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14 prominent personalities who died in 2021

By Jacinta Mutura | Dec 31st 2021 | 5 min read

On so many levels, 2021 was a challenging year.

We said goodbye to notable people including politicians, business tycoons, lawyers and medical practitioners –all of whom made an impact through their work

Among the prominent people who passed on at home and beyond include:

Paul Koinange died of Covid-19 complications at the Nairobi Hospital on March 31. [File, Standard]

1. Paul Koinange

Paul Koinange died of Covid-19 complications at the Nairobi Hospital on March 31. He was the MP for Kiambaa constituency.

Koinange was the chair of the National Assembly Administration and Security committee.

The late MP was a critic of William Ruto’s “hustlers versus dynasties” narrative.

He had initiated processes to introduce laws to criminalise the use of those terms.  

However the proposal failed to sail through after Raila Odinga intervened and implored the legislators behind the Bill to drop it.

A portrait of the late Simeon Nyachae during his requiem mass at Nairobi Central SDA Church-Maxwell on Thursday, February 11, 2021. [David Njaaga, Standard]

2. Simeon Nyachae

Simeon Nyachae died on February 1 at the age of 88.

He was the kingpin for the Kisii community and had served in senior leadership positions from independence in 1963 to 2007.

After retirement from the civil service, he joined politics in 1992 and was elected as an MP, a seat he retained in successive elections until 2007. 

Nyachae contested for presidency in 2002 and President Mwai Kibaki appointed him as Energy minister.

He retired from active politics in 2007. He was survived by five wives and 20 children.

Senator Haji was the chair of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) task force. [File, Standard]

3. Garissa Senator Mohamed Yussuf Haji

Two weeks after the death of Nyachae, Garissa Senator Mohamed Yussuf Haji died.

Haji was the chair of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) task force.

Haji died on February 15 after a long illness and was buried on the same day.

Haji, joined Kenya’s provincial administration in 1960 as a District Officer (DO) and rose through the ranks to become a Provincial Commissioner.

He died aged 80 and was succeeded by his son Abdul Haji.

Bonchari Member of Parliament John Oroo Oyioka during a past Public Participation function at Suneka town hall. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

4. MP John Oroo Oyioka

On the day that Haji died, people of Bonchari Constituency were mourning their MP, John Oroo Oyioka.

His family said the first term MP died after a long illness.

He was sponsored to the Parliament during the 2017 General Election by the Kenya African National Union.

President Uhuru Kenyatta lays a wreath at the graveside during the burial of the late Juja MP Francis Munyua Waititu held at the late legislators home in Juja, Kiambu County on March 2, 2021. [PSCU]

5. Francis Munyua Waititu

Francis Munyua Waititu died on February 22.  Waititu was diagnosed with cancer in India in October 2018. 

The father of four was a second-term Juja MP.

Before his death, the late legislator was pushing for construction of a cancer centre in Juja to ease the pain of Kenyans traveling abroad for cancer treatment.

He would say that some families and caregivers who accompany their loved ones to India suffer to an extent of sleeping in the street.

Waititu was known for his zealous support for legislation geared towards improvement of the agricultural sector and ease of doing business in Kenya.

6. Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli

On March 27, Tanzania’s then vice president Samia Suluhu announced the death of the country’s fifth President, John Pombe Magufuli.

The announcement brought to an end weeks of speculations on the whereabouts of the president who had been missing from public view for two weeks.

Magufuli was known for his skepticism towards coronavirus.

In June 2020, Magufuli declared Tanzania "Covid-19 free" saying the virus had been eradicated by three days of national prayer.

He died aged 61. His death paved way for Samia Suluhu to become the first woman president of Tanzania and in East Africa.

Kericho Deputy Governor Susan Kikwai died of Covid-19. [File, Standard]

7.  Susan Kikwai

Kericho Deputy Governor Susan Kikwai died on March 20 after a five-day fight with Covid-19.

Kikwai was a career civil servant and was the chief executive of Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) under the Ministry of Finance from 2005 to 2012.

Former Kibwezi Member of Parliament Richard Kalembe Ndile. [File, Standard]

8. Kalembe Ndile

The former Kibwezi MP died on May 29 while undergoing treatment for liver complications.

Ndile adopted the title ‘Son of a Squatter’ after his family lost their land. He joined politics in 2002 and clinched the Kibwezi parliamentary seat in that year's elections.

He failed to retain the seat in 2007, 2013 and later in a by-election.

He was an ardent fighter of the right of the underprivileged.

He served as the MP for Gem between 2002 and 2017. [File, Standard]

9. Jakoyo Midiwo

Former Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo died on June 14. He was 54.

He served as the MP for Gem between 2002 and 2017.

Jakoyo was also one of the leading champions of the Building Bridges Initiative.

Chris Kirubi graveside where he was buried at Bendor farm, Thika, Kiambu County, on Saturday, June 19, 2021. [Samson Wire, Standard].

10.  Chris Kirubi (DJ CK)

The 80-year-old business mogul died on June 14 after a long battle with cancer.

Kirubi had massive investments in publicly traded and private companies.

His business interests ranged from broadcasting to manufacturing.

CK, as he was popularly known, had a huge presence on social media through his business-related posts using the Twitter hashtag #AskKirubi. 

Monari was part of the legal team that represented President Uhuru Kenyatta during the 2017 Presidential Election Petition at the Supreme Court. [File, Standard]

11.  Lawyer Evans Monari

Evans Monari died on October 4 while undergoing treatment.

Monari was part of the legal team that represented President Uhuru Kenyatta during the 2017 Presidential Election Petition at the Supreme Court.

Kenyans were amused as the lawyer had penned his own eulogy. 

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i was among the leaders who praised Monari for his nonpartisanship.

Nominated Senator Victor Prengei. [File, Standard]

12.  Victor Prengei

Nominated Senator Victor Prengei died on August 1 in a road accident.

Zambia's former president Kenneth Kaunda. [Reuters]

13.   Kenneth Kaunda

Zambia’s founding President Kenneth Kaunda died on June 17, aged 97.

South African Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu died in a Cape Town nursing home. [File, Standard]

14.  Desmond Tutu

The South African Anglican bishop died in a Cape Town nursing home on December 26 aged 90.

Tutu won a Nobel Prize in 1984 for his work in the struggle to abolish the apartheid system. 

South Africa announced a week of mourning to honour the icon of peace and freedom.

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