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Month of death: Shock as July claims 4 leaders in a matter of days

By Nzau Musau | Published Sat, July 15th 2017 at 00:00, Updated July 14th 2017 at 22:05 GMT +3


The death of four prominent Kenyans in quick succession in this cold month of July has left many Kenyans in shock as it emerges as one of the the darkest moments in the country’s history.

In a span of days, the country has lost a serving Cabinet Secretary, two former Cabinet Ministers — one of them a sitting Senator — and a former powerful Permanent Secretary to the cruel hand of death.

Burials of the fallen leaders, who have all died in July, began yesterday when President Uhuru Kenyatta went to Rumuruti in Laikipia County where Senator Godfrey Gitahi (GG) Kariuki was laid to rest.

He is today expected to lead hundreds of other mourners to Ilbisil in Kajiado County where the burial of Interior Cabinet Joseph Nkaissery will be take place.

Never before have so many prominent Kenyans met their deaths in their own distinct ways and their bodies taken to one resting place — Lee Funeral home — cold and motionless.

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The death of GG Kariuki, also a former Internal Affairs minister, a diminutive but powerful figure in former President Daniel arap Moi’s government, on the eve of July (June 30) triggered the wave.

And on July 7, 2017,  a fit-as-a-fiddle former military general and the country’s Cabinet Secretary in charge of interior Joseph Nkaissery followed suit, in the dark of the night.

Both Nkaissery and GG were indefatigable fitness enthusiasts.

Just when Kenyans were still coming to terms with Nkaissery’s death, Kenya’s foremost “total man” and former powerful Cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott also died, following a long illness.

Unlike others before him, Biwott had been reported dead numerous times through fake social media reports and rumours.

An eccentric figure and a powerhouse by himself, Kenyans were still perplexed with intriguing stories of his bizarre ways when they received news of the death of yet another prominent Kenyan, former ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat.

A grey-head and career civil servant, Kiplagat was a tragic case of honour comingled with dishonour.

While he excelled in diplomatic ventures in Somalia and other parts of Africa, he was discoloured in equal measure by two politico-tragedies of Kenya’s history — the Wagalla massacre and the Robert Ouko murder mystery.

The four power-men share a long and controversial history.

All — GG Kariuki, Nkaissery, Biwott and Kiplagat — were adversely mentioned in the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report over related gross human rights violations.

GG’s tenure at the Internal Affairs docket was riddled with numerous claims of violations of human rights in the North Eastern parts of the country.

Nkaissery’s role in some of the military operations in Pokot area received widespread condemnation from area residents and he was also flagged in the TJRC report.

Biwott had to answer the long-running claims that he was the mystery man behind the murder of Ouko while Kiplagat, then a PS in Ouko’s, ministry, was equally linked to the matter.

The four all rose from humble beginnings to claim their space in the history of the country.

In the past, the month of August, which is coming in two weeks time, was the most feared in Kenya because of the number of leaders it has claimed.

Since the death of the Kenya’s founding President, Jomo Kenyatta, in August 22, 1978, many other prominent Kenyans have died on the eighth month. Martin Shikuku, who was detained by Kenyatta, died on the same day in 2012.

Kenya lost Michael Kijana Wamalwa  on August 23, 2003. On August 14, 1990, Bishop Alexander Muge set off on a journey from which he would never return. He died in a horrendous road crash. Foul play was immediately whispered everywhere, given the fact that the Bishop had ruffled the feathers of one too many politicians.

On the same day in August two years later, 1992, prominent opposition leader Masinde Muliro died under mysterious circumstances at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) upon arrival from London. He was in the same flight with Biwott.

And just as Kenyans prepared to breathe a sigh of relief that awful month, a controversial Catholic priest and outspoken critic of the government Father John Antony Kaiser was found murdered near Naivasha town on August 24.

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