Lupita Nyongo’s Family Has Endured A Struggle You Would Not Believe

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Lupita-Nyongo-parentsBy Andrew Scot Bolsinger

As Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o performed in the brutally dramatic best picture winning, “12 Years a Slave” she may have had personal experiences to draw from.

In an interview with The Daily Mail, Nyong’o’s father, Peter Anyang Nyong’o said his daughter had seen real brutality and torture during her upbringing in Kenya.

Because Peter Nyong’o opposed former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi he was subjected to repeated torture. His brother, the actor’s uncle Charles, was attacked on a ferry and thrown off. His body was never found.

‘We were put into prison and the torture chambers by the regime, but it was like a dinner party when you compare it to what the slaves went through,’ Peter Nyong’o said.

His brother’s death was never investigated.
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“Even now, no information has come to light. I know he was on a ferry in Mombasa and witnesses who I managed to talk to told me clearly that it was not an accident and he had been attacked and pushed off the ferry. But the witnesses were too terrified to testify to the police,’ he said.

He said the family’s treatment forced them to flee to Mexico in 1983, where Lupita was born.

The family returned to Kenya in 1987 but they were quickly forced into hiding. Peter Nyong’o worked at that time to set up an underground democratic party. He continued to face harassment and arrest.

His children, including Lupita, had to move with their parents from place to place, with her father often taken into police custody on a weekly basis, while the rest of the family were the victims of threatening phone calls, he said.

Peter Nyong’o is now on the Kenyan Senate. Even with his current authority he has been unable to persuade those who know about his brother’s death to speak out.

Daniel arap Moi rose to power through the government, first serving as the vice president. He was tremendously popular initially, though threatened by the rise of Marxism. His two-decade long reign came to be known as a time of oppression, while the leaders pillaged the country’s wealth for their own gain. He retired in 2002, forced out by term limits.


Andrew Scot Bolsinger won more than two dozen press awards during his journalism career. He is a freelance writer, author and operates www.criminalu.co, which is focused on prison reform. He can reached at Andrew.Bolsinger@gmail.com