If death, always lurking in the shadows, ominous and foreboding, were to manifest itself to you, would you face it or cower?
Have you merely existed rather than lived, thence the thought of closing your eyes, never to flutter them open again sends you recoiling into silence, your senses eroded by fear? Have you embraced life, with all its intrigues, chaotic beauty, camouflaged insecurities, havoc, blinding pain, laughter, memories, triumphs and disaster so that when the time comes, you’d say I am ready?
Mzee Jackson Kibor did. A man who mastered the art of life - the pleasures, the opportunities and the lessons and whose travails have been immortalized via the laurel of ‘Chairman of the Men’s Conference.’
Two years ago, he gave an interview in one of the local dailies where he audaciously said he was ready for his demise, averring that having seen and done it all, he would gladly join his ancestors.
And so yesterday, the big tree fell. I feel compelled to show my admiration and adulation in this piece.
I scribble my paean to a man who from my lenses, embodied the real African man. Men who were made of pluck, tenacity, values, staggering determination and surplus of virility. A far cry from the testosterone starved sissies and horrendous excuses of masculinity roaming in these modern times.
When he could not continue with his education in 1957, he dropped out and became a herdboy, farmhand before secretly learning how to drive at a timber company. Armed with this skill, he began driving lorries for the late Jonathan Kibogy as well as Chirchir Masit.
Ambition coursed through his veins, a proprietorial aura that lacks in so many of this generation. He would buy a bag of potatoes at Ksh6 in Chepkorio and Metkei and sell it in Kampala for Ksh16. Over time, he made enough money to buy a truck of his own after which more followed. He did not sit back and tweet about his misfortunes, or morph into a bitter young man at war with everything and everyone including himself.
Later, he borrowed Ksh55,000 from the Land Bank and topped with his Ksh35, 000 with which he bought his first piece of land; 840 acres in Kipkabus. Meet team sipangwingwi, who take loans so that they can upgrade their lifestyles so as to impress strangers and pay for weaves and alcohol for slay queens. Only to turn around and blame their stagnant lives on Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Talk of a self-made man. Bow in shame, ye generation of 30 something-year-old men sleeping on their parents’ couch, binging on Netflix, junk food and nudes while they’re referred to as ‘Daddy’ by their failed parents.
When four of his sons tried selling off his properties without consent, he pulled a gun on them in a show of, ‘you better get your butts up and go hustle for your own wealth, respect mine.’ It is not belligerence; it is tough love.
Mzee had four wives. Sadly, the first that he fondly reminisced about died. What I revere about the epoch of men during Kibor’s time, they were not pretentious. Modern men will foam from both ends of the mouth over how polygamy is outdated, medieval practice but will have a wife, a mistress he maintains, a girlfriend he spoils, and still have one-night stands with random tarts. Yet all he gets in return is chlamydia, herpes, lousy BJ, and dented pocket.
While others have tagged him as litigious, I dare posit that he was nothing but a decisive and thorough man, one who would not allow anyone to gnaw on his peace. Thus when the second and third wives became acrimonious, he dragged them to corridors of justice and was granted divorce on both occasions.
Then to show them that he has not lost his charm, despite a creaking bone here, a greying hair there, he married a woman 50 years younger and took her to the maternity, a solid five times. Now that is a legend.
Granted, he had a ting of uppity, but that comes with having money. I mean, starting as an almost chokoraa, to importing six Mercedes cars, a little arrogance doesn’t hurt. Strutting on these mere earthlings is no crime, yes? I was utterly tickled when Eldoret county tax collectors impounded his V8, he bought a cutting saw and cut off the chains. Man could literally park in the middle of the road and no one would bother him.
But he also punched a dose of sobering truth to the powers that be, who were otherwise high on their own supply. In 1992, as a KANU stalwart, while others worshipped the throne, he challenged the late Moi to groom and support a successor. It goes without saying that he was bundled to Statehouse and made to kneel and apologize. If only Moi had listened, perhaps he would not have left power a ridiculed man.
Invited to the 2020 Men’s Conference, Kibor who often shared nuggets with men on love, sex and success warned young men against staggering to bed inebriated every night. He leaves behind a brood of over 25 children and vast wealth. But most especially, a life that can act as a roadmap to the current generation. Especially on hard work, being yourself, how to relate with others and leaving an imprint.
the words of Maya Angelou; Great souls die and our reality, bound to them, takes
leave of us. Our souls, dependent upon their nurture, now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed and informed by their radiance, fall away. We are not so much maddened as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of dark, cold caves.
Get in touch with Aoko Otieno via: [email protected]
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are the writer’s. They do not necessarily reflect views of K24 Digital or Mediamax Network Limited.