NEWS GANG: Journalistic bow for Emilio Mwai Kibaki

  • On the eve of the State funeral of former President Mwai Kibaki, the Memo, Take, Punchline and Kicker are rolled into one joint, earnest final word.
  • We dedicate the next few minutes to a tribute to Emilio Mwai Kibaki, the third president of the republic of Kenya who passed on a week ago.

YVONNE: In keeping with the tradition here on the News Gang, an extraordinary event calls for extraordinary measures. Which is why tonight on the eve of the State funeral of former President Mwai Kibaki, the Memo, Take, Punchline and Kicker are rolled into one joint, earnest final word. We dedicate the next few minutes to a tribute to Emilio Mwai Kibaki, the third president of the republic of Kenya who passed on a week ago.

FRANCIS: Our tribute tonight will not only mourn and celebrate Mwai Kibaki, but will also, play to the rules of journalism, particularly fairness and objectivity even if to the best extent possible or admissible in this moment of bereavement.

JAMILA: Bereavement is a heavy moment. Especially for family and close friends. And we must start here by condoling the family of president Mwai Kibaki, his sons and daughters, grand children and other relatives. Our heartfelt condolences to the family of Mwai Kibaki.

LINUS: Indeed, and at this mention of family, we must acknowledge the decency of the Mwai Kibaki family. We do so in recognition of the fact that that alone is a rare tribute when it comes to not just Kenyan but generally African presidential families. The Kibaki family despite all the power and glory, kept it generally sober and upright, and to all his sons and daughters, decency and humility will in the long run be the best part of your family story.

YVONNE: Away from the family, there has been a rather public scramble for a piece of Mwai Kibaki; a dash to be associated with and a claim to the mentorship of Mwai Kibaki. The special session of Parliament on Wednesday was one such scramble. Our Members of Parliament swept the table clean of Kibaki's attributes - from being a gentleman to being what many are calling the best economic manager to ever run a government in Kenya.

FRANCIS: Well, to the Members of Parliament, we say, it is all well to lay claim to a piece of and attributes of Mwai Kibaki, even if, upon his death. The harder part is walking the talk. If Mwai Kibaki was the act you so colourfully admired as many of you professed on the floor of the House yesterday, just how much of that act can you be?

JAMILA: Mwai Kibaki was a Member of Parliament for more than fifty years and will go down in history as one of the longest serving legislators in the history of the Commonwealth. But it is not the length of service in Parliament that stood out about Mwai Kibaki. It is instead, the quality of his contributions and particularly his legendary debating skills on nearly every matter before the house and especially, economic matters.

LINUS: Mwai Kibaki was the ultimate lion of the Parliamentary dispatch box. In the late 90's and early 2000s, I was priviliged to watch him on duty on the floor of the House as the leader of official opposition; pinning down government ministers with the profound authority and command only a man of his vast experience could.

YVONNE: Parliament made Mwai Kibaki. He took the Westminster institution seriously and he understood it for the hallowed mantra it lived by for many decades; for the welfare of society and the just government of men, and women one may add. As early as 1963 as Member of Parliament for Donholm in Nairobi, Mwai Kibaki was already mindful of the gravity of the duties of the August House.

FRANCIS: Indeed, Kibaki who was then a Parliamentary Secretary for Treasury, was quoted in July 1966 asking Members of Parliament to "think seriously of the words they are uttering, before getting too emotionally involved.” Independence, he warned, comes with responsibility. Mistakes of the colonial administration, he cautioned, must be accepted as part of the responsibility of the incoming independence government. Short code for this; Mwai Kibaki made for an accomplished political adult.

JAMILA: And the political adult went on to take up adult responsibilities. The famous sessional paper number 10 of 1965 on African socialism was written at a time the world was deep in the middle of the cold war fought through among other things, ideological doctrines. But Kibaki kept it pragmatic reminding the House that it was not a debate of who between Karl Marx, Engels, Lenin or Mao Tse Tung was right or wrong. He reminded MPs that the sessional paper was simply about an economic system that can lead Kenyans to prosperity.

LINUS: The sessional paper number 10 was only the first of many Parliamentary papers and bills Kibaki was to be associated with. A lifetime of contributions from both sides of the Parliamentary mace rightly excited the House on Wednesday as it paid its homage to Mwai Kibaki. But we could sum up all the attributes into a short list of two virtues - honour and service.

YVONNE: Honour to self and service to others. We have scanned through Parliamentary records of Mwai Kibaki's contributions and found no trace of contradiction to the reputation the third president earned as 'the gentleman of Kenyan politics.' Even in rare moments of anger, Kibaki kept his language and tone in parliament civil, measured and ultimately decent. And for the admiring crowd of our parliamentarians, it all starts there. It starts with the small things.

Rest in peace, Mwai Kibaki.

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