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How Rigathi Gachagua 'smuggled' herbs to London


Many people have describd him as abrasive leader who would likely be a dictator if Deputy President William Ruto won the August 9 General Election. However, Rigathi Gachagua, MP for Mathira Constituency has soft spot for the people he cares for. The running mate for Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate William Ruto can be, surprisingly compassionate.

Take for instance the time he carried a box full of medicinal herbs to the United Kingdom for his ailing brother. This is what happened: The first governor of Nyeri County Nderitu Gachagua and brother to Rigathi was undergoing treatment at a London hospital. He had been ailing for a while. 

Rigathi said he carried arrow roots, sweet potatoes, packets of maize and porridge flour for his sick brother, hoping to nurse him back to health. Women from his rural home in Kiamariga, Mathira West also helped him gather the stinging nettle, locally known as hatha. But since the bag was too bulky, he was subjected to thorough screening when he arrived at Heathrow International Airport.

“It was frustrating. They exposed what I had carried, but that would not stop me from taking the traditional herbs to my sick brother,” he told a congregation at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Karatina. 

“The stinging nettle did wonders. It’s sharp thorns pricked the officers and they left me alone,” he said to the amusement of the congregation.Rigathi further narrated how the appealing smell of ugali which Gachagua’s daughter was preparing for her sick father, pulled a Kenyan woman to their room. 

“She knocked at our door and asked for a piece, but since it was just enough for my brother, we gave her a packet of maize flour.”

Rigathi said that amazingly, the two-month hospitalisation drew the politician closer to God.“At one time, the doctor came back with medical examination results and he asked him how many close family members had accompanied him. He said four, while in fact we were just three. We were called in, and when the doctor asked the whereabouts of the fourth person, he said it was God,” Rigathi said.

Sadly, Nderitu passed on 24 February 2017 while undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

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