I am honoured to join you in this memoriam of the Late Hon. Henry Pius Masinde Muliro, EGH; a nationalist, a patriot, and a humanist. It is already 27 years since that tragic day when this towering democrat collapsed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on return from an overseas trip. He was pronounced dead shortly after.
A whole generation that was not born at the time has since matured into adulthood. This generation symbolizes many Kenyans who do not know who Muliro was. Conversely, Muliro is also a metaphor for many towering Kenyan stalwarts and patriots about whom very little is said today, and less still known.
As a nationalist, Muliro was at the forefront of the struggle for Kenya’s independence. He belongs to the Lancaster House Generation that negotiated and wrestled Kenya’s freedom from the British in the early 1960s. His negotiation skills have been described as exceptionally complex and diplomatic.
In an age when the trend of leaders abusing their positions for self-aggrandizement and amassing illicit richness was beginning to take root, Muliro stood out as a modest individual with a humane focus on the ordinary citizen. He worked hard for what he had and – all the way to the grave – he lived a scandal-free life. If ever there was a clean political leader in Kenya, it was Masinde Muliro.
His selflessness, courage, and honesty stood out when in 1975 he stood with the Parliamentary Select Committee that probed the brutal assassination of J.M. Kariuki, who served as Member of Parliament for Nyandarua North Constituency in the Third Parliament. Muliro voted with his conscience on a Government amendment that sought to dilute the report. As a result, he was sacked from his position as Minister for Trade and Commerce. He was from that moment onwards politically sidelined and marginalized. However, he remained true to his conscience up to the very end.
Today Parliament has lost its conscience. While MPs take the oath of office and vow to serve conscientiously, few are governed by conscience. Selfishness, love for self and pleasure-seeking are the values that seem to inform leadership not just in Parliament, but also everywhere else in public office in Kenya today. Our pioneering leaders like Masinde Muliro must turn in their graves today, because of the leadership deficit and plight that afflicts our country.
In Luhyaland and West Kenya generally, political leaders have reduced themselves to a beggarly lifestyle. They run everywhere after individuals with ill-gotten wealth, in search for handouts. Such leadership is a disgrace both to the people of Western Kenya and to the memory of our departed heroes like Muliro, Martin Shikuku, Elijah Mwangale, Wasike Ndombi, Joseph Khaoya, JD Otiende, Moses Mudavadi, Eric Khasakhala, among other patriots.
The one thing that defines all these heroes is their honesty and sense of decorum. Culturally, Western has distinguished itself for producing leaders who are not driven by the spirit of greed and selfish bestiality. Regrettably, this is now a disappearing trait. Leaders from this part of the country need to do a lot of soul searching to ask themselves whom they are serving.
Muliro believed in the rule of law, good governance and constitutionalism it was because of this that he strived for the independence constitution. He was always firmly opposed to those who attempted to tamper with the constitution for their own selfish gain. One tribute we can pay him today is to protect the constitution.
I am aware that there are various initiatives out there to change the Constitution of Kenya (2010). This constitution is by no means perfect. However, any efforts to change it must seek to improve it and not to rape it. I have already pointed out some of my misgivings about the Third-Way Alliance led Punguza Mizigo Initiative. I am surprised, however, to read in the Press that this means that I support “the Building Bridges Initiative’s Proposals.”
I am surprised because so far there are no proposals from the BBI initiative. How can you support or oppose the unknown? To say NO to one thing does not mean an automatic YES to some other. We must wait for the owners of the BBI to unfurl their thing and give us their proposals. When that time comes, we will pronounce ourselves on the BBI. I have said that the handshake was a good thing. But for the BBI, let us wait. It is too soon to praise or condemn it. We don’t know what is there. Those misleading Kenyans about what they say is my position on the BBI should, therefore, refrain from this mischief. Muliro would not be happy about that kind of mischief.
As we commemorate Masinde Muliro today, it is critical to reflect on Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya and the entire Chapter Six. We need to ask ourselves whether we are living to the promise of this chapter – and especially this article. If any one leader ever symbolized this article, it was the Late Masinde Muliro.
The best tribute we can pay to him is to actualize Chapter Six of the Constitution of Kenya in our lives as leaders. The Kenyan populace must also begin shunning leadership that betrays our national values, as enshrined in this chapter. The self-seeking noise that we hear every day in politics is the undoing of Kenya. The nation must make a conscious and bold decision to turn a new leaf. We must move away from the politics of noise, chest-thumping and other forms of verbal violence.
Under these noises and verbal violence, people hide their dirty activities. They move us very quickly from one theatre of verbal violence to the next. In the end, we are not even able to focus on any one thing to its logical conclusion. This is a ploy to keep the country confused as lords of misrule, continue to do what they know best. Kenyans must wake up and say no to these noisemakers.
Finally, the stories of our true heroes like Masinde Muliro need to be researched and documented for future generations. Under the Moses Mudavadi Foundation, we purpose to begin making a modest contribution to that end.
Hon. Musalia Mudavadi
ANC Party Leader.