NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 – As Kenyans settle down after the landmark General Elections where they turned out with sheer might to vote, the story of self-confessed centurion Karumba Mungai is among those that best captured the indefatigable will to change the country’s governance.
Leaders voted for the County, National Assembly, Senatorial, Gubernatorial to the highest office in the land owe Mungai and his compatriots a great deal of service to repay the faith he had in a process whose outcome is still being contested in courts.
Born in 1909 by his own admission and now 103, Mzee Mungai cultivated a fiercesome reputation as one of the most revered disciplinarians in Gatundu South.
It is this fire in his belly that saw him aided by one of his younger sons who is well into his 60s to the Mutomo Primary School polling station to cast his hope despite excruciating pain brought by rigours of his advanced years.
“It is the people who bestow leadership upon those who govern. As long as I can get up, I have made my choice. When you don’t, then you get leaders who bring you trouble,” he said in his native Kikuyu while proudly lifting his flailing pinky to display the indelible ink that confirmed he had voted.
“During his heyday, he used to chase us up and down the village caning us for even the slightest misdemeanour. He was feared across the ridges as the toughest discipline master,” the local reporter who introduced Capital FM News to Mungai narrated.
Such was the fear of God Mungai instilled on those who used to face the wrath of his trusted cane, that the reporter kept a respectable distance lest he spurred him into decisive action by even the mere thought of upsetting him.
“I have lived through good times and bad times in this country and my message to everyone is that they should never shy away from choosing their leaders since it is the failure to act that gives people whom they later complain about power,” he sagely advised as he was led to a waiting pick-up truck one careful step at a time.
“I hope this time we make the right choices of leaders. What happened the other day (2007) was not what this country is about and I hope everybody lives in peace.
“We should show Kenyans how to live with each other at all times since God gave this country to all,” was his take on Kenya Polls of 2013.
On Uhuru Kenyatta, his former MP who is a petition away from being installed as the fourth President of Kenya and the toast of his community, Mungai who was pausing after few steps to wince in pain, tactfully side-stepped the making a call on whether he was the man who would lead the country to the Promised Land.
“Him (Uhuru)? I don’t know but he is not bad is he? We have known him but they are others who are okay as well, isn’t it?” he rhetorically posed on March 4.
On the TNA leader’s father and founder President of the Republic, Jomo Kenyatta, Mungai recalled he grew up trail blazing in the area.
“He hailed from Ichwaeri and when he settled here, one of my sons used to work for him. He was a tough man,” he added.
As he neared his vehicle, he turned on the youth, raising his cane and wagging it in the direction of a few youngsters seated a short distance from where he was.
“Stop drinking cheap liquor and smoking bhang otherwise, you will never get anywhere or live long to make decisions like this,” the man who was born in Kinoo, Kikuyu County before relocating to Gatundu advised.
With that, he boarded the vehicle and drove off in a cloud of dust and an hour later, Kenyatta arrived at the same polling station to cast his ballot, also walking in measured steps but for a different reason.
The tension of the final lap in the race for the highest office on the land was taking its toll on him but should he be sworn in, Mungai’s determination to get his voice heard through the ballot should be a reminder of the task he has on his hand to serve this nation.