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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Who is Mwai Kibaki?

One of the few things that Kenyans already knew about Mwai Kibaki early on and had known for decades was the fact that he was a brilliant scholar. Of that there is no doubt. Ever since his much older brother in-law a Paul Muruthi had insisted that the young Mwai go to school instead of grazing his father’s herd of sheep and cattle, the young lad seemed a permanent feature right at the very top of his class wherever he went. It is widely know that he was the first African to get the maximum 6 points in his O-levels.

Mwai was the last born son of peasant farmers in Othaya, Gatoyaini village and his father was called Kibaki Githinji and his mother Teresia Wanjiku. Both are long deceased.

It is instructive that on taking over the presidency, the very first thing Kibaki did was to declare free primary school education to all even when the government did not know how it was all going to be financed. It was not like Kibaki a world renowned economist to make such a reckless move.
Mwai Kibaki: Kenyans still don't really know him.

In an ABC Prime Time TV interview in the US in 2004 former US President Bill Clinton identified Kibaki as the one living person he would most like to meet “because of the Kenyan government’s decision to abolish school fees for primary education”. Clinton added that, by providing free and compulsory primary education, what Kibaki had done would affect more lives than any president had done or would ever do by the end of the first year. The free education programme saw nearly 1.7 million more pupils enrol in school by the end of that year. Clinton’s wish was granted when he visited Kenya and met Kibaki on 22nd July 2005.

But to those who knew Kibaki a little better, it is no surprise that education would be so close to the president’s heart. After all a decision to take him to school so many years earlier had made the whole difference. In deed if there was ever a person for whom it would be said that education had opened all political doors for them, then Mwai Kibaki has to be at the top of that list.

For starters Kanu fetched him from Makerere University, Uganda for him to be Kenya’s first executive officer because it was felt that the Kanu leadership lacked enough depth due to the poor educational background of most. Even Tom Mboya, the most brilliant politician Kenya has seen, did not have a university degree. After independence in 1963 Kibaki quickly found himself at the heart of the country’s financial and economic planning. A parliamentary seat was found for him and won for him by Mboya (this was for Donholm Constituency, subsequently called Bahati and now known as Makadara, in Nairobi) and he was quickly appointed assistant minister and chairman of the powerful Economic Planning Commission in 1963 before he was even 32 years old. He was in the cabinet a short three years later as Minister of commerce and industry and in 1969 became the powerful Finance minister. By any standards this was a very rapid climb. All these doors were opened by his solid educational credentials which were rare in those days and badly required by the young Kenyan nation.

Kibaki himself recognizes this and greatly values educational credentials as we have already seen.

However the down side of this rapid climb which many have still not seen is that Kibaki never had the chance to cut his teeth properly as a bare knuckled politician. This glaring weakness was to show itself many years later when he climbed to the very top of Kenyan politics and became president. It is true to say that of all the three Kenyan presidents, Kibaki was the least qualified as a politician to hold the office.

In many ways this explains the way he has always ended up in the kind of troubles that a more savvy politician would easily have avoided. It also explains why Kibaki has always been the reluctant politician terrified of mudding himself in the normal political mud wrestling that goes with the trade. In fact many times he has gone to great lengths to avoid the “politics”. Odd for a man who has been a politician for so long.

Fascinatingly this characteristic served him very well in two important stepping stones to the presidency.

The first was as Daniel arap Moi’s vice president (1978 to 1988). It is important to note that Moi had greatly preferred Jeremiah Nyagah and was determined to appoint him as his Vice president on taking over power in August 1978 from Jomo Kenyatta. But Charles Njonjo, then the AG and whom we have seen held Moi’s hand through his first uneasy steps as president, advised him to appoint Kibaki instead. And Njonjo knew the right arguments to use to convince Moi. He knew that Moi was terrified of the Kikuyu as a political threat and Njonjo told him, Kibaki would be the perfect “window dressing” for Kikuyus to feel that nothing had changed much for them even after the death of Jomo.

Kibaki settled into the Vice presidency and literally “disappeared.” Which meant that there was absolutely no possibility of him ever overshadowing Moi? In those early years Kibaki concentrated on his Finance docket and visitors to Kenya would have found it hard to guess that he was actually also the Vice president.

The second time his hatred of bare-knuckle politics helped him out was as leader of the official opposition in 1998. Kibaki became leader of the opposition by virtue of his DP (Democratic Party of Kenya) political party being the opposition party with most seats in parliament. Most DP legislators hailed from the Kikuyu tribe who are usually loud and controversial in their politics by nature. Kibaki’s quite, sober character that avoided petty politics at all costs gave the party a much better image than it deserved and raised Kibaki’s profile immensely as a voice of reason in the usually radical opposition. This served him considerably well and later helped Kenyans across the political divide quickly warm to him as the opposition candidate in 2002. This was in itself amazing because before Kibaki took the helm the country had been served by only two presidents and one of them had been Kikuyu. And therefore it stood to reason that the third president should NOT be a Kikuyu. More blunt Kenyans would have told you that they had already had their turn to eat. This is one of the reasons why Moi was so sure of himself in selecting Uhuru Kenyatta as the Kanu candidate because he was certain that the opposition candidate would not be a Kikuyu and he would therefore have a huge advantage and an easy win in fronting Uhuru for the presidency. No serious presidential candidate in Kenya can ever afford to ignore the sheer numbers of the Kikuyu community.

But in retrospect Kenyans now know that they elected a man that they hardly knew to be their third president. And yet many mistakenly felt that they knew him well enough because he had been in politics for so long. Nobody wanted to remember that he was the longest serving non-politician in Kenyan politics and that the country would pay a very high price mainly because of this fact.


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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chris said,

..........Most DP legislators hailed from the Kikuyu tribe who are usually loud and controversial in their politics by nature.

1) Correction: that tag belongs elsewhere - Kikuyus are suvvy and NOT loud not controversial but CALCULATIVE with singular objective.

Myth2: Kibaki may have been brilliant as per his peers but that brilliance went to his head as his KUMBAFU/MAVI YA KUKU's contempt for al else shows.

BTW he had a 1st class at LSE after repeating undergrad. Why would one need two bachelors. FYI postgrad degree is NEVER classified as 1st class etc. In short Kibaki treats all else as the village vagabind he defeated in class.

Anonymous said...

The "NO" camp is gaining momentum. Even in previously "YES" zones like Murang'a I was surprised this weekend to find the people beginning to question how the two court systems will function - "the Islamic Courts and the Normal Courts" as they were calling them. The "NO" propaganda is beginning to take root. And this issue of land needs to be explained. Some quarks are telling the people that Kikuyus will lose all the lands they have bought outside Kikuyuland. Also, some clergy are telling men that their wives will be aborting behind their backs!!!

I tell you the game has entered contact time.

Anonymous said...

correction please!kibaki never came up with the free education polcy.
raila did it was first in the LDP manifesto.thank you very much.
kibaki is simply a greedy tribal thief/chief.

Anonymous said...

Chris nys bed time classic bt bro the book itself can not pass a literature class hall of critics! As a literature lecturer I find the use of so many Mays n Mights as jst a work of fiction n smtyms driven by sheer malice n propaganda. Chris wacha wivu n try 2 b objecive next tym!!

Anonymous said...

No better idiot than an intellectual pretender who talks big praising others without showing what s/he is made of. It is easier to excuse a tout for ass licking but it is difficult for shameless fool to gain anything by being an e-AIRHEAD.

Michael Mwaura said...

Anonymous said...

Chris nys bed time classic bt bro the book itself can not pass a literature class hall of critics! As a literature lecturer I find the use of so many Mays n Mights as jst a work of fiction n smtyms driven by sheer malice n propaganda. Chris wacha wivu n try 2 b objecive next tym!!
------------
What kind of literature lecturing do you do? Text Messaging? What is tym? Is it so hard to write TIME?
Please do think about taking ESL (English as a second language) lessons
Kumekucha Proof-reader

Mwarang'ethe said...

brother in-law a Paul Muruthi had insisted that the young Mwai go to school instead of grazing his father’s herd of sheep and cattle,

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Why all this propaganda Chris? What is special about this idea of hearding goats?

Some of us would go to school and in the afternoon graze goats and cows while swimming in local rivers and hunting squirrels. So, nothing special here if he had to stop grazing so as to learn. We did both.

More seriously, when you say Kibaki was or is brilliant, you ought to proceed and show us the results of his brilliancy. The tree must be known by its fruits. You have done none of this.

For instance, he was the author of the infamous Sessional Paper No. 10on African Socialism and its Application to Planning in Kenya.

This was a paper which even Obama's father saw thru and said was just rubbish. As a matter of fact, Obama's criticism of this paper has turned our to be right.

Secondly, we are told that a lot of industries were started when he was in charge. That is true. But, it was so because at that time in history, we had Import Substitution Industrialization Strategy.

More so, the industrial growth in all LDCS at that time averaged 5-6%. So, nothing that he did was decisive.

We are told that, he took Kenya thru the 1973 "oil crisis." But how? By borrowing. When he borrowed, the interest rates were very low. However, after 1979, Kenya had to pay interest to the tune of 18%.

As a result of these loan payments, social services like schools, started going down. Due to massive ignorance and propaganda, all this has been blamed on Moi.

As we entered 1980's proper, the IMF/WB accomplished complete takeover/recolonisation of Africa/LDC such that, our economy was in free fall since Import Substitution was abandoned. Once again, all this was blamed on Moi for obvious reasons.

When Kibaki became the president in 2002, he knew or he should have known these facts. With such facts in his mind, he would have steered Kenya in a different direction. However, he did not.

As concerns Clinton and his admiration of "free education," you ought to see crocodile tears when you see them.

In 1990, WB/IMF under Clinton was at its peak in dismantling poor nations. For instance, in Haiti, he removed Aristide from power for asking EPZ workers to be paid $ 50 cents instead of $ 30 cents an hr.

If Clinton loves education of the poor African, why would he have found it necessary to support slavery wages which make it impossible for parents to pay school fees?

More so, the whole agenda of "free" stuff from the govenment is a dangerous delusion. It is all meant to expand the govt. and thereby, control all aspects of our lives.

The best way of providing education is to have well paid citizens who will have liberty to make choices. That was, and should still be the objective of democracy. In this area, he has failed miserably.

Anonymous said...

Prof Mwarang'ethe said,
.....when you say Kibaki was or is brilliant, you ought to proceed and show us the results of his brilliancy.....

Come on prof, you are letting down your chering crowd. Noun form is BRILLIANCE, ama?

And while still dispensing your UTOPIAN prescription ever heard of these two expressions:

1) Living in your head

2) Intuitive dimensions of reality?

Anonymous said...

Ruling not on DRAFT constitution but on current constitution.

How can they make a rule on a non existing constitution.

The ruling dies with current constitution in August

Referendum can never be stopped!A constitutional court on Monday declared the inclusion of Kadhis courts in current Constitution illegal and discriminatory.

The landmark ruling was made by Justices Joseph Nyamu, Mathew Emukule and Roselyne Wendoh following a case that was filed in 2004.

Anonymous said...

Chris asked: "who is Mwai Kibaki?"

Our answer:
Mwai Kibaki is the third President of Republic of Kenya! And the first democratically elected President of Kenya up to now.
Swali ingine?

Kumekucha Princess

Mwarang'ethe said...

Anonymous said...
Prof Mwarang'ethe said,
.....when you say Kibaki was or is brilliant, you ought to proceed and show us the results of his brilliancy.....

Come on prof, you are letting down your chering crowd. Noun form is BRILLIANCE, ama?

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

The word is cheering not chering ama?

Anonymous said...

Mwarang'ethe,
Get out of the sewer. You have played right into the devil's hands and you will be promptly be defeated with experience.

Stop hair splitting. Smart guys like you accept mistakes. You cannot compare spelling with noun forms, can you?

luke said...

Chris,
come on be a man and do a post on who is Kalonzo Musyoka-
you still haven't answered my question-nani kama KM in the whole of Ukambani?

Anonymous said...

Ati Kibaki is the first democratically elected President of Kenya up to now? No wonder some people are so insecure they shamelessly flout their gender and school (LSE) to gain credibility. GB never ignored the fake genocide petition for nothing.

It is a huge burden being an AIRHEAD. But to wrap folly in lies is the height of pure deceit. Another exotic lie please!

Anonymous said...

Kibaki is the toad that came into the village at a time when 80% of the village population wanted to get rid of the unpopular village reptilian tyrant.

So, the seemingly shy toad (so he seemed and so they thought) was welcomed and given the mantle to clean out the dirty village pond during a five year transition period.

But when the muddy spell was broken and the villagers were clamouring for real change, the one time shy toad became belligerently drunk with power and refused to vacate the village pond at any cost.

The toad at the helm of the village pond decided to bury itself deeper and deeper into the middle of the village pond without regard for the village as a whole or the number of the villagers who would suffer or get killed during a muddy stamped around the pond.

The toad's ascend at the helm of the village pond is reminiscent of the carmel that begged to shelter it's head in the owner's tent during a brutal sandstorm, and the rest is history.

Who is the toad? Your guess is good as mine.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Who would have believed that there would come a day when people like John Njue would see eye to eye with people like Pat Roberston and have dealings with them behind closed doors when it come to dealing with our fellow Kenyan sisters and brothers, who happen to be members of the Islamic faith?

Money corrupts and money is the root of all problems inherited from Cain the son of Adam.

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