, KITALE, Kenya, Sept 1 – Veteran politician Martin Shikuku was laid to rest on Saturday in his Trans Nzoia farm at a politically charged funeral ceremony despite the man nicknamed ‘the peoples watchman’ banning political statements during his burial ceremony.
The fallen Shikuku had asked politicians not to politic during his send off and did not also want his body taken to Church.
Several of the politicians asked to eulogise Shikuku ignored his wishes focusing on the supremacy battle ahead of the 2013 general elections between political rivals Raila Odinga and Musalia Mudavadi, who were both at the ceremony.
“I would like to start by greeting you all. Honorable Prime Minister, Honorable Musalia Mudavadi, the president in waiting and all other leaders,” begun Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale when he started addressing the mourners.
He added that the country deserved leaders who would fight for the implementation of the Constitution as well as safeguard the rights of Kenyans.
“Now that Shikuku is gone, I would like to assure you that Khalwale is now in charge to protect the down trodden in this country,” he claimed.
Other leaders also urged Mudavadi to rejoin Raila in the race for State House.
Funyula MP Paul Otuoma maintained that Raila was the best presidential candidate for the country saying he represented the change that Kenyans yearned for.
“I’m in ODM and I support Raila Odinga, the rest are only trying to hunt for votes,” said Otuoma.
The Premier and his deputy however declined to comment on the calls but maintained that their bids for the presidency were as tight as ever.
Efforts by the area MP Eseli Simiyu, who also doubled up as the Master of Ceremony to warn mourners against dragging politics into the ceremony did not deter the speakers.
“I would like to inform you that the late Shikuku never went to funerals to play politics, please let us respect him,” pleaded Simiyu.
Trade Minister Moses Wetangula, who was also in attendance, took the opportunity to declare that he was firmly in the race for State House.
“I want to urge Kenyans to think twice, chose wisely and vote for me for the next President,” he said.
Bumula MP Bifwoli Wakoli spoke for less than a minute saying he would respect the wishes of the late Shikuku.
“I will not speak politics as Shikuku had instructed us not to do so during his funeral,” he said.
When he stood to speak, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi who represented President Mwai Kibaki at the funeral called for a peaceful transition and unity among Kenyans before the forthcoming elections.
In his a short speech at Funyula after reading the president’s condolences, Mudavadi said he was firmly on course to be the fourth President of the Republic.
“The peoples watchman, as the late Shikuku was popularly referred to, was a man who served the country with admirable dedication and commitment. During the entire period that he served as a parliamentarian, the late Hon. Shikuku remained sensitive and alive to the plight of the common mwananchi”, read the President’s speech.
Mudavadi eulogised the 78-year-old Shikuku as a steadfast politician who believed in “truth and nothing but the truth”.
“You would have to be extremely crafty to get away with lies before Shikuku”, he noted.
The DPM said Shikuku felt let down by colleagues in the fight for the new constitution.
“In a sense, there was this feeling he expressed that we were not being sincere on implementation because he senses some of us were out to use it for selfish political ends and not implement it for the good of the country”, Mudavadi said.
Khawale had also implored upon the Premier to address the teachers’ plight saying the country had enough money to pay them.
However when the PM rose to speak, he paid his tribute to the departed politician and reminded Kenyans to be wary of leaders who were out to serve their self interests.
“This Constitution has many enemies; there are so many wolves in sheep clothing and we must be alert. We also have to stop hate speech politics,” he said.
Also present was House Speaker Kenneth Marende, Minister’s Eugene Wamalwa, James Orengo, Noah Wekesa, Otieno Kajwang, Anyang Nyong’o, Henry Kosgey, Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli and several MPs.