, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16 – The government has formed a committee to prepare the burial of veteran politician and second liberation, icon Kenneth Matiba.
The committee will be led by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, to ensure Matiba is given a deserving send off, because of the role he played during the clamour of multi-partyism in the 1990s.
On Sunday night, President Uhuru Kenyatta in a televised statement said Matiba, who died at the age of 85, was at the forefront of shaping the political landscape of the country.
“With the passing of Mzee Matiba, the cruel hand of death has robbed us of a devoted leader and mentor who was a role model to many. Indeed, he served the country with distinction. His accomplishments clearly demonstrate that focus, diligence, and determination pay. Those who knew him benefited immensely from his selfless leadership and wisdom,” President Kenyatta said.
Kenyans have continued to mourn the departed hero, who has been described as the father of democracy in the country.
– The President Kenya never had –
“In Matiba, Kenyans were denied a President.” Those were the words of Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria, where the second liberation icon hails from, immediately after paying the family a visit at their Kiambu residence.
The governor said Matiba’s political fortune was suppressed by the then regime, which was led by former President Daniel arap Moi, an offence that should never be repeated again in future.
He urged Kenyans to stay steadfast in defending what veteran politician believed in to ensure the country does not go back to the dark days of dictatorship.
More than ever, he challenged Kenyans to remain alert and to always speak against any dictatorial tendencies by politicians.
“Whatever happened to him should be a very serious political lesson to this nation. That a system can oppress, suppress and diminish a personality to the level Kenneth Matiba was. He suffered for over 27 years because of a repressive system of government,” he said.
“We forgive them, but we must pick these political lessons.”
The veteran politician has been ailing for several years since he suffered a stroke while in detention during the struggle for multi-partyism.
Matiba was arrested with others, including Charles Rubia, and detained for agitating for the return of multi-party democracy during former President Daniel arap Moi’s regime.
While in detention, Matiba suffered a stroke but remained in custody without medical care.
Matiba played a key role as a teacher in Kangaru High School in 1960; then in 1961 through 1962 as an officer for higher education; and later in 1963 as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Co-operatives.
He also served as Minister for Transport and Communications, Minister for Health and Minister for Culture and Social Services.
He was also among the pioneering Kenyan entrepreneurs with diverse interests being involved in a number of companies such as the East African Breweries Ltd and in the hotel and tourism industry.