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DP William Ruto: When Nyachae ‘caned’ us

By Mercy Asamba | February 15th 2021


Deputy President William Ruto has recalled how he fell victim to the late Simeon Nyachae’s disciplinary ways.

Ruto said the former Cabinet Minister occasionally took out the cane and “straightened people.”

The DP told mourners who had gathered at Gusii Stadium, in Kisii County, to pay their last respects to the late Nyachae, that he was among those that happened to be “beneficiaries of Mzee Nyachae’s cane.”

“Apart from the blows and the other measures that were meted on his immediate family, those of us in politics, he also did not spare us,” he confessed, adding that despite his strictness, Nyachae was a loving and forgiving father to many.

He recalled when together with Omingo Magara, they faced Nyachae’s wrath when the duo apparently misbehaved in Nyamarambe in Kisii County.      

“Michael, (Nyachae’s son), is actually the person Mzee sent to collect the cane,” he added.

The DP further described Nyachae as a great patriotic Kenyan, consummate administrator and a great businessman.

“With a humble posho mill and a small bakery he built a huge business empire that not only created opportunity, it created wealth and jobs. That is the lesson that mzee gives to us as the people of Kenya,” he said.

Deputy President William Ruto addressing mourners at Gusii Stadium. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Despite his demise, Nyachae’s legacy will live on through his influence on some of the current leaders. They include Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper’s leader Kalonzo Musyoka, and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

According to the Baringo Senator, the family of Nyachae and that of the late former President Daniel Moi had a rich history.

“The day we’re resting mzee, it’s important we reflect on his life. He was a man of great character, intelligent man, loyal man, we will miss him… If you have to learn something from Mzee (Nyachae), it’s that to reach the pinnacle of your career, in personal and business, you do not have to steal. You do not have to use shortcuts,” Gideon said.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga addressing mourners at Gusii Stadium. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Raila, on the other hand, described the former Cabinet Minister as a great Kenyan and a great human being.

The ODM leader recalled how Nyachae was unhappy with him after he ‘betrayed’ him (Nyachae) to endorse Mwai Kibaki ahead of the 2002 elections and how they would later work together in spite of that.

“Nyachae excelled as an administrator and eventually in the civil service, and then as cabinet minister. When he resigned as Minister for Finance, we were now with him on the backbench,” Raila said.

Mudavadi who served with Nyachae in Moi’s cabinet said Nyachae was a Chief Secretary, but he never proclaimed himself as one.

“Mzee Nyachae was a Chief Secretary, but he never proclaimed himself as the Chief Secretary, you just felt it. There are people in this country who are fond of reminding us of their positions as if we don't know,” he said.

The ANC party leader was Finance Minister while Nyachae headed the Agriculture docket in Moi’s cabinet. The two would swap ministries following the 1997 election.

Mr Kalonzo, who was Minister for Foreign Affairs between 1993 and 1997, said Nyachae was a man with great heart. He described the events that preceded his swearing in after he was appointed as an assistant minister.

“When I first came face to face with Mzee Nyachae, I had just been appointed Assistant Minister by Mzee Moi… Mzee Nyachae was the one who was to swear me in,” he recalled.

Mourners seated at Gusii Stadium in Kisii County. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Nyachae joined politics in 1992 and served as Nyaribari Chache MP for 15 years. He contested the presidency in 2002 on a Ford-Kenya ticket. He finished third after Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta.

He died on February 1, aged 88. His family confirmed he was diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and received treatment in Kenya and the UK.

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