you understand history that you can understand power. And ONLY THEN—only then—can you begin to rise up and fight for true freedom. Otherwise you'll continue to run in circles, celebrating and thanking your oppressors for throwing you crumbs.

[April] By the way. That is an important point: "remembering," the way that we're talking about it here, a political "remembering," isn't just a passive process. Like sitting in a chair with your hands on your lap, closing your eyes, and thinking far back into history. No, Remembering is an active process. Us producing this podcast was an act of remembering. Hours spent at the library. Researching. Interviewing people who lived through it.

Using your mkokoteni example... if the youths understood the history of Mathare, or the history of Eastlands in general, then they would understand why water does not reach Mathare. Then they would understand why the poor in ghettos actually pay ten to twenty times more for water than those who get city water in rich places. Then, if some MCA tried to bribe their support with a mkokoteni, they wouldn't celebrate him. Maybe they would spit in his face.

[Stoneface] There are many different ways to get to freedom. But, before we can make a single move, it begins with "remembering." Consciousness. "The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

[April] I feel that knowing history can also expand people's imaginations.

[Stoneface] What do you mean by that?

[April] Like, I'm thinking about the Nairobi General Strike of 1950. From Episode 5. And how that's been almost completely forgotten.

Like when you talk to people about, oh we should organize or we should resist, or we should do this or that, they'll often say, oh but you know. This Kenya. This government. It is not possible.

[Stoneface] Yeah.

[April] But then, you look at what people were able to do in 1950. A time before there was internet. Imagine, the messages being passed around were being relayed by cab drivers! And workers were able to come together and bring the city to a standstill. For almost two weeks.

[Stoneface] And not just workers, actually. Most of the people who took part in the strike were the unemployed, the landless, the Africans who lived in Eastlands. Outcast Nairobi brought the city to a standstill.

[April] Exactly. So, what I mean by expand imaginations is, if this was possible in 1950....well, things are different now in 2020. A lot of things might make something like that more difficult. But a lot of things might make it easier. At the very least, we can't say, oh something like that could never happen in Kenya. It did. It happened, and it was Outcast Nairobi that made it happen.

[Stoneface] I think we forget too how, even in the 1960s, there was so much collaboration happening between people struggling for liberation all around the world. Like, remember, Malcolm X came to Nairobi. This was in Episode 6. He came to Nairobi, and when he went back to the US, he told Black Americans about Mau Mau. And how they needed to have their own Mau Mau.

[April] Right, at that time, there was so much that people were learning from each other across continents—at a time before internet. Imagine now, with the tools we have... what we could do.

[Stoneface] If organizers here in mathare were talking to organizers in the US, or Hong Kong....

[April] Exactly. We can't say it is not possible. But it's not as if, up until 1963, Kenya had all of these freedom fighters and now we just have normal people. There have always been people who fought for freedom.

[Stoneface] We should not look at these fallen heroes and shake our heads saying, “This Kenya,” as if it was always meant to be this way. As if being Kenyan means being unfree. No. It is the opposite. Even before Kenya was a country, from the time that there were people who were not free, there were people fighting for that freedom.

We are a people of freedom fighters.

Not only the Mau Mau who engineered their own guns in the forest and spilled their blood for this country. But also Outcast Nairobi, who brought the city to a standstill in the 1950 Nairobi General Strike, to demand better. Or the Kikuyu mbari whom Pinto helped to fight to get their land back through legal means. Or the Africans who started their own newspapers in Kikamba, Gikuyu, Maragoli, Dholuo, and many, many other languages, to give people the language for their oppression—in their own language.

All of these people were freedom fighters. Not all of them fought with weapons. But all of them reached a moment that made them realized that they were not free. That they were suffering. And they realized that those in power were not going to save them. Rather, those in power were the ones responsible for their suffering. No one was going to save them. They had to join together and organize themselves.

Our oppressors will not save us. All we have is each other. All we have is each other, and yet, all we need is each other.

Pio Gama Pinto’s fight continues... until everyone is free.

We are not free….until every single one of us is free.

Special thanks to Linda Gama Pinto. It was an honor to share space with Emma Gama Pinto before she passed in October 2020.


De Souza, Fitzval. Forward to Independence: My Memoirs. 2018.

Durrani, Shiraz, editor. Pio Gama Pinto: Kenya’s Unsung Martyr. Vita Books, 2018.

Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission, "Final Report - TJRC Report" (2013).

Odinga, Jaramogi Oginga. Not Yet Uhuru. Heinemann Educational Books, 1967.

Episode 1. Wapi Uhuru?
Episode 2. Mau Mau Ally
Episode 3. Land Justice Advocate

Episode 4. Radical Journalist
Episode 5. Trade Unionist
Episode 6. Political Mastermind

Episode 7. Martyr

“Kenya’s uhuru must not be transformed into freedom to exploit, or freedom to be hungry and live in ignorance. Uhuru must be uhuru for the masses—uhuru from exploitation, from ignorance, disease and poverty.”

Pio Gama Pinto