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VAS

MEETING WITH THE TOTAL MAN THAT NEVER WAS

UREPORT
By BY PHILEMON KIPROP | July 22nd 2017

I received a call from my monthly newspaper editor one eventful afternoon of October 2014. He delivered somewhat a peculiar docket of what was to be covered in the subsequent edition. I was then stationed in Iten covering Elgeyo Marakwet and its environs.

After exchanging few pleasantries, my boss went straight to the point. “Nicholas Biwot has been missing in the political limelight since he lost the senatorial seat last year. Having been a senior politician that shaped politics in your county of jurisdiction, could you look for him and file a comprehensive story of his life and contributions”, were the instructions that pierced my heart.

He continued “this must be the story of the year. Do your research and execute your mission” he concluded. The assignment as it was got me thinking. Of all people the Total man? “Let me try my best,” I replied.

I spent days mooting for the way out. As a young journalist, I knew the magnitude of the assignment that could have an impact in my career. I had interacted and interviewed some prominent leaders in the county and beyond but no one could match Biwott’s calibre.

The last time I saw the Total Man was during the 2013 campaign trail in my routine news-gathering. He looked old and frail. Then, emerged questions about his health, a fact I was keen on while preparing to meet Karnet (steel) as he was referred to.

David Kendagor came to my mind. Kendagor now MCA aspirant for Moiben Kuserwo Ward in Elgeyo Marakwet played a pivotal role during Biwott’s senatorial bid as the chief campaigner. I approached him and promised to link me to William Chepkut, a long-serving personal assistant of the fallen leader.

Chepkut who runs Eldoret’s Marriotte Hotel is now vying for the Ainabkoi parliamentary seat.

After days I received a call from Chepkut. He asked what exactly I wanted from the former powerful cabinet minister. I explained myself. After listening to my explanation keenly for about two minutes, he replied: “mzee hataki hii maneno ya waandishi lakini kwa sababu umenieleza nitakupatia appointment next week on Thursday”. I sighed with relief seeing my mission coming closer to accomplishment.

I did my research preparing for the D day. Among areas I included in my questionnaires were the coveted state the politician enjoyed and his track record that changed his constituency. It was a chance of giving the politician a platform to express his feelings on the Kalenjin leadership under DP William Ruto given the fact that he was a de facto community leader and his closeness to the former head of state Daniel Moi.

Controversies that surrounded his career met to the list. His linking to the murder of Dr. Robert Ouko and allegations that he sidelined the Marakwet community during his tenure.

Chepkut instructed me to meet him in Marriotte Hotel in the outskirts of Eldoret town. I set off with my tools of trade; notebook, camera and recorder. On arrival, Chepkut ushered me in and led me to a waiting room. Numerous thoughts ran through my mind.

Chepkut later came with a shocker. “Mzee hatapatikana kwa hii interview yako. Wewe rudi. Nafasi ikipatikana nitakuita.”

My dream of meeting the Total Man came down crashing.

Biwott lived an eccentric life surrounded with secrecy and mystery that made him difficult to be tracked and met. Now that he has departed, his departure leaves my questions unanswered with my valuable notebook gathering dust in my library.

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