Saturday, 16 June 2012


When I heard the story of the Ngong’ plane crash earlier yesterday, I was quite shocked. Perhaps it was because it was an unexpected occurrence. That is how death works. A cold master, a hunter out on a prowl out in a creek where there is a plethora of prey. Even when we think we expect it, we are left aghast in its wake. Some fear it, others convince themselves that they can face it. Fact is we all revere it. It is what makes you, me and people like Kim Jong’ Il stand on level ground, the only difference- time. A few people however commented that it wasn’t such a huge loss. Considering role models like the late Wangari Maathai and the late Michuki, I very much concur. But first, I would like to talk about how my late grandfather knew one George Muthengi Kinuthia Saitoti.

My grandfather was born in the late nineteenth century. A short bio of him- he was a son of the soil, raised an orphan, nurtured by hardship and matured in life. He had lived through the birth and making of this country and been under all the three regimes. He was a humble man, not well traveled albeit he was revered amongst his equals. I did not know him much as a person, but I got to spend quite some time with the man during his last days. I liked his opinions though. They were seldom well informed (I don’t blame him), but I found them rather interesting.

In the current government for instance, he knew three personalities- Kibaki, Raila and Saitoti (or Toitoti as he used to call him). The first two were familiar to him due to their positions in government, and their tribal affiliations. The man was born in the era of Gikuyu and Mumbi and the half a dozen or so clans so again: I don’t blame him. Toitoti- well let’s just say it was one familiar name and face. This, of course, is from the time Toitoti took the lime light on KBC radio news as ‘Makamu wa Rais’, always taking the second headline (as per traditions at the time). Anyhow, the television era didn’t make much sense to my grandfather.

Once in a while as we were sitted in the living room watching nine o’clock news; my grandfather would wonder how Toitoti could appear twice on national television within a period of two hours. He couldn’t conceive the idea of that being even possible. He would ask me whether this guy had any idea that normal people would be hanging around their families at that time of day in readiness to retire rather than moving around hell knows where with throngs of people tagging along. He concluded that this Tiototi fellow (and the others around him) were indeed quite peculiar.    

Another time, while Toitoti was being questioned vehemently by the first lady over the laxity of his ministry in managing disasters such as the Sachangwan fire, my grandfather could not help but notice Toitoti’s face on telly. In the background of his portrait was the footage from the scene of the fire, flames and all. My grandfather kept wondering whether he was burning for real. His worries were however allayed when footage of Toitoti making comments over the same was played later. The mzee could not however let it slide just yet. He went on to remark, as he watched, that it was no wonder he was smelling smoke in the ambience.

My grandfather aside (God rest his soul), my deep condolences go to the families of all the bereaved. Those who passed on had people who depended on them. I especially feel for the relatives of the young pilots and the security detail. The late Orwa Ojode was still young in the rings of leadership, his passing was untimely. Perhaps there was still some potential in him to take the country places.

Lastly, I do understand that ours is a setting where we are obliged by culture to exalt the deceased by sometimes unrealistic proportions. However, the media’s protracted story about the late Saitoti’s impact in this country and the gap his sudden absence creates leaves a lot to be desired. The truth always stands astute. As we come to terms with his demise, perhaps it is good for all to introspect on how we would want to be remembered once the inevitable happens. As far as I am concerned, I know I am nothing close to a saint. But if I live my whole life like a turd, and without apologies or regrets; I hope someone at my funeral will have the honesty and the balls to throw a roll of cheap toilet paper in my pit right after my casket.

May God bless Kenya.

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  1. A moment of silence for the departed.........(May they R.I.P)................well put in your writing,is the realization each of us must have, that we should leave our mark in life now, as we never know what tomorrow holds...

    *I see where you got your humor from:) He was a great man*

    1. True that, Carpe diem. About grandp's, he wasn't even trying... LOL!

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