Lupita’s stunning performance in 12 Years a Slave has not only won her a slew of recognition and awards and skyrocketed her to mega-stardom; it has also brought her family’s political plight into the spotlight as well.
During award season, Lupita repeatedly mentioned her beloved uncle Charles and even dedicated her Best Supporting Actress victory at the Critics’ Choice Awards to him. Charles disappeared in 1980 and it is believed that he was murdered because of his opposition to the regime of Kenyan President at the time, Daniel arap Moi.
Now Lupita’s father, Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, is revealing the extent of the persecution and harassment their family faced because of his dedication to democracy. The politician and academic member of the underground Democratic Party in Kenya says that when they returned to Kenya in 1987 after having been exiled in Mexico for several years, the family had to constantly move and hide out in safe houses to ensure their safety.
Nyong’o explains, “It was a very insecure time. We were moving from one place to another, which was not good for Lupita and (her brother) Peter Jr. I was being picked up (arrested) monthly and weekly. It would depend on the period. It was as often as they wanted. It was mainly psychological for me, although it was physical for others. You could not wash for days, you were harassed, threatened, you couldn’t sleep and it becomes unbearable.”
Nyong’o said that Lupita and her brother weren’t told what was really happening and why they were always moving because it would cause them “unnecessary trauma.”