Gitobu Imanyara Biography
Gitobu Imanyara was born in is in 1954.He is a Kenyan human rights lawyer, journalist, and politician. In the 2013 general elections he was an aspirant senator for Meru county. G.I. as he is commonly known by his friends across the globe was in the forefront of the democratic struggles that characterized Kenyan politics during the previous KANU regime of President Daniel arap Moi.
Started 1978 : Graduate Student of Kenya School of Law
1974 – 1977 : Undergraduate Student of University of Nairobi (LLB with honours)
1968 – 1973 : Secondary School Student of Nairobi School, Kenya (‘O’ & ‘A’ Levels, Marsabit House Prefect )
Started 13th February 2013 : Coalition Member of Coalition for Reforms & Democracy
Started 14th January 2013 : Member for Meru of Orange Democratic Movement
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2012 → 4th March 2013 : Aspirant Senator for Meru county
2008 → 4th March 2013 : Member of Parliament for Central Imenti
2007 → 14th January 2013 : party leader of Chama Cha Uzalendo
2007 → 14th January 2013 : Member of Chama Cha Uzalendo
1997 → 2002 : Member of Parliament of The Great Lakes Parliamentary Forum on Peace
1997 → 2002 : Member of Parliament for Central Imenti Member of Parliament
1990 → 2002 : Founding Secretary General of Ford Kenya
Started 1991 : of World Association’s Golden Pen of Freedom(Paris)
Started 1990 : Founding Publisher and Editor in Chief of Nairobi Law Monthly
Started 1979 : Advocate of the High Court of Kenya of High Court of Kenya
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Ongoing of Harvard University’s Nieman Fellow’s Louis M Lyons Award(USA)
1990 → 2000 : International Board Member of Article 19
1991 → 1991 : Laureate of Liberal (Switzerland)
1991 → 1991 : International’s Prize of Freedom Laureate of World Association’s Golden Pen of Freedom (Paris)
1991 → 1991 : Human Rights Award of Int. Human Rights Law Group (Washington)
1990 → 1990 : International Editor of the Year of World Press Review (New York)
Repeatedly arrested and harassed, he never showed any sign of relenting in his protest against what he termed as the erosion of rights guaranteed in the Kenyan constitution.
In 1987, Gitobu Imanyara spent two years in the dreaded Kamiti Maximum Security Prison on trumped-up charges.
It was during his life in Kamiti that he founded the monthly journal, The Nairobi Law Monthly; described as “one of the boldest publications in Africa in the late twentieth century.”
With Imanyara as the Chief Editor and Publisher, the magazine became a forum for public debate on the crisis that were facing constitution and human rights in Kenya.
Within no time, the journal earned the wrath of the KANU government leading to the arrest and detention of Imanyara. But unknowingly to both President Moi and his associates, harassment of Imanyara only made the magazine the conscience of the Kenyan Nation. In the late 90’s The Nairobi Law Monthly earned a reputation worldwide for its objectivity, depth, thoroughness and feeling in its coverage of human and constitutional rights.
In 1990, Imanyara boldly confronted the dictatorial Moi regime with a special issue of The Nairobi Law Monthly entitled “The Historic Debate: Law, Democracy and Multi-party Politics in Kenya.” Even before a quarter of the issue had sold, Imanyara was arrested and held incommunicado in a prison psychiatric ward. Upon his release after both local and international pressure and undaunted by his continued harassment, Imanyara republished the “historic debate” issue leading to his immediate arrest and detention. He was later to be charged with sedition charges. It while he was in prison that the World Press Review named him the 1990 International Editor of the Year.
In 1991 and after being named the Louis Lyons winner, Imanyara sent a strong message to his tormentors in the KANU regime warning them “ we shall continue to provide the forum through which Kenyans may debate the kind of society they want to live in.” His passport was immediately confiscated and he was denied any chance of traveling outside Kenya.
Imanyara was once a subject of a heated discussion in the United States of America House of Representative. On Friday, July 20th 1990, Hon. John M. Spratt JR asked the then USA President George Bush Snr, that the government of USA consider economic sanctions against the Moi regime due to continued harassment and detention of Imanyara. Hon. Spratt had previously written to President Moi asking basic questions about Imanyara’s fate and as expected, he got no reply. It had became a habit for the Moi regime to view any comment made by Hon. Imanyara as dangerous and subversive.
In elective politics, Imanyara has over the years surprised many. In 1992 during the first multi-party elections in Kenya, he vied for Imenti Central seat on FORD-K ticked but lost narrowly. He however went ahead to become one of the boldest voices of reason outside parliament. In 1997 elections he trounced the then Energy Minister in the Moi regime to win the Imenti seat. In 2002 and at the height of the NARC euphoria, Hon. Imanyara refused to join the NARC bandwagon due to his strong ideological ideas and opted to defend his seat on an SDP ticket. The move cost him his seat as his long time rival Kirugi Mukindia trounced him.
But if there is a politician in Kenya fond of pulling surprises, then Gitobu Imanyara perfectly fits that description. Amidst the ODM, PNU waves in Kenya during the 2007 elections, Imanyara went ahead to join the little known party CCU. His critics wrote him off while his friends sympathized with him due to his choice of party. Apparently, Imenti Central falls in the greater Meru region and was viewed as a PNU stronghold.
Undeterred, Imanyara easily trounced the more than ten opponents and was subsequently declared the winner. His first task in the current parliament was to battle it for the Deputy Speaker seat. He however withdrew after the first voting and his opponent but one time ally Farah Maalim was declared the winner.
Truly, Hon. Gitobu Imanyara was not only the boldest voice for a free press in a country whose intolerant government never hesitated to shut down publications and where most journalist practiced self censorship but also an accomplished politician whom you can never ignore.
Gitobu Imanyara Family and Children
Gitobu Imanyara is married to Florence Imanyara and together they are blessed with two sons; Marangu Imanyara and Mutuma Imanyara.
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