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Leaders, locals mourn development-minded 'Total Man'

 Nicholas Biwott served as MP for Keiyo South for almost three decades, since 1979. (Photo: Benjamin Sakwa, Standard)

Residents of Chebior village in Keiyo South constituency are still in shock following the death of former Cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott.

Those who spoke to the media hailed the businessman, popularly known as karnet, meaning made of iron, for his contribution to the constituency's socio-economic development.

Biwott served as MP for Keiyo South for almost three decades, since 1979.

While most Kenyans say Biwott lived a life of mystery, residents here described him as an astute leader who shaped the country's political and economic agenda.

Biwott lived a simple life despite the fact that he was a billionaire. He never owned a mobile phone and occasionally used the one owned by his aide, William Chepkut.

It is said that many people, including his close friends, were never invited to Biwott's house. He preferred to meet in public places.

He often flew in on weekends from Nairobi and would find hundreds of residents waiting for him to address their various needs.

William Chesundo, his chief agent during the 1974 General Election, described Biwott as a great man.

"I remember those days, when I would stand right behind him in the elections during the mlolongo system. And he helped us a lot. We are saddened by his death and we will surely miss him," said Chesundo.

Biwott, who was the National Vision Party (NVP) chairman, is credited for helping schools and hospitals get piped water and electricity connection during his tenure.

There was little activity at his parents' home in Chebior and the gates remained locked. It was the same story at his various homes in Uasin Gishu County, where only close relatives and friends were allowed in.

People gathered in groups at shopping centres in Kaptarakwa, talking in hushed tones and reminiscing on the times Biwott served both as MP and Cabinet minister during the Moi era.

Luka Malakwen said Biwott was passionate about education. "That is why he invested heavily in building learning facilities and sponsored thousands of students.

"He would take all candidates for a trip every year to motivate them to work hard. We are really saddened by his death," he said.

Anna Kiplagat said Biwott helped her educate her children. She described him as having a kind heart.

Biwott's long-time friend, Michael Kiplagat 'Y' said: "He was like my father. He never harboured any grudge and was a peacemaker fostering unity."

Jackson Kiptanui, the Keiyo South MP, said Biwott made a lot of development in the constituency.

"He continued with his development agenda in the region even after I took over from him in 2009. When I campaigned against him in 2007, many said I was risking my life by competing with such a powerful man. This was mere speculation because he conceded defeat," said the MP.

Kiptanui said Biwott was always concerned about the welfare of residents.

Area senator Kipchumba Murkomen described Biwott as a great leader.

"I had the privilege of competing with him in 2013. While a student, he mentored me politically and even shaped my life by helping me pay school fees," said Murkomen.

Areas governor Alex Tolgos said: "We have lost a prominent son of our land. Aside from politics, he was fatherly and always gave us great advice." 

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