The late President Mwai Kibaki was once forced to eat straight from a sufuria when he was late for a presidential event, revealed a former aide to President Daniel arap Moi.
The incident happened In 1985, when Kibaki, the then-vice president, was late for a public rally and found the president’s aides eating lunch, said Moi’s longtime publicist Lee Njiru.
“We were in Wote in Makueni and he came too late and found us eating at a Sufuria with an aide to Mzee Moi, Major Wilson Boinett (he later became Brigadier and Director of Intelligence). We were short of plates,” he recalled.
“Kibaki didn’t want to be seen by Mzee Moi. He came into a room with us, washed his hands and started eating meat from the Sufuria.”
Mr Njiru continued, “He said to me, ‘Njiru, let me show you how it’s done.’ We ate together from the same sufuria, the three of us – Kibaki, Boinett and myself. When he was done, he washed his hands and asked me: “Le e Njiru, how’s the news?’ Until this moment, when I meet Brigadier Boinett, that’s our salutation. I greet him: ‘Boinett, what’s the news?'”
Mr Njiru also recalled an incident in Embu when Kibaki was campaigning in 2002 and he was in a hotel.
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“I came over and didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to be seen with him in opposition,” he said.
I don’t understand
“When he saw me, he said to the politicians around him around: ‘You Embu people are interesting people, you gave birth to Lee Njiru who understands Moi. I don’t understand what Moi is saying, but when I read the newspapers in the morning I understand what he said the day before. Her son is the only person who understands Moi best. He had a good sense of humor.”
Mr Njiru said that Kibaki was his own man and not easily influenced by tribal groups.
“In 1968, when Mzee Jomo Kenyatta fell ill and was in a coma, the Kikuyu community leaders near Mzee Kenyatta began forming groups to fight Moi and lay the groundwork for Kenyatta succession. Kibaki has not joined any factions. He remained independent. He followed his own conscience,” he said.
One of Kibaki’s greatest leadership qualities, he said, was not insulting him, even when he disagreed with someone.
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“He approached things with humor and like a gentleman. The late Cabinet Minister Elijah Mwangale campaigned against him in his hometown of Nyeri, but the late Mzee Kibaki did not attack Mwangale with poison as many politicians would today. He simply referred to Mwangale as a political tourist. He didn’t use vulgar language,” he said.
“He expressed his displeasure with a touch of humor.”
He also recalled when Kibaki was involved in a traffic accident and was taken to London for specialized treatment and Moi was on a tour of the US, the President made a stopover in London and visited Kibaki in the hospital.
“I thought Kibaki was mad at Mzee Moi though he was happy. Mzee Moi pulled up a chair and they spoke like gentlemen about the Moi succession. When Kibaki was sworn in as President, he showed no animosity towards Mzee Moi and therefore he refused to put Mzee Moi in jail,” revealed Mr Njiru.