, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 25 – Kenyans have been urged to be fearless in defending what is right for the country in honour of the late Kenneth Matiba, a multi-party political icon.
This was during a memorial service attended by family members and top government officials led by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and Cabinet Secretaries among others.
Former President Mwai Kibaki and ex-Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka were also in attendance during an emotional remembrance of the politician and his role in fighting for democracy in the country.
“My father was fearless for his nation, he dreamed big dreams and was not afraid to execute them,” Matiba’s daughter Susan said.
And like her father, she challenged Kenyans to “cast out fear and step out to do what is right.”
And such were the sentiments from leaders granted a chance to speak about the politician.
President Kenyatta said Kenyans will miss but will never forget Matiba who was famous for his courage and was at the forefront in shaping Kenya’s political landscape, especially in the 1990s.
“Ken Matiba epitomised what Kenya is supposed to be. He was committed to hard work and was willing to sacrifice all his property and wealth for the sake of the country,” said President Kenyatta at the memorial service held at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi.
“Kenya will miss him but we will never forget him,” said the President, of Matiba, who was famous for his unwavering fearlessness and was known for his rallying call, “forward ever, backward never.”
He called on leaders to mentor young people who will take over the mantle of leadership in all spheres of life just like Matiba did.
“True leadership is not scared of mentoring and training others to take over from them,” said President Kenyatta.
Deputy President Ruto said every Kenyan is enjoying the fruits of Matiba’s hard work, in ensuring the democracy space was expanded.
“Matiba made Kenya a free and more democratic that people from all walks of life can make a contribution,” he said.
Prior to his death, the veteran politician was 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.
Despite his woes, the family said, “Kenneth was never bitter. He never raged about those who caused his incapacitation, but rather focused his energies on family, friends, and life.”