As Kenyans plan to usher in 2024, it is an understatement to say 2023 was an eventful year.
From the arrests of rogue clergymen, King Charles’s visit to the country and Kenya winning the joint bid to host the 2027 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), the year was packed with lots of activity.
Kenyans.co.ke takes a look at some key events that shaped the conversation.
A photo collage of Paul Mackenzie (left) and security officers exhuming bodies at Shakahola Village in Kilifi County.
A self-proclaimed man of God, Pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie of the Good News International Church led a cult movement that claimed more than 300 people who were buried in mass graves in Kilifi.
Makenzie who is facing terrorist-related charges prodded his congregants against seeking medical attention or allowing children to go to school claiming that would prevent them from meeting Jesus.
Pastor Ezekiel Odero of the New Life Church would later be arrested over links to Mackenzie.
However, Pastor Ezekiel’s case was dropped after the DPP ordered the case closed over insufficient evidence.
Azimio Anti-Government Protests
After opposition leader Raila Odinga and President William Ruto failed to agree on a raft of issues including the cost of living and auditing of the 2022 election results, the former called for protests which quickly became an avenue for Kenyans to vent their frustrations.
Unlike previous years where the protests were restricted to Raila’s political bastion, this year’s protests gained traction in more areas including Ukambani.
The protests quickly turned violent leading to the deaths of more than 100 Kenyans in different parts of the country leading to condemnation from human rights bodies such as Amnesty International.
The protests, also threatened national stability prompting religious leaders to step in and demand the two leaders to sit down and engage in dialogue.
Ruto and Raila have since ceded to the demands and have committed to implement a report authored by the National Dialogue Committee.
King Charles Visit
King Charles III and Queen Camilla of Britain coming to Kenya for a four-day state visit is a major highlight this year.
The royalties made their maiden trip to Africa in a visit that further lifted Kenya’s diplomatic profile on the global stage.
While confirming the trip, Buckingham Palace said the royals’ visit would go a long way in deepening the relationship between the two countries.
“Their Majesties’ programme will reflect how Kenya and the United Kingdom are working together, notably to boost mutual prosperity, tackle climate change, promote youth opportunity and employment, advance sustainable development and create a more stable and secure region,” Buckingham Palace said.
While in Kenya the King and the queen visited Nairobi, Mombasa County and its environs.
King Charles III (left) and President William Ruto pay respects at Uhuru Gardens’ Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, commemorating lives lost in wars and Kenya’s fight for independence on October 31, 2023.
Although King Charles acknowledged the atrocities committed by British authorities in the colonial era, he declined to issue an apology over the same.
“The wrongdoings of the past are a cause of the greatest sorrow and the deepest regret. There were abhorrent and unjustifiable acts of violence committed against Kenyans as they waged, as you said at the United Nations a painful struggle for independence and sovereignty—and for that, there can be no excuse.” King Charles III noted.
“In coming back to Kenya, it matters greatly to me that I should deepen my own understanding of these wrongs, and that I meet some of those whose lives and communities were so grievously affected.” He affirmed.
Kenya Winning Joint Bid to Host AFCON
Three East African countries, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania won the rights to host the biggest tournament in the continent beating Senegal, Botswana and Egypt.
Following the successful bid, Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba announced that his Ministry will revamp Kasarani Stadium, Nyayo Stadium, and Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret to international standards in readiness for the showpiece event.
However, months later, Governors from the Nyanza and Western regions alleged that the government was planning to leave out the region from hosting some of the AFCON matches.
“The UDA government has announced that the AFCON 2027 football matches shall be held in Nairobi and Eldoret. This in our view, is a tragic decision. Western Kenya should have been included with either matches being held in Kisumu of Kakamega,” a statement issued by Governor Nyong’o read .
Haiti Peace Mission
Similarly, during the year, The United Nations Security Council voted in favour of Kenya leading a peace and security restoration mission in Haiti.
Despite a court order blocking the Kenyan government sending police to the gang-ravaged country, Parliament still went ahead and approved the mission to crack down on gangs in the Caribbean Nation.
In the plan, Kenyan police will be deployed to restore peace and protect key government infrastructure and investments.
The United States is backing the mission to the tune of Ksh15.3 billion ($100 million).
President William Ruto’s administration faced backlash after fronting the Finance Bill which proposed different taxes including the contentious Housing Levy and, the inclusion of VAT on fuel.
The Bill was seeking to expand the taxation base to fund Kenya Kwanza’s ambitious manifesto.
A section of Kenyans including civil societies argued that the Finance Bill was punitive as it would cause the cost of commodities to go up as a ripple effect of the fuel taxes.
Busia County Senator Okiya Omtatah, the Law Society of Kenya and others moved to court challenging the Finance Act, saying that it was unconstitutional.
The High Court has since issued a ruling declaring the Housing Levy unconstitutional.
National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah has however, tabled a new bill to constitutionalise the Housing Levy.
Kenyan Athletes Shine on the Global Stage
Faith Kipyegon who has since been conferred the highest civilian honour, the Elder of the Golden Heart stunned the world after breaking two world records within one week in June.
The 29-year-old broke the world record in the 5,000-meter race in women at the Diamond League in Paris clocking 14 minutes, 5.20 seconds, a week after becoming the fastest woman ever over 1,500 meters in Florence.
Similarly, Kelvin Kiptum, another Kenyan athlete became the fastest man in the world in October after he shattered Eliud Kipchoge’s world record.
Kiptum smashed the record at the Chicago Marathon clocking 2:00:35.
An image of Faith Kipyegon at the World Championships in Oregon on July 19, 2022.