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Gift that man eagerly wants to hand Kibaki

By -WAINAINA NDUNG’U | Apr 23rd 2013 | 4 min read
Joseph Githaiga at his home in Kiandondo village in Tetu District, with newspaper cuttings on retired President Mwai Kibaki.

By Wainaina Ndung'u

Tetu,Kenya:Man has newspaper stories on retired presidents Kibaki and Moi during their entire lives in the politician arena

Sitting outside his house in Kiandondo village in Tetu District, there is little to betray about Mzee Joseph Githaiga’s pastime.

The 63-year-old holds a pink file firmly as if someone would grab it. It is understandable. In the file, there are important messages on the political life of retired President Mwai Kibaki. There is a newspaper cutting with a photo of a Mr Charles Wambugu standing alone with a framed photo of Dr Godfrey Muriuki at Gatugi Polling Station during the March 1988 elections.

The caption says Wambugu was Dr Muriuki’s agent at the polling station during the mlolongo elections in which people stood behind the portrait of their candidate. Apparently, nobody else joined the queue of Dr Muriuki at the station.

Muriuki was opposing Kibaki. It was at the elections that Kibaki is remembered to have made his famous quote “rigging also needs some intelligence”.

There is also The Standard cutting of a story of a Kenya Airways jet landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on November 18, 1984 during a power blackout.

The plane was carrying a Kenyan delegation returning from Organisation of African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

They included Vice-President Kibaki, Foreign Affairs minister Elijah Mwangale and Assistant Ministers Paul Sumbi and Omar Soba.

The pilot, only identified as Capt Chepkwony, broke the news of the blackout only after the plane had landed safely.

There is also a photo cutting of Kibaki in a harambee for Chinga Girls in 1988 with the then Othaya Kanu chairman Munene Kairu, where Sh3.8 million was raised.

 Intimidate opponents

There are also cuttings of Kibaki’s woes in Kanu, where he was being ‘harassed’. Some of the cuttings say he told his rivals to show some “finesse” in their attacks and in others, he told the then ruling party Kanu not to be used to intimidate opponents.

Githaiga has also two copies of Weekly Review and Drum magazine with Kibaki on the cover. One of the magazines in 1980 had Kibaki denying that he had been approached to head the World Bank.

The retired artificial insemination technician’s newspaper articles collection on Kibaki are elaborate that they would be invaluable to anybody doing the retired president’s biography.

But Githaiga just wants to hand over the file to the retired president as a gift to a politician he greatly admires.

An appendix of the topics he has cuttings on shows he has 64 files on personalities such as former president’s Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi, paramount chiefs Lenana, Karuri wa Gakure, Njiiri, Wambugu Mathangani, Wangu wa Makeri, Josiah Njonjo and Muhoho Gatheca, eulogies of prominent personalities and articles on elections.

But the Kibaki file is perhaps one of the most elaborately preserved as Githaiga explains the former President was one of his favourite politicians.

He says he wanted the file to be his retirement gift to Kibaki but when he went to the Central PC’s office, the Deputy PC referred him to the Provincial Information Officer, who told him he would work out something but he never heard from him again until Kibaki retired.

He now wants to hand over the collection to Kibaki as he retires to his home in Mweiga, near Nyeri town.

“All I would do is photocopy the cuttings, retain the copies and give the originals to the former president,” says Githaiga. He might find a receptive ear since according to former security adviser Esau Kioni, Kibaki is a keen reader and retains a library at his home in Muthaiga, Nairobi.

Requiem mass

Githaiga says he will soon be opening a folder on President Uhuru Kenyatta. He already has cuttings on some of his earliest moments in media, including his address during Mzee Kenyatta’s requiem mass in Nairobi in 1978 as well as a 1990s profile of Uhuru’s sister Christina Platt’s family.

There is also a cutting of a portrait of the extended Kenyatta’s children dated 1990s, which has Uhuru, sisters Christina, Nyokabi, Jeni and Margaret as well as brother’s Peter Magana and Muhoho.

“I would be honoured to present this to Uhuru, now or in future,” says Githaiga.

He says he developed a passion while being a student at Nyeri High School between 1962 and 1965.

He had been selected to join the school after a sterling performance in his Certificate of Primary Education at Gathinga Primary School.

It was while at the Catholic-sponsored Nyeri High School (then called Nyeri Secondary School) that Githaiga would develop a passion for reading newspapers and periodicals.

Two cabinets

Githaiga, a father of two grown up girls, gives credit for this passion to the American Catholic Fathers who ran the Nyeri High School. He says they were very particular that students be provided with newspapers and magazines to keep in tandem with developments around them.

Githaiga only cuts and preserves what interests him. He says keeping the collection is not an issue because the files only occupy two cabinets in his house.

“This is just a hobby. If I find anything interesting, I cut and preserve it. When I read it again, I find it interesting,” says Githaiga who also loves trees.


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