In his sunset days, President Mwai Kibaki knew the bell would soon ring for him and made peace with himself, his family and everyone around him.
His eldest son, Jimmy Kibaki, recalls the death in 2016 of her mother, Lucy Kibaki, became a major turning point for the family.
The former president fell ill immediately after her funeral, making him realize that sooner or later they would be reunited would be with his sweetheart. And so, for the last six years, Mzee Kibaki had always packed his luggage, ready to leave.
Remember, after our mother died, he had to be flown to South Africa for special treatment. The experience and ordeal changed everything. It would never be the same again,” Jimmy recalled in an interview Thursday.
Read: How Kibaki Lived His Last Days
Address on family, before he was taken to intensive care at Nairobi Hospital on Wednesday last week, after which he breathed his last on Friday, Kibaki had one wish for his children; “Stay together, take care of my grandchildren.”
If his last wish is granted, he reminded the family, they will have made the former First Lady and him proud and happy in the afterlife.
The presence of his grandchildren had become commonplace during his second and final term in the State House. In his retirement, they would always surround him at his home in Muthaiga when school was during breaks. His children say he enjoyed a special bond with the little ones. His eldest grandchild is 26 years old.
Jimmy says that his father “as a meticulous man” made sure he got his house in order before he died. He promises the country that in his father’s absence there will be no family feuds over property, as has happened with prominent families when the patriarch or matriarch dies.
Read: Matere Keriri : Why Kibaki played Raila
“We have no reason to fight, we were raised well. As his children, we do not consider his wealth to be ours. no Whatever he left behind, we only see ourselves as trustees for the next generation. Our duty is to increase what is there, and not fight for it.”
But even on his deathbed, Jimmy says, despite the visible pain in his eyes, his father did his best to ease family worries. He prefers to talk about other things.
“My father never wanted us to worry about him. Instead, he was more concerned about us, even in his illness,” he said.
Read:Jimmy Kibaki – The Untold Story of My Father’s Presidency
He recalled how the military took it upon himself to be informed that her father, a former Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF), had died.
“Death , we realized that our father belonged to Kenya, to the government and also to the military, not just to us, the family. We had to sign the documents that required the body to be handed over to the military. Even the pathologists who prepared his body were from the military. Those from the Lee Funeral Home have been reduced to bystanders,” he said.
Amid the grief and processing of the loss of his father, he still sees hope for Kenya in the military and other efficiently run institutions.
“If you look at how they do business, they are very professional and polite. The military is proof that institutions can work,” he said thoughtfully.
As a father, Jimmy says, Kibaki didn’t believe in spoon-feeding anyone, including his own children.
You had to roll up your sleeves, work and stand alone.
“After university, you had to decide for yourself what to do. If you wanted to get into business, he would start you. He will then support you for the first six months to a year. After that you would be on your own. And if you need help finding a job, he’ll do it once, and if you screw it up, it’s none of his business.”
“He thought it was the only way you could do a lot for yours children do. If you do everything for them, when will they ever grow up,” he said.
He said his father used to take them on vacation when the schools were closed.
“His preferred destination was Mombasa. Despite the demanding schedule of a socialite, he made time for his family.”
The children attended the best schools, the best universities around the world, in the US and UK, and so he expected not having any of them excuse us for not excelling in life.
“He never punished us physically when we strayed, but he had his own way, his point of view to make him not happy with you. And that way you would actually feel terrible that mzee is not happy with you. You would do your best to redeem yourself.”
Read:How Mwai Kibaki Was Packaged To Block Kenneth Matiba’s “tyrannical” rule in 1992
Mama Lucy Kibaki, the former First Lady, was the ultimate family disciplinarian.
“I can assure you that she was quite effective at it,” he pointed out.
The former president was a staunch Catholic because he believed the Church had given him a chance in life.
When the Consolata missionaries wanted students to be accepted into the school, his father fired him into an account he wasn’t very useful on. Farm.
Although President Kibaki wasn’t a demanding parent, he couldn’t understand why someone would fail in class.
“He expected from us that we excel at school and respect people. When we weren’t as good as some of us were a bit challenged he couldn’t understand what the problem was as he was an academic giant. He just couldn’t understand why anyone would get below a B in a subject. He was right,” says Jimmy.
In his way of not forcing his views on children, Jimmy says he lets them decide whether or not to venture into politics.
“He neither encouraged nor discouraged us from going into politics. Remember, even for him, he never joined politics for the sake of it, as many do. He went into politics to become a minister and later a president because he believed he had something to offer and that could only be possible in this space,” he says.
But the former head of state asked Working closely with the people of Othaya, the region he represented in Parliament for half a century, perhaps the closest he recalls to calling Jimmy to go into politics.
Whether he will be the political leader of the family, in the same way that Baringo Senator Gideon Moi was crowned at his father Daniel Moi’s funeral and presented Mzee’s symbolic rungu (stick), the younger Kibaki says the family will don’t follow this script.
Read:How Kibaki Orchestrated a Month-long Re-election Campaign
“We’re a bit private and run our affairs differently. Of course, the family already sees me as one (political leader), but believe me, an announcement will be made when such a decision is made,” he told the Saturday Nation.
About Kibaki, the head of government , he says, his father had the patience of a mustard seed.
“He never showed his frustration, even when leading a government with people whose vision might not have aligned with his. You remember the struggle from day one of his presidency to the end, but he had a country to run and an economy to revitalize. He even struggled with an accident and had to overcome a stroke to take the lead,” he says.
Jimmy admires many things about his father and says the late president loved every opportunity that came his way , made the most of it.
“Obviously he was of superior intelligence, but he also made the best of the opportunities life offered him. For Mzee, success meant knowing what you were doing. He did a tremendous amount of research and reading,” he recalls.
Out of oppression
As president, Jimmy says his father was an expert in areas where he wasn’t an authority, exactly listening.
“He said to Muthaura (Civil Service Director Francis Muthaura), let’s listen to the doctors about this and that health policy, because they know better. But before he entertained her, he would go ahead and educate himself on the subject so he wasn’t just a passive listener.”
And like any man, Kibaki had his regrets.< /p >
“He felt that he had left many people behind as he moved at very high speed to change the country, a country that was just being liberated from many challenges. He supposed the task would have been obvious to a people just emerging from oppression, but that was not the case. In the end, he felt he should have sought more consensus on this mission, then his presidency would have been better,” says Jimmy.
Ultimately, he says, his father was valued more for what he was in did for the country in his retirement when he was the country’s Chief Executive.