Charles Rubia: Inside The Tumultuous Life of Moi’s Minister

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A past photo of former President Jomo Kenyatta and Nairobi mayor Charles Rubia

On Monday, December 23, Kenyans received the sad news that Nairobi’s first-ever Mayor Charles Rubia, who also worked as former President Daniel Moi’s minister, had passed on.

During the nine decades that the late minister had been alive, he suffered the worst forms of torture that compelled him, through his lawyer Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, to seek for a compensation of Ksh40 billion.

According to a report by the Daily Nation, Rubia was among leaders who were detained by Moi after advocating for the multi-party system that the country currently enjoys.

A past photo of former President Jomo Kenyatta and former Nairobi Mayor Charles Rubia

In the court application made in July 2019, the former mayor detailed the torture he suffered while in detention in order to justify the Ksh40 billion compensation.

So severe was the torture, as he detailed, that his wife broke down from the effects and died. He further noted that his children were profiled by employers despite having qualified for positions.

Rubia was arrested in 1987 and accused of funding Mwakenya Movement that reportedly imported guns in an attempt to stage a coup against the government.

He was taken to Nyayo House where he was tortured for five days straight before being released without charges being levelled against him.

In 1988, he was reportedly rigged out of the elections. In 1990, he joined forces with former Minister Stanley Matiba for a conference urging the state to allow multi-party politics.

He was later arrested in July 1990, while preparing for another rally and detained for nine months.

It was at the detention that he faced some of the lowest moments in his life. He reported being forced to sleep on cold floors while half-naked.

He was also denied a lawyer. The conditions were so rough that doctors from The Nairobi Hospital asked the prison staff to attend with urgency.

“Thereafter, he underwent vigorous and prolonged treatment in Kenya and London. Despite this, the petitioner was left with severe disabilities in his speech among others.

“To date, the petitioner continues to receive treatment and shall continue to do so for the rest of his life,” read the documents in part.

Rubia served as an MP, and assistant minister between 1969 and 1978 before becoming a minister (1979 – 1988). 

In his suit, the former lawmaker was seeking Ksh5 billion as compensation for general damages, Ksh5 billion as compensation for exemplary/moral damages, Ksh20 billion as compensation for all medical costs and Ksh10 billion for general relief.

Kenneth Matiba (left) and Charles Rubia who held a presser in 1990 urging the government to embrace multi-party politics.
Late ministers Kenneth Matiba (left) and Charles Rubia who held a presser in 1990 urging the government to embrace multi-party politics.

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