Joseph Lister Nyaringo
New Jersey, USA
The late honourable Martin Shikuku will not only remain legendary but
a living symbol for equity and equality in our nation. I haven’t seen
any leader who advocated for the common people of Kenya with great
zeal like the former Butere MP. We grew up hearing him and saw him
fight for our common good fearlessly even when the system was
extremely brutal to dissenters.
He carried himself with humility and humbleness; often mingling freely
with all cadres in the society. I personally met him for the first
time in 1994 in a setting where most V.I.Ps will never shake your
hand; leave alone talking to you but Shikuku, embraced me and my
friends; shook our hands; shared a short conversation before walking
away to see the big guys.
We were all left puzzled especially being in a society where the
mighty carry themselves like small gods and rarely socializes with
common people. This trait by Shikuku is very uncommon. Shikuku’s
character was similar to that of the late JM Kariuki and Bishop
Alexander Muge, of the Anglican Church. Both loved ordinary people and
were fearless while defending justice and truth.
Ask yourself where Kenya will be if we had majority of MPs with
similar qualities to Shikuku, Muge and JM Kariuki? On the other hand,
suppose Matiba and Shikuku would have taken government in 1992, shall
Kenya be the way it’s today under the Kibaki Raila government?
I have the audacity to believe that even though Matiba’s health was
wanting, Shikuku would have helped him to pursue an aggressive agenda
to reform key government organs and give the Country a new
constitution immediately after the first multiparty election. The
Country could have been in a better footing today had Matiba and
Shikuku taken government.
Its worthy to note that the bad seeds Kenyatta planted in our nation
after independence got fertilized by Moi and kept blossoming. When
Kibaki took over, he promised to prune it but all was empty rhetoric.
Instead, tribalism and corruption skyrocketed to immeasurable
proportions. Kibaki’s economic agenda hasn’t narrowed the gap between
the rich and poor. Our nation continues to be treated with the
The high revenue collection under Kibaki hasn’t helped much to fight
poverty, unemployment or improve service delivery. Despite being an
avid economist, Kibaki’s economic agenda isn’t for the common people
but for the “big guys.” It’s only a negligible percentage of Kenyans
who feel good about his economic policies.
No wonder, the late Martin Shikuku once wondered aloud why corruption
and looting was rampant during Moi’s leadership but there was a
trickle of crumbs for the poor, but under Kibaki, nothing falls from
the high table for the biblical Lazarus.
The ideals Shikuku stood for is exactly what strained the relationship
between Kenyatta and two freedom fighters- Jaramogi Odinga and Bildad
Khagia. Kenyatta underwent a complete metamorphosis immediately after
independence and pursued a path towards enriching his community and
family through jobs and land grabbing. This was against the spirit of
the freedom struggle.
That is why Kenya will later experience a series of political
assassinations under Kenyatta’s presidency whose genesis is unresolved
It’s saddening that after President Kibaki took power in 2002; he
pursued no tangible plans to negate the evils of the past but instead
perfected it. Our nation is more polarized, disunited and tribalism is
on high ebb. The negative signs we see today are not different from
what made us hate and kill each other in 2007. It all started when
Kibaki destroyed the tranquillity and cohesiveness that existed under
Moi despite the fact that the former President’s leadership was
dictatorial. Many Kenyans look back with nostalgia, unity our nation
enjoyed during Moi’s reign.
What can we do as a nation? The best is to learn from our true heroes
like the late Martin Shikuku, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Bildad Khagia,
Bishop Muge and JM Kariuki, in order to pursue the path which lifts
the whole nation.
For honourable Shikuku, you were born; lived according to your purpose
and as the nation embarks to give you a heroes’ salute for your final
journey, you will always remain in our hearts as one of our Country’s