JUNE 30, 2017
Former Prime Minsiter Rt Hon Raila Odinga has sent condolences to family and friends of Senator G. G. Kariuki who passed on earlier today.
“G. G. had a long career as public servant. He is part and parcel of the progress the country has made. His death is a loss to the entire nation and particularly to his people of Laikipia County, ” Raila said in Binary in Kuria East Constituency.
Mr Odinga said G. G. was a pragmatic politician who understood the perils and joy of public service.
Mr Odinga wished peace to the family and the people of Laikipia as they mourn the senator.
Here is the interview the late senator did with StandardNews’s Chemweno:
GG Kariuki is the senator of Laikipia County. He entered into politics in 1959 when President Uhuru Kenyatta was not even a rumour. He has served all four of Kenya’s Presidents besides becoming the oldest PhD graduand from the University of Nairobi. He spoke to Brigid Chemweno.
You got Masters degree in International Studies, and now a PhD, yet you are also in politics – a very demanding profession. How did you manage to juggle between politics and academics?
Politics and academic development are interdependent. They do not necessarily conflict. Modern politics require educated men and women. A degree is bound to enhance thinking and vision of a leader. Although I have been in politics for many years and I now hold a PhD degree, I know that the most important thing is how you can apply the knowledge acquired to deliver.
For many people, active life ends at 60. What prompted you to go back to class at that age?
At 60 I was very active and went to class to study international relations with a view of internationalising my knowledge.
I believe that for one to remain in politics one has to catch up with what is happening in the world, and that for one to lead their constituents effectively they must have knowledge beyond their borders. I therefore wanted to know more about national politics and beyond.
How was it like being supervised at such an age? Did it ever feel odd taking directions from a lady professor (Prof Maria Nzomo), younger than you?
I believe that serious students do not have time to think about the age and gender of their supervisors. In my case the gender issue or age did not arise.
UoN Vice chancellor, Prof Mbithi, recognized you in his address and commended your achievement. How did you feel?
I was surprised by the commendation as there were many graduands. Nevertheless, I felt honoured and privileged for being singled out by such a senior and experienced member of the academia. I am most humbled and grateful.
Your thesis went through a rigorous defense before being accepted. Tell us how the process was like…
Any academic work, particularly at the PhD level undergoes a rigorous process. It goes through examiners and is subjected to systematic revisions and refinements including insertion of commas and question marks. My work was no exception. One has to be prepared for a strenuous process.
Why did you pick on international relations?
I chose international relations because I wanted to understand the effects of pre-colonial and post-colonial developments on Kenya’s foreign relations.
How do you plan to use your PhD?
PhD degree provides general purpose knowledge and you cannot avoid applying it in every day interactions. The degree has advanced my understanding and knowledge of politics both locally and internationally.
You were a student, and then joined politics, what influenced you?
Three main factors influenced me to join politics: One was my upbringing in the white settled areas (White Highlands) in a squatter environment where the Africans faced homogeneous problems.
Secondly, I attended the independent schools, where politicisation featured prominently in the curriculum.
Thirdly, I was involved in the independence movement at an early stage as the environment within which I grew was politically conscious.
You delved into politics in 1959 and you have remained relevant over the years. Not many politicians do that…
Politics, like religious ministry, is a calling. One must have passion in peoples’ problems and get involved in solving them. Many people have commercialised politics and manipulate the ignorance of their electorate to their advantage. If a politician is genuinely concerned with his peoples’ problems regardless of elections, then s/he is likely to last long.
You schooled before the State of Emergency when not many Africans were going to school…
On the contrary, many people desired to go to school, but there were no schools. For example, where I grew up in the 128,000-acre estate, there was only one school which was a makeshift structure put up by the squatters for the education of their children. However, higher education has always been one of the dreams of my life.
Where were you when the State of Emergency was declared in August 1952?
I was at Kiamwangi Secondary School in Gatundu (Kiambu District). On the morning of 20 October 1952, we woke up to find the school swarming with security agents. All the senior teachers were arrested, including the headmaster, Kioni wa Kah?g?. Since Kiamwangi was not far from Gatundu Centre, we also came to learn that Jomo Kenyatta had also been arrested.
That morning we were told that the school had been closed. Lorries were packed in the compound ready to ferry us to our respective homes. My reaction was anxiety to go back home and join my family since I was still very young to speculate on what was happening.
Later, I came to learn that the school had been set ablaze especially the administration block, the dormitories and the carpentry workshop where the authorities suspected we were manufacturing guns. My family members were already in the independence movement and they did not see this as a big deal.
My father even remarked that many people would die in the struggle. So, I took up the chores that were befitting a young man of my age.
You have served in all Kenya’s regimes. How was the feeling like? Which one carries fond memories and why?
Yes I have served in all the post-colonial regimes. Each regime operated under its own unique local and international environment. Therefore, each regime was different and generated its memories for all people.
You were a patron of tae kwondo association for long…
I was Patron and Chairman of the Tae Kwondo Association of Kenya for many years and also became Vice-President of the International Tae Kwondo Association.
I served as Patron because this is a sport I didn’t want to see die. However, I resigned when I realised I couldn’t accord it enough time as I would have wished. I played Tae Kwondo up to Black Belt, Second Dan.
How many more years do you have before you exit political scene?
Politics is a lifetime calling as it involves service to the people. Elective politics is however determined by the electorate who decide the capacity in which one is to serve them or exit the political scene. I respect the wishes of the electorate.