Political biography of Ronald Gideon Ngala
This is a biographical study of Ronald Gideon Ngala, who became a prominent leader in Kenya He was born in 1922 at Gotani, in present day Kilifi District. He attended his primary and secondary schools at Kaloleni Church Missionary Society Station and Alliance High School respectively, before going on to Makerere College in Kampala, Uganda. As will be observed in this work, Ngala's contribution to the process of decolonization and nation-building in post-independence Kenya was immense. He belonged to the political group of the African educated elite, who established a new political tradition in Kenya's nationalist struggle to counter imperialism and colonialism. Equiped with this political tradition of negotiation and persuasion, Ngala and his group created the right conditions within which independence was handed over to the African majority. Ngala joined politics in 1957 as the first African Legislative Council (LEGCO) Member for Coast Province. In Legco and in public, he was a central participant in the subsequent constitutional advances. In 1958, while enjoying his colleague's confidence and respect, Ngala was elected secretary to the African t Elected Members Organization [AEMO], where he performed his duties without imposing his personal views at the expense of the solidarity of his group. However, in the wake of political divisions among the African Members of Legco in 1959 and the subsequent fears and jealousies that were nursed by the minority groups, Ngala stood out as a moderate among the nationalists. His moderation was seen clearly when he involved himself in the multi-racial politics of 1959, which were European-initiated and said to dilute the African struggle. The subsequent Kiambu Leaders Conference of May 1960 which led to the formation of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), was the climax of the political divisions: the minority groups explicitly lamented Kikuyu-Luo domination of Kenyan politics arJ •• Ngala became their rallying force. This led to the formation of Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) in June 1960 as a counterweight to KANU. The result of this was a jostling for safegaurds entrenched in the subsequent constitutions to suit KANU and KADU. As shown in this work, Ngala was a central figure in the negotiations for an independence constitution. Accordingly, he secured for his adherents and, indeed, for Kenya a Regionalist type of constitution which was the constitution with which Kenya walked into independence in 1963. He was the first leader of the postindependence opposition, where he acted as the litmus paper for the government; helping it redirect or rethink: its plans and policies. It is in this light that the government had to revise its first development plan. With the political odds against him, Ngala dissolved KADU in November 1964 and joined KANU with the aim of acquiring the national stature that seems to have eluded him in the first year of independence. However, his bid for a prominent pl~e. in Kenyatta's government and the t party did not escape the opposition of the Arab-Swahili, who considered Ngala an intruder into the politics of Mombasa Moreover, those , like Msanifu Kombo, who had been in KANU since its inception did not want to be led by a former KADU man. Equally, with Mboya's star declining by 1968, Ngala's meteoric rise was also -.; '~ to be checked given that he (Ngala) had been Mboya's supporter since 1965. This strategy was a source of consistent frustration to Ngala and his supporters through intimidation, threats and sponsorship of Ngala's opponents by up-country politicians. However, with the strong mandate and following he enjoyed at the Coast, coupled with his shrewdness in confronting his opponents he was able to win. for himself a national stature after independence and to survive many political crises at the Coast. Unfortunately he died in a mysterious accident in 1972, an accident that raised eyebrows.