President Uhuru Kenyatta officially announced Mwai Kibaki’s death on Friday in a televised address at State House, Nairobi.
Emilio Stanley Mwai Kibaki, popularly known as Mwai Kibaki, served as Kenya’s third president from December 2002 until April 2013. He was born on November 15th, 1931 in Gatuyaini, Nyeri County. Kibaki was the youngest of 8 children of the late Kibaki Githinji and the late Teresia Wanjiku.
As a boy, Kibaki was smart and intelligent. He was baptized as a boy and became was a member of the Catholic Church. He passed well in his primary school and he got admitted into Mang’u High School. He studied here between 1947 and 1950.
He got remarkable results and earned himself a scholarship to Makerere University in Uganda. Here, he studied economics, political science, and history. He was chair of the Kenya Students Association, a leading position in the Makerere Students Guild. Kibaki graduated from Makerere with distinction in 1955.
He was assistant manager at Uganda Shell Company for 3 years. He got a scholarship to study at the London School of Economics. He excelled in economics and public finance. He was offered a lecturer role at the Makerere University where he lectured economics in 1960. When Kenya gained its independence from Great Britain, in 1963, Kibaki resigned his position and joined the Kenya African National Union (KANU).
In 1963, he was elected Member of Parliament for the Othaya constituency. The late President, Jomo Kenyatta appointed him as the minister of finance and economic planning in 1969. He gained experience and reputation which made President Moi, appoint him as his Vice president in 1978 following the death of Jomo Kenyatta. He was given the finance portfolio in Moi’s regime which contributed to the financial prosperity of the country. In 1982, he was assigned the portfolio of home affairs.
As Moi became autocratic, he made KANU the only legitimate political party. Moi assumed all the power and demoted him to the ministry of health in 1988. He disagreed with President Moi a lot and this led to his resignation from KANU in 1991 after the repealing of section 2 A of the constitution. Kibaki went on to form the Democratic Party (DP). He ran for the presidency and lost.
In 2002, Kibaki together with the likes of Raila Odinga and Martha Karua, formed the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) which won the 2002 elections, putting an end to the 40-year KANU regime. During his time in the country’s top seat, Kenya experienced economic prosperity.
WHAT DO WE REMEMBER KIBAKI FOR?
In 2003, President Kibaki introduced free primary education for all children in Kenya, which saw an increase in the country’s literacy levels as many children failed to go to school as it wasn’t affordable. He revitalized the health sector and there was notable change as life expectancy and infant mortality figures improved considerably from the year 2002 up to 2012.
He revived the country’s economy which was in turmoil. He made policies that encouraged Multinational Companies to invest in Kenya fostering growth and development for Kenyans.
The former President introduced the constituency development fund (CDF) which improved matters of health, infrastructure, and even education that would be managed by members of parliament.
Kibaki will always be remembered for the construction of the famous Thika Super Highway that eased transport and connected many places to Nairobi. This move improved trade and boosted the economy. Congestion, as well as road accidents, became minimal. \
Kibaki spearheaded the 2010 constitution which was Kenya’s first since independence. This saw the onset of devolution.
President Kibaki was a family man. In 1962, he married the love of his life, Lucy Muthoni. They were blessed with 4 children, a daughter, Judy, and three sons, Jimmy, Tony, and David. He was a grandfather to many.
He enjoyed playing golf and he spent most of his free time playing the sport.
He passed on peacefully in his retirement home in Nyeri County aged 90. He will forever be remembered as one of the best presidents Kenya has had.
By Erastus Gachacha