Family and friends are still coming to terms with the sudden death of Baringo Deputy Governor Charles Kipng’ok just three weeks after his election.
Kipng’ok died on Wednesday evening at JKIA in Nairobi as he prepared to board a flight to Mombasa.
He was elected alongside his boss Benjamin Cheboi.
The deputy governor is said to have developed breathing difficulties at around 7pm. He was pronounced dead by the medical personnel before the plane took off, reports indicated.
Back in his Kirobon village, residents described Kipng’ok as a generous, humble and visionary leader.
His mother, Tungo Kipng’ok, was inconsolable. “This news has really shocked me. I don’t even know what to say. I have lost my great son.”
The deceased’s wife Lornah Kipng’ok said her husband was fine when he left home. “That is why I did not understand it when I was told he collapsed and died. This news is very shocking,” said Lornah.
According to the family, Kipng’ok did not show any signs of illness and only learnt of his death through the media.
To the villagers, Kipng’ok was one of their gallant sons who sacrificed to support many of them. They said they had hoped that Kipng’ok, in his new position as deputy governor, would uplift their living standards and improve government services in the village.
“One thing that stood out was his generosity. He has paid school fees for many poor children in this village. He was always solving problems. He was a workaholic and Baringo will really miss his services,” said Caroline Onchoka, a neighbour.
Another family member, David Tarus, said: “His death was too sudden. He was not sick and has always been healthy.”
“Before he plunged into politics, he informed all of us and as a family, we were happy with his decision. We had a lot of expectations, not just his family, but the entire community as well. He was a performer,” said Tarus.
According to his family, Kipng’ok and Cheboi had planned to visit all public hospitals, within the first 21 days of their administration, to take stock of what ails them and work out a plan to improve the services they offer.
The duo started the visits a day after being sworn in on August 25.
On September 4, Kipngok visited Marigat Town to assess the damage caused by flash floods that had hit the area.
The deputy governor was among the first responders following the floods and assured residents that the county government would continue to work with its partners to develop programmes that will eliminate the problem of flooding.
President William Ruto was among those who mourned Kipng’ok, describing him as an amiable, astute and highly accomplished public servant who had an enviable track record of success in the tea sub-sector.
“The sudden death of my friend Charles Kipng’ok is a big blow not only to his family, friends, the government and residents of Baringo County but to the entire country, especially the tea sub-sector where he excelled for decades before recently opting to join elective politics,” Ruto said.
On Thursday, Cheboi described the death of his deputy was devastating, not only to his family but also to the residents.
“I take this moment, with a heavy heart, to convey my condolences to the family (wife and children), relatives, friends, and people of Baringo County and the country. Please remember the heartbroken family in prayers.”
Former area governor Stanley Kiptis termed Kipng’ok a hardworking man who did not even take a break after the tedious campaign period.
Kericho governor Erick Mutai, his Bomet counterpart Hillary Barchok, Nakuru Deputy Governor David Kones, Bomet Senator Hillary Sigei, MPs Reuben Kiborek (Mogotio), Joseph Makilap (Baringo North) among others, also sent their condolences.