Bildad Kaggia belonged to a breed of uncompromising Kenyans who were determined to kick the white man out of this country, no matter the cost. Kaggia was a World War II veteran and had witnessed British soldiers being killed. Like other veterans whose worldview had changed, he started agitating armed struggle against the colonial regime.
Bitter with the colonial government, and wary of moderate leaders, Kaggia actively served the East African Trade Union Congress, organising general strikes in 1947.
The colonial government responded by banning EATUC in 1950. Kaggia and other militants took over moribund Kenya African Union (KAU) offices and started mass oathing in Nairobi.
Kaggia and other militants such as Fred Kubai were contemptuous of KAU moderates, whom they warned of dire consequences if they continued disowning Mau Mau’s violent campaign.
Ironically when Operation Jock Stock was executed on October 20, 1952, Kaggia was among the people who were arrested and ended up being tried together with the likes of Kenyatta.
After Kenya gained independent in 1963, Kaggia clashed with Kenyatta for not kicking out all the British expatriates and settlers who remained in the White Highlands. He was also opposed to the government’s land policy of selling land on the open market on willing buyer, willing seller basis, when the land had been stolen from the people. For his strident stance, Kaggia was sacked from the cabinet in 1964.
In 1969, when Jaramogi Oginga Odinga quit Kanu to form his own party, the Kenya Peoples Union, Kaggia was his point man in Central Province. He lost his seat as the MP for Kandara and became a pariah after Kenyatta used the government machinery to crush him.
He remained in political obscurity until his death in March 2005, but a towering figure in the nation’s history, one whose life was guided by lofty ideals, not self-aggrandisement of a few.