It was a few months before the 1974 general elections. The villagers were camping in an empty plot just next to our house at newly settled Mahinga farm, Kabazi, in the now Subukia Constituency. They were waiting to be addressed by one of the front runners in that year’s general election, the late Hon. Dickson Kihika Kimani.
In the swelling crowd of mainly elderly villagers were also curious youths and kids, and that is how I found myself in the midst of the gathering, although I wasn’t sure what that was all about. I was in class 1 and was totally unadulterated by politics, or any other worldly pleasures.
Almost an hour passed and Hon. Kihika Kimani had not come, but the crowd was still patiently waiting. Another and another went by and still Mheshimiwa had not shown up. Instead of the crowd dispersing, it was surprisingly growing bigger by the hour and obviously getting more excited.
Then a cloud of dust swirled up into the sky from far. I heard the elders saying “Ni akinya. Ni wee (he has arrived. He is the one).” I still wasn’t sure whom they were referring to. As the cloud of dust neared where we were, I heard the roaring of cars and then some hooting.
The cars came to a halt just on the edges of the public square as the crowd excitedly surged forward to mob the dignitaries.
A built up middle aged man with milk brilliant white teeth and a small gap between them stepped out of a new Range Rover car holding a walking stick on one hand and a flywhisk on the other. He kept whipping and punching the air with the two every time the people shouted in approval.
“Harambee!” Hon. Kihika Kimani shouted twice and the people answered back “Hooooo in as many times!”
“Kihika Juu! Kihika Juu!” The crowd continued in unmistakable rhythm of a line they were surely used to.
I had not heard his name before but the shouting and appreciation this Kihika Kimani was receiving from the villagers left a huge impression on me.
Hon. Kihika Kimani addressed the villagers for what to me looked like an eternity. I couldn’t follow the speech but I heard him mentioning names like, “Koigi Wamwere na vinyangarika wengine” who were out to paint the government of President Jomo Kenyatta’s government in a bad light.
“tutawasiagasiaga kama dudu.” I still remember Hon. Kihika Kimani saying. I didn’t know what dudu was and why they had to be turned into a posho meal but what I got from the drift was that the big man was angry at something.
Later on, and just before he left, Hon. Kihika Kimani’s campaign posters were fetched from the boot of his Range Rover and shared among the villagers. The kids too wanted some but they were scattered by the adults who told them. “Ici ti ciaguthaka nacio (these are not play things).
Apart from his polished rabblerousing oratory speech, punctuated and spiced with some naughty adults’ only words here and there, Hon. Kihika Kimani also appeared generous to the villagers. He dished new notes, lesos, blankets and sugar to almost everybody who attended the meeting. Sadly, the only kid who got a 10 shilling note was a boy with the name Kihika.
Kihika Waititu, for that was the boy’s name, grabbed the new note tightly in his small hand and broke into a sprint heading to their home. Kihika closely followed by his younger brother Kamendi only stopped after hitting the frame of their door, panting with untold happiness. Other kids’ effort to catch up with him for “their share” was fruitless.
Political campaigns had just started because later that night a suave young man whom I later discovered was, Koigi Wamwere, and whom Kihika had discussed at length earlier showed up with a sizeable crowd of jubilant supporters.
The crowd had a lady soloist who had a hand-held megaphone leading songs in praise of her preferred candidate while castigating Hon. Kihika Kimani. In two good hours, Koigi and his people walked through the muddy passageways in the village trying to convince people why he should be elected as the Nakuru North MP.
I think the villagers listened but they didn’t believe in him for Kihika Kimani finally trounced Koigi wa Wamwere with close to 800 votes. A gap of some 800 votes in 1974 was a huge gap between the two candidates. Koigi had his say but Hon. Kihika Kimani had the way in our village.
When decades later in London I reminded hon. Koigi wa Wamwere about his campaigns in our village, he was so surprised that I could remember all the happenings of that day and night that followed. He disclosed to me that the hand-held megaphone was donated to him by the then powerful Cabinet Minister, Mbiyu Koinange, who apparently was also Hon. Kihika Kimani’s best friend.
Kihika’s win was largely attributed to his remarkable organizational and leadership skills in assisting the poor Kenyans in the post-independence Kenya to form the giant Ngwataniro Land-buying company that settled thousands and thousands of the landless in the formerly white-owned farms in both Nakuru and Laikipia.
Beneficiaries of his good nature was repaid by being elected not once, not twice, not thrice but four times as a member of parliament representing three constituencies in both Nakuru and Laikipia counties.
Now, there is an old adage that says that a fruit does not fall far from the tree, and this is so true with the late Kihika Kimani and his politician daughter, the current Nakuru Senator and former Nakuru County Assembly Speaker, Hon. Susan Wakarura Kihika.
Mama Susan brings into Nakuru and national politics what her late father lacked – good education, international connection and experience, all wrapped in one cloth.
If Susan keeps the magical political streak of genius that her late father had, she is obviously bound to reap big, sweeping everybody away from political scene in her quest for top leadership position, inside and outside Nakuru County.
Susan has already demonstrated her unique and remarkable leadership prowess by not only becoming the first speaker of the Nakuru County Assembly, second senator of Nakuru county, second Majority Whip in the National Senate and now the President of the Bureau of Women Parliamentarians in the world.
Story by Joe mwangi.