Argwings Kodhek

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The English-trained lawyer was a pillar in Kenya’s liberation struggle who the colonialists loved to hate. His decision to study law so incensed the colonial government which wanted him to study teaching, they terminated his scholarship after only one year, forcing his family to sell their livestock so as to fund his education.

Upon graduation, Kodhek forfeited an opportunity to start a legal career in England, opting to return home and defend those who needed him, like the Mau Mau fighters, usually at no pay. This was after leaving his job as a legal officer in the colonial government.

That was not all: Kodhek also married a European woman, debunking the myth of racial superiority that the colonialists had propounded for generations.

He was no political novice either; he founded the Nairobi Congress Political Party to rival the Peoples Convention Party founded by the indefatigable Tom Mboya.

Realising his potential and immense popularity, the colonial government passed a law stipulating that Africans could only form parties whose membership was confined to a single district.

When Mau Mau detainees were massacred in Hola, Kodhek used his contacts in London, among them Labour Members of Parliament to expose the horrors of colonialism, and which marked the beginning of the end of the empire.

After independence in 1963, Kodhek was elected the first Gem MP and subsequently appointed to the cabinet. His bright career in public service was cut short in a road accident in 1969. The road where he perished in Kilimani, Nairobi, still bears his name.