By Kabando wa Kabando
Mzee Kimani wa Nyoike is one rare breed in a pioneering generation of founders and shapers of our great country. Well-read, memorably ventured publicly spirited servant. He featured prominently in the mid-1980s Voice of Kenya bulletins ‘Leo Katika Bunge‘ for his brilliant, bold and creative contributions in then largely muzzled Parliament.
As a young boy, I read in the then authoritative Weekly Review of his early international academic achievements and his indelible marks in trade unionism.
Gatabaki’s Finance also carried good stories of or about him. Flamboyant, bowtied, straight-up well-combed hair and spellbinding eloquence are Kimani Wa Nyoike’s trademarks.
I recall vividly as a high school student how the story of March 1988 tribulations of great and admirable politicians eg Wanyoike, Rubia, Ngengi, Sambu, Ngei, Mwamunga, Kairu happened.
Then, the increasingly intolerant KANU regime crafted — via propaganda paper Kenya Times and largely pro-system Weekly Review – cover story ‘Kibaki Factor’ about then VP Kibaki ostensibly “sponsoring” candidates across the country to rival Nyayoists.
Thanks to Gatabaki’s Finance magazine, NCCK’s Beyond (superbly edited by bold Bedan Mbugwa), Nyamora’s Society and other covert publications, we got the other sides of the stories.
Credibly so. And so, youngsters like yours truly came to know of the troubles and tribulations afflicting Kimani wa Nyoike.
How on the eve and during KANU’s notorious mlolongo (queue) voting, he and even his child were arrested by local perpetrators of electoral fraud led by area district officer.
The shortest lines became the longest! As Ngengi would famously quip, “what is done in darkest shall one day be shouted from the rooftops.”
And, “this is not rigging, this is daylight robbery… rigging requires some intelligence,” summed up Mwai Kibaki in a rare display of public anger. I was so glad to witness, live, the flamboyance, courage, and eloquence of the affable Master of Ceremony at Ford’s launch rally at the city’s Kamukunji grounds.
Indeed, this was a first. The return of Kimani Wa Nyoike on the turn of Kenya to political pluralist tide.
I had the opportunity to meet him face to face many times thereafter, as I, with peers and seniors, meandered the streets of the capital city in pursuit of the goodness of freshly produced democratic menu, courtesy of sacrifices of the Nyoikes’.
When in 2019, I chanced Mzee Wanyoike at United Kenya Club, he gave me his business card and invited me to his Athi River home “to see our beautiful project,” it was with his proverbial smile, seriousness blended in captivating banter.
Ever jovial, elucidate and smiling into addictive laughter. Hon Kimani wa Nyoike is of a generation that inspired many of us in many ways, as we walked miles from our village hamlets to get old copies of newspapers or begged our peasant parents to reward our farm labor by buying the Weekly Review when they visited “towns” so we could sip political soup.
That’s before we arrived in town. So, the kind of patriotic nationalist Kimani wa Nyoike are parents to generations far beyond our geographical continent.
He definitely shaped our national dialogue and trends. What inspires more when we know more about Kimani wa Nyoike et al: they served, impacted and exited the leadership scene and earthly life without loads of corruption that is so now the brand and the custom of domination.
It is not easy celebrating these icons amidst narratives of “development conscious leaders.” Kenya would be richer if their voices in the wilderness were, indeed, voices in palaces local and national.
My mind travels back to Kamukunji 1991. The persuasive voice of Kimani wa Nyoike echoes from springs and rivers.
The voice of Kimani Wa Nyoike reverberates from molehills to mountains. The breath stills, yet the voice rings on.
His legacy endures. Fare thee well great man. Rest with the angels…… the statesmen you so well moderated…. Jaramogi, Bamariz, Muliro, Shikuku, Nthenge, Gachoka for Matiba rest in wait of honor and grace, as George Nthenge – waved on by Muite’s, Orengo’s, Raila’s and Imanyara of Young Turkish mien – wags the flywhisk of ” LIVE O……, never say die”. Your spirit travels on…from mîtambûrûko ya Nyandarûa…… to MIT.
Rest in peace hero. Amen.
Kabando wa Kabando is the former Mukurweini Constituency MP.