Shun Tribal Politics for Kenya to Progress.
Posted by African Press International on June 21, 2012
<Patience Nyange reporting for API from Kenya
It has been a week of sadness and sorrow as Kenyans mourn fallen heroes. The 10th of June, 2012 will forever be remembered by many Kenyans as a day that robbed them of their Minister for Internal Security, Professor George Saitoti, 67 and his assistant, Joshua Orwa Ojode, 53. These two perished in a police helicopter crash in Ngong Forest in Kajiado County alongside other victims, pilots Nancy Gituanja and Luke Oyugi and bodyguards Thomas Murimi and Joshua Tonkei.
Though speculation is rife in regard to what could have caused the deaths, investigations are underway. The cause of the crash was not clear, but several witnesses said the chopper burst into flames as it hit the ground.
It will also be remembered that this same day, 10th of June in 2008, Kenyans lost yet two other ministers, Kipkalya Kones and Lorna Laboso who died in a light aircraft crash near Narok.
The deaths of these two Kenyan heroes, Saitoti and Ojode, seems to have marked a new beginning in Kenyan politics as all leaders call for unity and an end to political ethnicity that has continued to divide Kenyans for a long time.
Cabinet ministers, members of Parliament led by the His Excellency, President Mwai Kibaki, the Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and the deputy Prime Ministers Uhuru Kenyatta and Musalia Mudavadi attended both burials and all echoed calls for harmony.
The Late Prof. Saitoti was laid to rest on Saturday at his Kitengela Farm in Kajiado County with more than 20,000 Kenyans attending the 7 hours service. His colleagues in Parliament lavished great accolades on him and promised Kenyans that they will do everything to continue Saitoti’s Legacy.
“Saitoti was a great man, who fought for Kenya as a country regardless of his tribal inclination. I am therefore, ready to put my personal ambitions aside so that I can take this country to where George Saitoti wanted it to go,” said Uhuru Kenyatta who is also a presidential hopeful.
Saitoti who had publicly declared his interest to vie for the top seat in the forth-coming general elections was lauded by many as a great leader who protected Kenyans day in and out in his internal security docket.
“He worked tirelessly; he put Kenya’s interest at heart at all times. Saitoti saw Kenya as a mirror. Unlike many of us, he never saw Kenya as a broken mirror. When we look at ourselves through a broken mirror, our image gets distorted,” said James Orengo, the Minister for Lands.
Other dignitaries present during Saitoti’s burial were former President of Kenya, Daniel Torotich arap Moi, in whose administration Saitoti served as the Vice President for 13 years. Until his death, Prof. George Saitoti was member of parliament for Kajiado constituency for 19 years.
Moi described him as a focused man, strong-willed and who shunned ethnicity for the sake of Kenya’s peace and unity.
Many will recall the fall-out in Kasarani in 2002 between Moi and Prof. Saitoti. During his subsequent speech, Saitoti made what was to become one of his memorable comments….”there comes a time when the nation is bigger than an individual”
Jerry Rawlings, the former President for Ghana said he received the news of Saitoti’s death with shock and disbelief. He narrated his encounters with Saitoti who was a Mathematics Professor and said Kenya had lost a visionary leader.
All the ministers who rose to eulogize Saitoti warned Kenyans against perpetuating tribal politics, a vice that Saitoti tirelessly fought against. “One thing that made him angry was when you asked him what tribe he was, he preferred to be called a Kenyan,” said James Orengo.
Prof. George Saitoti leaves behind a widow, Margaret Saitoti, a son, Zachary Msengi Saitoti and his orphaned Kajiado constituency. He was put to rest shortly after 5pm East African Time while many Kenyans prepared for yet another burial, that of his assistant minister the following day at Kanyamwa Location, Ndhiwa Division, Homa Bay County.
Sunday 17th June saw Orwa Ojode the assistant minister laid to rest. This day was no different as all the leaders called for unity ahead of the general elections. The President was present and restated the plea he made during Prof. Saitoti’s burial that leaders should honor their words.
“Why do we keep repeating the same words rather than acting on them, rather than allowing those words to become our guide? Why? If we do so, this is what will make a difference. We will become genuine people,” he said.
More than 100 dignitaries composed of Cabinet ministers and members of Parliament were present during Ojode’s burial. All who made speeches showered praise and shared fond memories about Ojode during his term in Parliament. Ojode served as an MP representing his constituency for 13 years until his untimely death.
“We Kenyans are good at funerals and weddings. But when it comes to making choices we cease to be Kenyans. We speak here as politicians, but when we leave here we will go back to our ethnic cocoons,” said the Lands Minister James Orengo who described Ojode as a selfless leader who served his Ndhiwa constituents and the country at large with a lot of commitment.
Kenneth Marende, the speaker of the National Assembly credited the MPs for showing great unity during the mourning period as well as the final journey of the late ministers and asked them to uphold the same spirit.
“We should now say no to ethnicity, regional ethnicity and call for unity; this is what will bring us together as Kenyans.” He added.
His sentiments were echoed by the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, who cautioned Kenyans against putting their tribes first if full prosperity was to be achieved. “Lets us dream of uniting this country so that we remove the barrier of ethnic divide. Let us be Kenya and one Kenya, that’s how we can pay tribute to Ojode and Saitoti,” said the PM, warning leaders against popularizing political groupings like Gema and Kamatusa.
Hon. Ojode who leaves behind a widow, Mary Ojode and son Andrew Ojode was laid to rest shortly after 3 pm East African time.
Curiously, most of the dignitaries made their way to Ndhiwa by road and there was speculation that this could have been as a result of the continued deaths though air-craft crashes. Incidents of helicopter crashes in Kenya have been on the increase and have claimed the lives of top government officers including then Roads Minister Kipkalya Kones and Home Affairs Assistant Minister Lorna Laboso, former leader of opposition Bonaya Godana, then Internal Security Assistant Minister Mirugi Kariuki and former Labor Minister Ahmed Khalif.
With the great unity born of a shared loss and the promises made by political leaders during this mourning week, there’s a general hope that the vice of ethnicity that has divided Kenyans since time immemorial will finally come to an end.