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Long serving politician Martin Shikuku dies

By - | Published Wed, August 22nd 2012 at 00:00, Updated August 22nd 2012 at 19:49 GMT +3

By Standard Digital Reporter

Kenya’s long serving politician and independence era hero Martin Shikuku has died.

The former Butere MP died Wednesday evening at Texas Cancer Centre in Nairobi's Hurlingham where he was undergoing treatment after a long battle with prostate cancer.

Shikuku joined politics before independence and was elected MP on a KADU ticket way back in 1963.

The political career of the man popularly known as Son of Oyondi has seen him rub the political elite the wrong side and was one time detained. He was also among those who spearheaded campaigns for multiparty system.

He also stirred controversy among his Luhya community when he dug his grave and bought a coffin, an act considered a taboo. Shikuku attended Mumias Secondary School and St. Peters Seminary in Mukumu both in Western Province. 

He ventured into politics in 1959 when he joined the Nairobi People's Convention Party (NPR), and soon became its Secretary-General.

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He later resigned from NPR to join the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) joining former President Daniel Moi and Ronald Ngala and became the Youth Leader.

In 1963 Shikuku was elected MP for Butere Constituency in Western Province. Shortly after however KADU was disbanded after a merger with KANU.

Shikuku won the Butere parliamentary seat again in the 1969 general elections and was appointed Assistant Minister in the Office of the Vice-President and Home Affairs by the late President Jomo Kenyatta.

However his controversial nature landed him in trouble with the Kenyatta regime when he sarcastically referred to the KANU government as "dead".

Shikuku was sacked as assistant minister and was arrested and detained.

He was released when Moi came into power in 1978 and he recaptured his Butere seat in 1979 and Moi appointed him Assistant Minister for Livestock Development. He won in the 1983 general elections but he lost in 1988.

Shikuku came back into the limelight in the 1990's with the clamour for Multi-Party Democracy in Kenya.

He teamed up with the Late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga to form Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD) and was the party’s secretary General. Later Ford split into two groups, Ford Kenya and Ford Asili after Shikuku and Odinga disagreed.

Shikuku teamed up with veteran politician Kenneth Matiba in Ford Asili and he recaptured his Butere parliamentary seat in the 1992 general elections.

Shikuku and Matiba parted ways in 1997 after a disagreement.  Matiba left the party leaving Shikuku to vie for presidency. Ford-Asili did not get many votes and won only one parliamentary seat but Shikuku lost the Butere seat.

Shikuku’s controversy was not only political as in 2004, he elicited criticism from his clan when he dug a grave and bought a coffin in preparation for his death.

Shikuku was married to four wives, three of whom have passed away.

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