Last Saturday we gave a dignified send-off to one of Kenya’s pioneers, the Honourable Martin Joseph Olukhanya Shikuku. The funeral service was political as it was traditional. It was also simple and dignified; in every sense reflecting the man himself. Shikuku’s unwavering defence of the rights of the common man were legendary.
I have had the pleasure of meeting the late Shikuku in person and I consider it a honour that I can one day tell my grandchildren the story of a man who personified courage and selflessness; a man who was prepared to put his life on the line for national good.
One would imagine that having given - I dare say undeserving - state funerals to people like George Saitoti, Orwa Ojode, and Kijana Wamalwa, President Kibaki would at the very least order flags to fly at half-mast in honour of a national hero like the Honourable Martin Shikuku, a man whose liberation efforts were are all currently enjoying. Believe it or not, President Kibaki did not even see it worthy to honour one of our independence heroes by leading government delegation to the funeral. Former President Moi whom the late Hon Shikuku variously described as his friend also gave the funeral a wide berth.
Kibaki instead saw it fit to send a condolence speech that was read by Hon Musalia Mudavadi as his representative at that funeral. These are people who had the time to attend the late Josephine Michuki’s requiem mass and funeral only a few days back, but now had not time for Honourable Shikuku!
As regrettable as it may be, at Honourable Shikuku’s funeral, tens of thousands of Kenyans attended the funeral to celebrate life and times of a freedom fighter, a true reformer and a national hero. The people’s watchman as he was popularly known.
Musalia Mudavadi happens to be the man Honourable Shikuku gave a dressing down on his deathbed barely a month ago when the former had his KShs. 200,000/- “gift” rejected by Shikuku who also informed Musalia to his face that “God was unhappy with what he was doing to Kenyan voters”. Musalia Mudavadi was effectively disowned and execrated by the Honourable Shikuku and whether he represented the Head of State or the Queen of England, Musalia cut a lonely figure from among thousands of mourners.
Shikuku once warned us about people who would not be ashamed to shed crocodile tears at his funeral. We remembered a political father, a man of rare integrity and honesty - a sharp contrast to Mudavadis and Jirongos of Western Kenya, individuals who have on several occasions shamelessly betrayed the voters to go to bed with those who oppressed the masses, perpetuated grand corruption and frustrated comprehensive reforms.
For anyone who had any doubts on Raila Odinga's popularity among the grassroot masses in Western, the grand scale of the reception that was accorded to the Prime Minister was evident to any observer. Even more importantly, it emerged that it was PM Raila Odinga who for many years spared no effort in getting the late Shikuku’s hospital bills paid and was in fact the highest ranking government dignitary to have visited Shikuku in hospital on numerous occasions. This is not new to us for Raila is known to have extended a helping hand to amongst others, the former firebrand MP for Edoret North, Ms Philomena Chelagat Mutai, yet another of our forgotten liberation heroines.
It is a national shame and embarrassment that President Kibaki and ex- President Moi did not see it fit to support Shikuku whilst he was in hospital or even when he died.
All in all, thank you and rest in eternal peace Martin Joseph Olukhanya Shikuku.