Meet Hezekiah Ochukah, soldier who ruled Kenya for six hours

If you ask anyone, they will tell you that since independence, Kenya has had four presidents. And they would be very correct because they don’t consider Hezekiah Ochukah as one of them.

What they may not tell you is that sometimes in 1982, a man called Hezekiah Ochukah was the Kenyan leader for a period of six hours.

Born on 23rd July 1953, Hezekiah Rahala Ochukah who was also known as Awuor, carried out a coup intending to throw President Daniel arap Moi. Moi was then in his fifth year as president having taken over as President on 10th October 1978 after the death of founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

Hezekiah Ochukah had joined the Kenya Air Force at the age of 23 after attending Naki Kabete Primary School and Mirogi Secondary School. He underwent a series of military training at Lanet in Nakuru, Eastleigh Air Base and in the UK up to 1980.

After taking over Eastleigh Air Base and Embakasi Air Base at dawn on the fateful Sunday of 1st August 1982, Senior Private Ochukah then aged 29 captured the Government radio station, the Voice of Kenya (VOK). Popular Kenyan journalist who had been picked from his home, Leonard Mambo Mbotela, was at gunpoint forced to announce the take-over.

Ochukah after taking over gave the reasons for the coup as the fact that the Kenyan economy was in shambles due to corruption and mismanagement, the cost of living was very high for the common man and Kenyans were being highly taxed.

However, Hezekiah Ochukah’s rule was short-lived. By 9 AM the same day, six hours after staging the coup, loyalist military leaders led by Major General Mahmoud Mohammed were able to retake over the government.

Ochukah escaped to Tanzania but was repatriated and after a court-martial where he was represented by Senator Moses Wetangula. He was found guilty with his co-conspirator Pancras Oteyo and hanged in 1987.