Family, leaders and locals celebrate Kibaki’s 90th birthday
By Ndungu Gachane
| November 15th 2021
As former President Mwai Kibaki turns 90 today family members, leaders, and the locals have urged President Uhuru Kenyatta and his probable successors to emulate his work ethic.
Wishing the patriarch, a happy birthday, Kibaki’s son Jimmy, his wife Caroline and the former president’s daughter Judy Kibaki wrote:
“As you turn 90 years of age today, this is a time of reflection and celebration. Your life in itself is a study of determination, achievement, and grace.
Your service to our beloved country over a span of fifty-three years - as Kanu Executive Officer, Assistant Minister, Cabinet Minister, Vice-President, Leader of the Official Opposition, and President - is a singular testament to your sense of duty to your country and love of your fellow Kenyans.”
Describing today’s celebration as a small function, they added: “All Kenyans are very proud of you. It is an honour and a privilege to be your son. May Almighty God bless you always, and give you many more years to continue watching over us.”
In Nyeri, some locals feel President Kenyatta has let his predecessor down due to the heavy and incessant borrowing and the runaway corruption in government.
They called on the leaders to seek advice from Kibaki and specifically those seeking the presidency next year.
Kibaki’s nephew Boniface Githinji Gichuki, feels Kibaki’s shoes have not been filled, saying there is a huge gap between his administration and Kenyatta’s.
In his efforts to woo Mt Kenya electorate, opposition chief Raila Odinga has been presenting himself as an ally of Kibaki, saying he (Kibaki) is his hero.
In his Mashujaa Day speech, Raila said Kibaki steered Kenya and the economy to great heights despite the challenges that prevailed at the time.
“We feel proud to be associated with Kibaki. Othaya’s history can’t be written without the mention of my uncle and the country’s too. He set the pace so high that his successor has been unable to fit in his shoes,” Gichuki said.
Kibaki is the last-born in a family of eight but only he and his sister Esther Waitherero are alive. His parents were Kibaki Githnji and Teresia Wanjiku.
When we visited Waitherero at her Gatuya-ini village in Othaya, we found Waitherero sprucing up her compound by uprooting some weeds with a panga but her walking stick was within arm's length for support.
When we told the 105-year old woman with a stooped posture that we were there for a story about Kibaki, Waitherero, despite her old age, remembered everything with nostalgia corrected us and said he is not Kibaki but Mwai.
“Kibaki was our father, that young man is Mwai, he is a genius although I am much older than him. His wisdom and knowledge saw him being elected Member of Parliament for so many years before being elected President,” Waitherero said.
According to the granny, who has hearing difficulties, Kibaki has done his family and village proud.
“I wish him many years. I carried him on my back and took him to school. I’m always glad and proud to be associated with him. He has also put the name of our late father Kibaki on the global map,” Waitherero added.
Kibaki's neighbours in Othaya want the government to set aside days to celebrate his achievements of 10 years.
Macharia Githaiga said he has known the retired President since 1974 as a straightforward transparent and serious anti-corruption crusader.
“We remember him due to schools that have been built in this area in his tenure. The number of roads constructed in this constituency during his time as the MP affirms that he is a development conscious leader,” Githaiga added.
Amos Githambo urged the government and Kibaki’s family to plan for a day where he will come to the constituency so that the locals may see him, saying they have never seen him since he left office.
“He introduced the boda-boda sector when he was elected President. We love him so much and we would like his family and government to plan a session with us so that we may see our hero,” Githambo added.
While wishing the former Head of State a happy birthday, Kibaki’s former security advisor Esau Kioni, who now chairs the Democratic Party of Kenya (DP), said the former President is a democrat and a leader who should be emulated by the African continent.
“The entire time I served under the former President, he remained a down to earth, no-nonsense and visionary leader. He never encouraged laziness and free things. He taught some of us to be responsible and a hard-working nation,” Kioni added.
Kioni said it was unfortunate that the leaders who want to succeed President Kenyatta believe in free things and a handout economy.
“The country should be wary of Presidential contenders who want to revert gains by the former President Mwai Kibaki by introducing handouts instead of encouraging our people to work hard.
Kibaki was not one to dish out goodies. His disdain for free things made him loathe harambees to the extent he did not conduct a single fundraiser during his 10-year presidency.
Area MP Gichuki Mugambi headed Othaya Development Association (ODA) to coordinate the affairs of the Constituency while Kibaki was President.
Mugambi said the former President mentored him to talk less but work more for his people.
"He was slow in talking but his development track record spoke for himself. Ten years later after leaving office, the Constituency and the country still remember his work despite him being not loud politically. I am following in his footsteps," the MP said.
Emulating Kibaki who was aloof to his critics, preferring to engage them with silence or the occasional well-calculated verbal jab, Mugambi too says he chooses peace even in the face of the slightest provocation.
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