Munene Kairu's son recalls Kibaki's loyalty to 'Nyeri Six'

One of the mourners during former President the late Mwai Kibaki State Burial in Othaya, Nyeri county on April 30, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

A son of former Kieni MP Munene Kairu read a tribute yesterday for Mwai Kibaki which rekindled a sad chapter of persecution for the politician during his 10-year reign as vice president.

James Kairu’s tribute, read on behalf of his mother Lucy Wangui Kairu and his siblings, rekindled memories of what was known as the Nyeri Six case.

Former policeman Kairu, who was close to Kibaki and five other friends, were arrested during the one-party era after it was alleged that they had fought in a bar after a tiff over the political fate of the vice president.

What followed, including prosecution and incarceration at King’ong’o prison, was a test on Kibaki’s loyalty to his friends during a sensitive political era.

Kibaki had kept quiet with his critics alleging that his silence was in line with a long-held perception that he was a master of self-preservation over the years, shunning controversy and failing to stand by his friends.

When the former vice president was asked what he was doing about the trouble against his friends, his answer was only that he was “praying for them”.

But yesterday’s tribute by the family of the former Kieni MP who died on April 1, 1998 painted a different picture.

“In 1988 when our father was put in prison, we knew he was targeted for supporting you,” the family said in their tribute.

According to Kairu, in the 1970s through the 1980s to the 1990s, many Kenyans took their father as the gateway to Kibaki as the two were inseparable.

“After the death of our father, you treated our family as your own. We shall never forget this,” he said.

They also praised the former president for his service to Kenyans, saying Kenyans will never forget what he did to their lives.

Kibaki’s oldest son Jimmy also confirmed the strong bond between the two now departed politicians saying they remained close personally and as families for many years.

“It is at Munene Kairu’s funeral that I first  saw my father shed a real tear,” said Jimmy Kibaki while inviting Kairu to give his tribute.

Kairu was elected the MP for Kieni in 1992 under Kibaki’s Democratic Party and retained the seat in 1997, but died a year later. He was succeeded by Dr Christopher Murungaru.

To many, Kairu was the DP financier, the real engine behind the opposition party that Kibaki had founded.