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Kibaki's painful last days escape media eye

By Nzau Musau | Apr 22nd 2022 | 2 min read

Former President Mwai Kibaki, third president of the Republic of Kenya. [File, Standard]

Kenya's third President Mwai Kibaki breathed his last Friday morning surrounded by close family members, a family source disclosed to The Standard.

Kibaki had been at Nairobi Hospital for the last 14 days, fighting for his life as ill health and old age took a toll on him. His hospital stay, closely managed by aides, family and hospital management totally escaped the attention of the usually alert mainstream media and avid bloggers.

The entire cast of the active political class, whose nosy members would be leaking such information, were all immersed in the murk of nomination politics. "He had been unwell, for upwards of two weeks. All the while he was fighting it all well. Up until yesterday (Thursday), he was conversing albeit with difficulties," the source said.

According to the family, the man who ruled the country for 10 years, and who once served as Health Cabinet minister, old age had not been kind to him. He often checked into the hospital for one checkup or another. The more he aged the more frequent the visits became, and the longer he stayed with his doctors. "It had been an ongoing thing, and even this one we thought he was going to beat it his way," the source said.

His children had been keeping watch at the time and had been prepared for any eventuality. The source did not disclose the actual timing, saying the State took over everything from that time.

By the time President Uhuru Kenyatta was stepping out of State House to address the country, no one guessed the import of his address.

With visiting Heads of State in town, the closest guess taken was a briefing on regional peace and security. "It is my sorrowful duty to announce to the nation the passing of His Excellency Emilio Mwai Kibaki, the third president of the Republic of Kenya," Mr Kenyatta said.

Those who missed this historic line were surprised to catch up, with the President talking of his predecessor in past tense, to their consternation. "His Excellency Mwai Kibaki lived a dedicated life of public service..." the President picked up the second paragraph of his official statement.

Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua announced that a national funeral steering committee had been constituted to plan a befitting send-off for Kibaki.

He said the committee would convene tomorrow, Saturday and issue a detailed programme of events leading to a state funeral. "The programme shall include the dates and venues where the family shall receive visitors, and shall accord all Kenyans the opportunity to participate in paying of last respects to the former head of state," Mr Kinyua said.

Kibaki was 91.

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