Yesterday the nation was treated to a rare and unfortunate news about the chaos that erupted in one of the best Universities; Kenyatta University. Being an institution that has enjoyed years of peace since 2008 when a similar incident was witnessed, this latest incident was rather untimely and ill-motivated.
On Wednesday, the students blocked Thika Super-Highway and engaged the anti-riot police in running battles which lasted for several hours thereby causing traffic snarl up in a rather free and peaceful highway. The security officers who were drawn from Ruiru (GSU-REECE squad is base), Ruaraka (GSU-HQ’s) and Kahawa Barracks had to hurl teargas grenades at the angry students to disperse them
The riots erupted after the administration, which some students accused of taking sides in the elections, disqualified one of the frontrunners, Sammy Owino in the polls which were to be held yesterday. The motive behind that unpopular decision was that he is accused of inciting students via the media, causing chaos at Ruiru, and failing to show up and answer the questions with regards to the accusations.
Some students, however, feel that the administration was abusing its powers by interfering with the polls in a manner that was likely to favor another candidate by the name Thuku. They insist that Sammy was poised to win the lections with a landslide victory and went further to accuse Thuku of engaging in election malpractices like voter bribery, which they didn’t take lightly.
The state of normalcy was regained on Wednesday but tension was still high within the University even with the security personnel on standby. On Thursday, chaos broke out and this time it was more organized and serious. They destroyed property of an unknown value with some saying that the damage could be in terms of millions of shillings. Some of the notable places that were destroyed are; Nyayo Mess, Tuck-shops which suffered massive looting, glass windows and doors and hostel doors. It’s still unclear but speculations are that some female students were raped amidst the chaos.
As at now, majority of students are at home as some claim that the situation is not yet favorable and staying within the institution could still expose them to more risks like injuries which some of their friends had suffered. It’s also believed that over twelve students were arrested during the riots by the police and taken to the nearby police station for questioning.
Scenes like these have become common in the institutions of Higher learning, with the easiest example one can give being our own Moi University which experienced minor fights among students of different political sides in the last election. The last two months have seen universities like Technical University of Mombasa and Kimathi University being sent home after holding demonstrations over issues that they feel should be addressed by their university management. Could it be that the University administrators no longer listen to comrades’ opinion? Or are we just witnessing a rebirth of a new style of student activism?