By Seth O
Former First Lady Mama Lucy Kibaki may be hated for so many things, many that perhaps were out of her individual control but one thing the country, or myself – as someone who observe keenly some of these things – give her credit for is how she brought some sense of discipline among the Kikuyu elite primarily, and other elites who surrounded former President Mwai Kibaki.
Mama Lucy is said to have been very ‘sensitive’ to allegations of corruption, especially where those close to President Kibaki had been mentioned. This way, she ensured once you dipped your hands in the public cookie jar, you never (ever) again use the grounds of state house to give yourself a veneer of respectability.
And once Mama Lucy had turned her gaze toward you, you were as good as done.
History may not loudly capture these things but the fall of Chris Murungaru, David Mwiraria, Matere Keriri and many other senior ministers and government officials like former CID man Joseph Kamau during Kibaki era were mostly attributed to her.
This, to me, is one of the favourable virtues the deceased first lady should be remembered for.
Her style of managing the President is starkly different from the current first lady, who appears to see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing of the many corruption scandals that are consuming her husband because of his circle of friends. With Mam Lucy, the big vegetables knew they were fallible.
What we now know is that President Uhuru’s State House is a free for all cesspit. It houses some of the worst characters in this city, people like Munyori Buku and Eric Ng’eno who can print anything, however unpalatable and unpresidential, in the false sense of worth and belief that they are doing it ‘for the president’. Granted, there were praise singers and court-jesters around Mwai Kibaki, but most of such characters operated from the ghostly corridors of Harambee House, not state house, not our country’s foremost public house.
I speak a lot to, and, with many people in CORD and ODM who were part of the last Grand Coalition Government, and indeed the earlier LDP-NAK government and many agree President Mwai Kibaki was a better man of himself in the early hours of the morning when he had just left the company of his immediate family, Lucy being the rock.
Power corrupts. Tell me any woman who was near power who never nearly lost her head. I read many books in politics, history and even fiction. Of the many women characters, I am yet to find as many. Exposed to power, women lose their heads. Anne Waiguru.
Though the current first lady has cut for herself a public persona of a president’s spouse more concerned, on her own, with the immediate challenges facing the country and has neglected the traditional role of a first lady – that of the last line of defence on most, if not all public issues where peoples’ interests, lives, opportunities, hopes and fears come up against the powerful interests of cartels, capitalist vultures, merchants, middlemen, profiteers etc – history reserves for her a hotter place.
Kenya is worse off because Margaret Kenyatta is playing holier than thou. Why lie?
Ever wondered why the likes of Chris Kirubi, with his many yellow ideas about success and billions never cut it as a critical power keg under Kibaki? Perhaps, Kibaki had no time for intellectual zombies. Perhaps, Mama Lucy couldn’t allow it.
As Kenyans speculate and discuss Mama Lucy, personally, I feel grateful she was the wife of President Kibaki at that point in time. Some of us came of age in the last 10 years. Kibaki’s first term found us just about to finish primary school and second term just about to finish high school. We lived in a country that’s no more. We came of age under a President who was never petty and who never surrounded himself with petty elites. It would have been unimaginable to find Kibaki jailing Alan Wadi. He didn’t have time for that, because people around him didn’t have time for that. The greatest tragedy that can befell a nation is to elect a petty president, or, him who isn’t petty, but has all around him very petty people. People who have no exceptions.
As I thought about Kibaki Presidency, and how we took some of the freedoms and rights secured during his time for granted, I found myself thinking favourably of Mama Lucy. If she made some terrible mistake, at least we know she was true, she was real; she wasn’t feckless and definitely she was not all public relations!
My random thoughts.