In another life, I was a useful rugby player although I retired too early even before my full potential could be realized. But I did try to stage a comeback once or twice. On one of those come back attempts I met a sensationally explosive and very talented young winger. We played for the same club. His second name was Ligale and in one drunken moment of weakness after the game he blurted out that when he was through with school (he was still a schoolboy then but playing club rugby nevertheless) he would love more than anything else to be a PS in government, just like dad had been for many years.
His words haunted me for years after that. Indeed they came back vividly recently when it was reveled that the immediate former Vihiga legislator Andrew Ligale would chair the highly sensitive but crucial Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission. (IIBRC). I immediately knew that there was trouble ahead. ASnd indeed trouble came.
Back in the old days when I myself was still a schoolboy and my dad worked for the government we lived in Kileleshwa. In those days there were still plenty of houses for government employees in this leafy suburb and many of them that were built in the colonial days and were becoming an eyesore as “private developers” put up lavish houses right next to them after purchasing some of the old houses from the government. The “developers” would promptly demolish the old houses and put up apartments or classy massionettes. It was in this kind of unfolding scenario that we lived right opposite the “stinking wealthy” Ligale family. At that time the rugby star was too young and the only person I remember well was his dazzling much older sister whom I made a spirited bid for but failed in what is obviously not a tale for this political blog.
So how did Mr Ligale make his money? The man is extremely wealthy too wealthy to have made it all from investing his salary whilst working for government.
Of course the official story is that he worked hard in the civil service, climbed up the ranks and made the right investments. His CV reveals something else. Ligale joined the Ministry of Lands and Settlement in 1966 in a junior position and climbed through the ranks until he became director of Physical planning. For those unfamiliar with the territory under discussion, when you mention the word “land” in Kenya you awaken terrible murderous basic instincts in many Kenyans. They stem for a desire to own large tracts of dirt at all costs. They will bribe, kill, maim and generally do anything they have to do to get land for themselves. Many Kenyan families have made fortunes from the land racket in Kenya and Andrew Ligale’s name can not be left out of that list.
Playing the land game and yet being from the wrong tribe (that is not a Kikuyu during the Kenyatta era) there is no doubt that the man was forced to develop survival skills to implement exactly the right kind of politics to ensure that he not only amassed cash and property but was also able to fully protect his wealth. The kind of wealth that made such an impression on his young son that he was able to blurt out in a drunken moment of weakness that he wanted above all to be a PS in the Kenya government.
Unfortunately it is politics from that era that Mr Ligale decided to play as chair of the IIBRC. A lot has been said in support of the Ligale commission and against it but how do you explain the fact that his very own Vihiga constituency was split into two? Ligale was MP for the area for two terms from 1992 to 1997 and from 2002 to 2007. He was defeated in the ODM nominations in 2007 but retained very close contact with the ODM high command which is what bagged him the IIBRC job.
Ligale is a smart man but even smart people get overtaken by events when changes are happening as fast as they are in Kenya. The impunity was obvious in Ligale’s tone of voice when he arrogantly told members of the press that those who were not happy with the work of his commission were welcome to go to court.
I have a feeling that history will not be so kind to Andrew Ligale. It will be recorded that he had his opportunity to make his contribution to the new Kenya but squandered it on the altar of political gain. A man with a long history of using his public appointments for personal gain.
1966-1978: Ministry of Land& Settlement
(rose to become Director, of Physical Planning)
1979-1991: P.S. Various Ministries
1997-2002: Chairman Consolidated Bank of Kenya
1952: Chanzeywe Primary School
1953-1956: Chavavo Intermediate School
1957-1960: Friends School Kamusinga
1961-1962: Alliance High School
1963-1966: Makerere University, Uganda (B.A. Hons. Degree)
1966-1968 Nottingham University (M.A. Degree)
Period Served in Parliament
1992-1997 , Re-elected 27th December 2002
See older Kumekucha article: The Andrew Ligale Gideon Moi cash distributing link.