NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 9 – Uhuru Kenyatta is now the President of Kenya.
But how did his entry into politics some 16 years ago start?
On Monday, President Kenyatta recalled the moment when Mark Too – who was laid to rest in Uasin Gishu – gave up his seat as Nominated MP in 2001, paving the way for retired President Daniel arap Moi appoint him Local Government Minister.
Before then, President Kenyatta told mourners, it had been a frustrating bid at politics but with the prodding of ex-President Moi and Too he eventually took up the mantle and it paid off big time in 2013, when he assumed the highest office in the land of Kenya.
“Mark was in the frontline in pushing me to join elective politics… he often encouraged me saying that there is no other way to initiate the change that I wanted to make in the country except through politics,” he said recounting how he had given up on politics following his defeat in the 1997 General Election where he vied on a KANU ticket for the Gatundu South Parliamentary seat.
He explained how Too had hatched a plan at the time involved enticing another Nominated MP from the Coast to cede his seat, only for retired President Moi to telephone him that evening with a different surprising option.
“So later that evening, Mzee Moi called me, and said that Mark Too, had agreed to vacate his seat. I was confused but I just said it is okay,” President Kenyatta told attentive mourners.
“Moments later, Mark Too came to my house, and I eagerly asked him what happened, because I thought we were to try and convince the MP from Mombasa to give up their seat. But, Mark Too told me Mzee had arrived at a decision.”
The President threw the mourners into laughter when he confessed that he almost messed up a side-agreement Too had crafted, when he met President Moi the next day.
“Too had told me to tell the President (Moi) that I wanted him (Too) to be the one to show me around Parliament and teach me how things are done in government. Only that when I met with Mzee, I said it was Too who suggested we approach an MP from Mombasa to give up their seat,” President Kenyatta stated.
Too, was to later that day to storm his office asking him why he went and ‘sold him’ out.
President Kenyatta told Too he was a political novice and with time would adeptly learn the ropes.
In a speech read on his behalf by his son and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, retired President Moi eulogised his long time friend as a peacemaker and man who was known for his humility because he treated all people without favour, regardless of their standing in the society.
“An affable and personal gentleman, Mark Too, had also a natural flair for diplomacy. This flair when fused with his immense sense of humour stood him in good speed, whenever I sent him to undertake certain missions. This was not difficult as Mark was a quick learner and readily grasped the local and regional political alignments,” Moi said.
“Mark Too was a patriot and a believer in peaceful resolutions of conflicts. His mere presence and contributions to serious discourses helped to ease tensions. His generosity, friendliness and infectious laughter will be greatly missed by all those who knew him,” the retired President said.
Mark Too’s burial was attended by leaders from across the political divide – including CORD leader Raila Odinga’s brother Oburu who recalled how the late politician helped them get electricity after the death of their father Jaramogi Odinga.
Other leaders who spoke at the funeral included former Cabinet Ministers Nicholas Biwott, Henry Kosgey and Senators Zipporah Kittony and Kipchumba Murkomen of Elgeyo Marakwet among others.