Let’s not ignore Matiba at this hour
Sometimes back, it was reported that Prime Minister Raila Odinga, in company of his wife Ida and Land minister James Orengo, visited the veteran politician Kenneth Matiba at his Jadini Hotel in Diani.
The leaders shared their experience recalling the sufferings, which they underwent during the clamor for multi-party democracy. Raila was upbeat after the family members briefed him that the ailing politician was responding well to treatment and was on the path to a full recovery.
The premier was on a whirlwind campaign tour of Coast when he visited the politician. Given Matiba’s history, I am sure the majority of Kenyans were also happy to receive the good news. That was in February.
Notably, as a leading light in the struggle for multi-party democracy, Matiba was among those arrested and detained without trial on July 4, 1990, three days before the bloody Saba Saba rally. Despite the arrests, plans for a rally at Kamukunji grounds that had already been declared illegal by police proceeded. The police had warned those who attend would do so at their own peril. Come the day of the rally, 20 Kenyans were shot dead. While in detention Matiba suffered a stroke, a problem that he has since been battling with.
Matiba was detained alongside Charles Rubia and Raila after they declined to drop their demand for political pluralism and instead sustained their campaigns. At the time, the leaders blamed the Government for standing in way of reforms and being the root causes of the woes Kenyans were facing. They argued it was difficult to address the challenges because the country was under single party dictatorship.
So the way forward was to instal a new system of governance that was rooted on freedoms of expression, speech, association and movement. It is good to note the sacrifices Matiba and others made were not in vain. We are today reaping the fruits of what they sowed.
Soon after he was released, a frail looking Matiba was flown out of the country for specialised medical treatment in London. Ever since, he has been in and out of the hospitals with reports indicating he was advised by his doctors to keep away from politics and stop engaging on what would strain his brain.
Hour of need
Granted, it is painful to note Matiba is not only battling with his ill health, he is also struggling to save his business empire. Sometimes back, disturbing reports appeared in the media that plans were underway to auction Riara Group of Schools, associated with him, to recover a loan he owed a bank.
This raises questions in my mind. Why has the Kibaki regime kept mum as Matiba property is being targeted? Why would the Government, which owes its existence to the reforms Matiba championed, desert him in his hour of need? This is selfishness.