By ABDIKADIR SUGOW
KENYA: Is he the bad guy of the Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta regimes as has been painted or is he the most misunderstood man in Kenya?
Mr Francis Thuita Kimemia, the man who held the powerful position of PS to the Cabinet and Head of Public Service in President Kibaki’s regime and now Secretary in the Cabinet Office in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government, cuts an ordinary figure when The Standard On Sunday visits him in office.
On this Friday a week ago, he had dashed from a function with President Kenyatta at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) to honour the date with this writer, after many days of telephone calls and text messages.
The time was soon after 9pm, and we settled down to business in this expansive Harambee House office on the second floor that houses the nerve centre of the powerful docket in the land. Hanging on the wall are portraits of President Uhuru and those of his predecessors Mwai Kibaki, Daniel arap Moi and Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
It is here that the normally shy-looking and reserved government bureaucrat and administrator first opened up to a wide-ranging interview in which he gave a candid account of his early childhood, family life and work.
Born a year after Independence in 1964 to the religious family of Mzee Joseph Kimemia in Sabugo location of Ol Kalou Constituency, Nyandarua County, Kimemia recalls walking barefoot to school and encountering leopards while crossing thickets on his way to market milk from the family’s herd of dairy cows.
“I used to wake up as early as 3am to milk our cows and rush it for sale in the nearby market before proceeding to school,” he says.
Kimemia, who is married to Ann Thuita and is blessed with seven children — three of whom are in university studying Finance, Medicine and Information and Communication Technology — believes in family values.
“Family is the most paramount in any society but that does not hinder my duties as a government official,” he says.
His is a hectic and demanding schedule that entails a lot of researching and reading, and most often he goes home at midnight.
Kimemia, who says he doesn’t know the meaning of his name and that it may have been from the nearby Maasai community, advises parents that they must value their children.
“They (children) need to be listened to and to be provided for with strong family values. They must be allowed to discuss their problems and solutions provided before they go to bed,” he adds.
Kimemia says parents should not lose control of their children and should accompany them for shopping, games and tours.
“Parents should also balance between carrot and stick — disciplining the children by always speaking to them about the truth and advising them against bad ways.
As a young boy of seven years, he was inculcated with the virtue of honesty when he started receiving the Holy Communion while donning oversize religious gowns.
During his free time, the Cabinet Secretary engages in livestock and crop farming, a hobby — besides business — that he hopes to take up fully when he retires.
He does not rule out going into politics, only saying he is ready to contribute to any matters related to governance. “Some of my people wanted me to contest in the just-concluded elections, but others urged me to continue helping in this transitional period.”
He has a strong view of politics, which he believes should be a platform for dissemination of values in society and not vice-versa where individuals have abused office or exploited others. He also loves travelling to explore new ventures. “I like to learn about new business cultures by visiting new places within and outside Africa.”