NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 22 – Veteran politician Martin Shikuku has died after battling cancer for a long time, according to family sources.
The family told Capital FM News that Shikuku, 79, passed on at a hospital in the city’s Hurlingham suburb on Wednesday afternoon.
“We are devastated at what has just happened. Shikuku left us this (Wednesday) afternoon,” the family member said.
The late Shikuku was a Member of Parliament for Butere until 1997 and he will be remembered for being at the frontline in fighting for the country’s independence having served as MP in the Legislative Council.
He is said to have prepared his grave and even bought a coffin long before his death.
He was first elected Member of Parliament for Butere constituency in 1963 when Kenya got independence.
He once served as an assistant minister in the government of Kenya’s first President the late Jomo Kenyatta in 1969. Coincidentally, he passed on the same day Kenyatta died. Events to mark 34 years since Kenyatta died were held earlier on Wednesday, hours before news of Shikuku’s death filtered in.
President Mwai Kibaki led Kenyan leaders in mourning Shikuku.
President Kibaki described the late Shikuku as a seasoned politician who was well versed in parliamentary procedures.
The Head of State said the late Shikuku was also very sensitive to the plight of the wider public.
President Kibaki added that in many ways the late veteran politician was one of the country’s founding fathers as he participated in the formulation of the old Constitution at Lancaster in the United Kingdom.
“It is with a deep sense of sadness and sorrow that I sent this message of condolence and encouragement to the family, friends and relatives of Martin Shikuku,” President Kibaki said.
The president prayed to God to give the bereaved family the strength and fortitude to bear the tragic loss.
In his condolence message, Prime Minister Raila Odinga described Shikuku as a man who “fought for the birth of the Kenyan nation,” having represented the country at the pre-independence London constitutional conference.
“His personal freedom got curtailed in independent Kenya with a long stint in detention authored by the very leadership he had fought to install,” the premier said, adding “I have no words to mourn Mr Shikuku.”
Odinga said Shikuku had died “a happy man” because ” at least, the changes he long sought to see, the ideals that were killed in the independence constitution have been restored in the new constitution we unveiled two years ago.”