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Meet Uhuru's ex security guard

NEWS

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 Adam Kassim served the former president in the 80s. [PHOTO: ELVIS OGINA]

Meet Adan Kassim Olow, the retired security guard whose first encounter with President Uhuru Kenyatta was some 36 years ago. Uhuru was a tenant at an apartment in Lavington where Kassim was a night guard. The young Uhuru was among several tenants in the newly built apartments at the junction of Gitanga and Vanga Roads.

It took several weeks before Kassim realized Uhuru was a scion of a powerful family. This happened when Mama Ngina came knocking at the gate one evening of 1986. Kassim declined to open the gate, insisting he had not been notified about the impromptu visit. He nevertheless went upstairs, alerting Uhuru who climbed down to the gate.

According Kassim, Uhuru was jolted into action when he spotted his mother’s car after peeping through an opening in the gate.

“He quickly assisted me to flung open the gate, it was such a surprise, this was unlikely of other tenants,” recalls the guard then aged 27.

The visitor drove in, and after exchanging warm pleasantries, a delighted Uhuru led the woman upstairs to his house. Kassim learnt later the stranger was actually Mama Ngina, wife to founding father, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. This was after Ngina left, having spent about an hour with the son.

Uhuru called him to his house. It was while inside the house that Kassim realized that the tenant was not just an ordinary citizen.

Guest list

“He told me ‘that is Mama Ngina, my mother’ whenever she comes, allow her in,” Uhuru told a dumbfound Kassim whose memory about former First Family refreshed at the view of a large portrait of old Jomo.

Uhuru then pulled a pen, scribbling something on a piece of paper, which he handed over to Kassim. “It had written three names of Mama Ngina, George Muhoho and Ngengi Muigai,” recalls the class six drop-out.

“Never keep the three waiting at the gate, but for the young boys, I will be dealing with them personally,” Uhuru told the guard. The ‘young boys’ was a reference to Uhuru’s social buddies, according to Kassim.

From then on, Uhuru and Kassim became close. The father of 10 remembers how a curious Uhuru liked listening to his stories relating to members of the Somali community living in Isiolo, Marsabit, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera and Moyale.

“The Wagalla massacre really disturbed his mind, I tried my level best in explaining to about the bloodbath,” says Kassim who was recognized by the United States of America for his exemplary duties during the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) conference graced by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

He describes Uhuru as a generous man recalling “akipita hapo kwa gate, yeye alikua nawachia mimi kitu kidogo.”

The 4th assistant secretary general at Kenya National Private Security Workers’ Union (KNPSWU) dropped out of primary school due to lack of school fee. An uncle tried to coerce him into becoming a herder back home in Garissa. But the young man fled to Nairobi in 1981. Soon he landed guarding job at a construction site at the landmark Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

Five years later, he got a similar job at another site in Lavington where an Asian developer was putting up residential apartments in which Uhuru was among the first occupants.  

“Mwanzoni mimi akujua huyu kijana ni mtoto ya rais,” says Kassim. He worked at the place for two years and quit, landing a job at the Somali embassy as a messenger up to 1995 when the embassy closed due to the turmoil in Mogadisghu.

He was recruited the next year by United States Investigations Service, (UIIS), a security firm guarding the American embassy, before the contract was taken over by KK Security, which absorbed Kassim in 2002.

Kassim retired in 2012

In 2009, he was deployed to specifically guard Clinton who was a guest a city hotel for two days. The American government appreciated Kassim’s professionalism, diligence and dedication.

“The American Embassy benefitted greatly through your professional work performance at the intercontinental Hotel and the KICC. This brings great credit upon you, KK Security, the US Embassy and the Regional Security Office,” reads the certificate signed by Jeffery Breed.

Kassim retired in 2012, taking up an active role in union activities, which opened the door to State House where he got the rare opportunity of meeting his old pal. On December 22, 2016, KNPSWU led a 4,000 member strong delegation of guards to the house on the hill where Kassim a star speaker, trickling the president with memoirs of their past.

“The president couldn’t hold back laughter, Kassim left him in stitches with his humorous chronicles of the bygone,” says Isaac Andabwa, secretary general, KNPSWU.

When the meeting came to a close, Uhuru in the presence of Kassim, pulled aside the then interior CS, the late Joseph Nkaissery and head of public service in Uhuru administration Joseph Kinyua, controller Lawrence Lenayapa and spokesperson Manoah Esipisu, instructing the four gentlemen to ensure his friend is assisted.

Kassim, a resident of Kawangware since 1981, is still patiently waiting for that day the good news will come.

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