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Did Kiambu governor Wamatangi publicly ‘lecture’ Kenya’s deputy president Gachagua? No, his speech was taken out of context

IN SHORT: Captions to a video on social media showing a speech by Kiambu governor, Kimani Wamatangi, claim that he was “openly lecturing” the deputy president. But more context of the governor’s speech and other speeches during the event do not support this claim.

A video posted on Facebook on 30 May 2023 allegedly shows Kiambu county governor Kimani Wamatangi “lecturing” Kenya’s deputy president Rigathi Gachagua

Kiambu is located about 17 kilometres from the capital, Nairobi.

The video’s caption in the Kikuyu language, which is widely spoken in Kenya, can be loosely translated to: “Governor Wamatangi tells deputy president Gachagua that a poor man’s child is what is called Mungiki and urges him to protect them.”

In the video, the governor appears to be addressing a congregation in a church.


The Mungiki gang

The Mungiki group started out as a religious group inspired by the Mau Mau rebellion and focused on Kikuyu traditional culture. It later became a gang involved in various illegal activities, such as extortion and illegal taxation. 

The group mainly consisted of young adults from the central region of Kenya and operated in the same areas. The group was outlawed by the government in 2002. Extrajudicial killings of suspected members of the gang were reported during government crackdowns, leading to concern over human rights violations. There have been occasional reports of the gang’s possible resurgence, especially during politically charged periods.

But was Kiambu governor lecturing the deputy president over labelling youths from poor backgrounds as gang members? We checked.

Video context

In the clip, the governor can be heard addressing the deputy president and making several points. He first talks about groups “which are usually mentioned”, such as the Mungiki and others. 

He says there is no child of a high-ranking politician who has ever been a part of such groups because their members are always children of the poor. He talks of the pain of being persecuted for lack of wealth, and references Gachagua’s arrest in 2021. 

Wamatangi then talks about young people who were murdered in the past and how their bodies were dumped in a nearby forest. He says mothers would seek his help to protect their children who had been threatened with murder. He is likely alluding to the extrajudicial killings of suspected Mungiki members.

Original video taken out of context

A search of related keywords on YouTube leads to this longer video of the political speeches during the event. Gachagua and Wamatangi, who are both members of the ruling United Democratic Party, attended the event. 

The tone and content of the governor’s speech does not indicate that he was lecturing the deputy president. In fact, earlier in his speech, Wamatangi commended the deputy president for good leadership, and later reassured Gachagua that he and the other elected leaders were fully in support of president William Ruto and his deputy. He even referenced Gachagua’s arrest during the previous government’s leadership as an example of persecution.  

Other political leaders at the event had raised concerns over a possible revival of the Mungiki gang. This aligns with Wamatangi’s speech regarding illegal gang membership and consequences. In a part not included in the circulating video, the governor mentioned that victims of alcohol abuse in the region were mainly the poor. He said he believed Gachagua was a godsent solution to the challenges in the region.

No notable media stations reported any instances of Wamatangi "lecturing" Gachagua. On 30 May, Gachagua organised a reconciliation meeting between the governor and other leaders in the county, where he reportedly helped prevent a looming motion to impeach Wamatangi.

There can be nuances in political speech, but given the full context of the various speeches and the relationship between the two leaders before and after the event, it is not accurate to say the Kiambu governor was lecturing the deputy president.

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