Kenya Govt’s Untold Sins: Killing of Bishop Alexander Muge in a Staged Car Accident

Bishop Alexander Muge
  • The Mafia-style murders and assassinations that are a major cog in Western thriller plots are not fancy fictional creations of some overzealous movie producer.

    They happen in real life, all too often. And, sometimes, closer home than you may think.

    The trick is to stage a murder as an accident. A house may catch fire and an entire family gets wiped out. Intentional drowning accidents in private swimming pools, et al. A frequent choice remains the road accident scene.

    On 14th August 1990, a grisly  road accident on the Nairobi-Eldoret Highway was profiled as a singular entry into the daily quota of road accidents on this stretch.

    Outspoken Anglican Bishop Alexander Muge, aged 44 years, lost his life in an accident, that was in essence an assassination.

    This was revealed by a former intelligence officer in an inquest formed by the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC).

    The Background

    The country’s political scene in the late 1980s was volatile, picture a field lined with mines. The former president Daniel Moi had the grip of power, in a one-party rule system – Kenya African National Union (KANU).

    There was a push to amend the constitution to allow a multi-party political system, an independent judiciary, protection of tenure for the Attorney General and Auditor-General, a secret ballot for elections, and a limit on the tenure of office for the president to two five-year terms.

    The church joined the call to push the KANU government. They urged President Moi to dissolve parliament, convene a national constitutional conference and hold free and fair elections.

    Countrywide political demonstrations erupted in July – headlined by campus students. This birthed a government crackdown – random arrests and detention of the most vocal critics and later charging them with sedition.

    Bishop Alexander Muge was then leading Eldoret Anglican Diocese, and with his colleague Bishop John Okullu of Maseno South outrightly called out President Moi, to step down and declare fresh elections.

    At the time, the clergy had a countrywide schedule of public rallies – Nyanza Province, was next.

    President Moi had uncanny tricks to deal with critics. He used agents and political henchmen. 

    On 12 Aug 1990, then Labour Minister Peter Okondo served a stern warning to the clergymen:

    That, should either of the bishops enter Busia district “they will see fire and may not leave alive.â€

    Bishop Muge held a press conference the following day and said:

    “Let [Okondo] know that my innocent blood will haunt him forever and he will not be at peace for God does not approve murder.â€

    The good bishop unwisely ignored that order and visited Busia. On his way back, he got into an accident near Kipkaren, in Uasin Gishu district. He died on the spot – the date was 14th August 1990. His driver survived.

    To add more credence to the supposed accident, the driver was subsequently charged with dangerous driving and jailed for seven years. He died in his fifth year behind bars.

    On March 5, 2012, TJRC inquest interviewed Ex-cop James Lando Khwatenge, who at the time of the bishop’s death worked with the Special Branch in Eldoret. On the fateful day, he’d been tasked to trail the bishop’s vehicle.

    Bishop Alexander Muge
    An undated image of Bishop Alexander Muge’s late wife (file images)

    He revealed that officers were sent directly from Nairobi to “finish†the outspoken bishop. He further said that the police trailing him immediately called Nairobi contacts to confirm the mission had been successful.

    The officer said that the Bishop’s murder was the last job in a long list of assassinations in what police called Operation Shika Msumari.

    More intriguing, is that the bishop’s death had a twist in it. The former agent revealed that KANU loyalists already disgruntled by the clergy’s activism picked up on threats issued by Labour Minister Okondo and assassinated him.

    The minister became the scapegoat although was a practising Moi sycophant.