Kalembe Ndile: Self-made leader who defended the underprivileged

Former Kibwezi MP Richard Kalembe Ndile, 57, died while receiving treatment at Nairobi Hospital. [File, Standard]

Condolence messages are streaming in following news of the demise of former Kibwezi MP Richard Kalembe Ndile.

Ndile, 57, died while receiving treatment at Nairobi Hospital.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has eulogised Kalembe Ndile as a lively politician who loved and worked with everyone with the interests of the country at his heart.

"It is unfortunate that death has taken from us the Hon Kalembe Ndile in his prime,” the President said.

Deputy President William Ruto remembered him as a leader who devoted his life to serve the people.

“He was a master of equal justice who set an incredible example of service to all. He will best be remembered for his modesty, insights, independent voice and fighting for the rights of the underprivileged,” the DP said.

Former Prime Minister and ODM leader Raila Odinga, through his Twitter account, described Kalembe as a charismatic leader.

“He was a man with exemplary grassroots mobilization skills and who cared deeply for the underprivileged,” Raila said.

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua eulogised the former lawmaker as a self-made leader who was loved by many for being a brave voice of the people.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of Kenya’s top political orators, Hon. Kalembe Ndile ‘Mtoto wa Squatter’,” Governor Mutua said.

Makueni senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior while speaking to KTN News at Lee Funeral Home said Kalembe’s demise had shocked them, adding that they (eastern region leaders) were not aware of any existing illness.

“We are at a loss of words, we are waiting for more information from the family, we don’t even know what to tell Kenyans,” he said.

He is remembered for his famous slogan “Tip Tip Amani Kenya” which became popular when he formed The Independent Party (TIP) ahead of the 2007 General elections. [File, Standard]

Former Kakamega senator who worked with the deceased in parliament (2002-2007) described his former colleague as a voice of the voiceless. He said Kalembe was “a true champion of land rights in parliament,”

Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement through a tweet also joined the country in eulogising Kalembe Ndile.

“Kibwezi people and Kenya at large have surely lost a dedicated leader who always yearned for change. A leader with a big heart. May his soul rest in peace,” the tweet read in part.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said Ndile was a charismatic and hardworking leader.

“He was a self-made and courageous leader who advocated and championed for the interests of common mwananchi,” Oparanya said.

For Kalembe, a day without laughter was a day wasted. He is remembered for his humour and comical utterances that left his audience laughing themselves silly.

His famous slogan “Tip Tip Amani Kenya” became popular when he formed The Independent Party (TIP) ahead of the 2007 General elections.

Kalembe’s then-new party failed to win a seat in the 2007 elections after nominating 35 candidates and received 0.5 per cent of the votes cast.

Five years on, the TIP party’s votes increased to 1.1 per cent after it won one seat (Maweu Kyengo of Katatha in Kangundo) out of the 28 candidates it had fielded.

In 2016, the TIP party was merged into the Jubilee Party as Kalembe left active politics.

In December 2020, the late Kalembe Ndile donated two acres of land and a motorcycle to Julius Wambua, the man who had been framed for incest and incarcerated for eight years.

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