Kenneth Matiba’s politics extended beyond tribe


SUMMARY

Veteran Kenyan politician Kenneth Matiba died Sunday evening at the age of 85 years, members of his family have confirmed.

Matiba died while undergoing treatment at the Karen Hospital ICU in Nairobi after suffering from cardiac arrest.

He was hospitalized for 55 days and on a ventilator for the past two weeks.

Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba was a man of many firsts. In the education sector, business and politics, Matiba was a resolute leader who executed his mission with military precision.

And whenever obstacles were put in his way, he would forego the trappings of power by resigning. He set the record as the first public servant to resign from retired President Moi’s Cabinet. ​

During and after the clamour for multi-party democracy, Matiba’s political base was never defined by his tribal roots. Some of us who were young then didn’t take cognisance of the fact that Matiba was Kikuyu.

I remember with nostalgia how his campaign galvanised the Western province, which voted overwhelmingly for him.

To check his huge support, Kanu operatives warned the locals against ever flashing the two-finger salute. Unlike leaders who dish out party nomination certificates to cronies, relatives and sycophants, Matiba is remembered as the only politician in post-multiparty Kenya who allowed and facilitated his party to conduct free and fair nominations. Being a generous man, he used his resources to facilitate the democratic exercise.

Matiba set the bar high when he facilitated Ford-Asili party to use transparent boxes to conduct nominations. As a primary school child, I got to know about him through my father, who had great respect for the Opposition chief.

His faith in the power of ‘Wanjiku’ was exhibited when he declared “let the people decide” following his disagreement with Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

As the curtain falls on the Opposition hero, his death must cause our politicians to reflect on his values and work towards achieving his dreams.

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