NYERI, Kenya, Mar 6 – The daylong burial ceremony for the late Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua was marked with laughter as various national leaders gathered at his Hiriga home to celebrate his life.
An impressive turnout was witnessed with President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto, former President Mwai Kibaki, Opposition chief Raila Odinga, 35 governors and several Cabinet Secretaries being among those in attendance.
Amidst the tears, his children remembered their father with fondness with his daughter joking that he’d walk around their house with her medical textbooks while admitting that he suffered greatly from the pain associated with pancreatic cancer in his last days. “He’d call me and ask me what we could do about the pain.”
His son told of how once on a flight, Gachagua got him an autograph from the famed musician Shaggy: “I turned to my father (and) I said dad that’s Shaggy. I’d love to get his autograph. My dad had no idea who Shaggy was, he wasn’t an MP and he said ‘hey, excuse me… please come one second’ and Shaggy was gracious enough not to take offence and gave me an autograph.”
When it was his turn to speak, President Uhuru Kenyatta also elicited laughter from those gathered to bid Gachagua farewell. “I never thought that by coming here to bid Gachagua farewell I’d end up agreeing with my brother Raila, truly God’s ways are confounding.”
Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri had some funny stories of his own and told of how he convinced Gachagua to join the then National Rainbow Coalition by telling him of how he rose from tout to Member of Parliament.
“This was (sic) the words of Mwai Kibaki, ‘if really Laikipia has so many touts, then give the ticket to the touts.’”
He went on to poke fun at Raila’s manner of speaking by mimicking him when he told of how he’d had to translate some of the Kikuyu spoken at the ceremony for the premier.
Jokes aside President Kenyatta joined Gachagua’s successor Ambassador Samuel Wamathai in calling on the Nyeri County Assembly to pass the county government’s supplementary budget and make it possible for him to finish the work Gachagua started.
“Members of County Assembly of Nyeri if you don’t pass this budget where are you going to get the votes from? Mimi nawaambia mutakayagwa, mutakarangwa na hii (sic) watu mjionee (if you don’t pass the budget for the benefit of these Nyeri residents gathered here, they’ll step on and fry you).”