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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mutula Kilonzo

the above link is where i got most of the information used in writing this piece. If you want more direct and therefore more reliable information about Mutula click and read away.

Mutula Kilonzo died last week and I feel strangely sad. Strangely sad because people don’t really grieve for politicians, aren’t they the ones who take away our money and don’t care one whit what happens to the rest of us. But he seems different, I haven’t heard stories of corruption or greed or him using any of the divisive politics that everyone else employed. I know nothing Jon Snow about anything wrong this guy ever did. That’s not enough though for how I feel about his death, there’s something sad about a death so sudden it makes us forget that it was 64 years in the coming.

I looked for articles about him and read about his amazing life, his rise from rags to riches. He wants to be a lawyer because someone takes away his parent’s land. He succeeds and is  the first student to ever get a first class honours degree in law from the university of Dar-es-Salaam which is the only university to offer law in east Africa. He goes on to make his first million within 8 months of finishing at the Kenya school of law. It must be remembered that this is 1975. A million in 1975 is significantly worth more than a million now. And even now anyone who makes a million within a year of finishing school is still lauded and on a slow news day gets an article written about him or her. In a twist of fate right out of a Jeffrey Archer novel he buys back the land that initially inspired him to be a lawyer.

He buys more land. He buys enough land that he can buy lions. Lions! Lions!! Lions!!! This is Lannister wealth now. Lions eat a lot of meat and he is rich enough to keep them in the fat for years. How he made his money is not something we know but can put together from breadcrumbs along the way. Right place at the right time. The brilliance of mind that led to a first class honours in law and the charisma that was on display every time he went on a public podium. Also that time Hosea Kiplagat, former President Daniel Moi’s nephew, asks him to shave his goatee and takes him for a meeting with the great man. A meeting that turns into a most profitable relationship professionally, financially and personally. These are things that can make you enough money to buy lions. Lions! Lions!!! He says he is once offered 60 million shillings to sabotage a case by another advocate. He turns it down, “I work with my daughter and son, what moral teaching would I be giving them if I could accept financial reward for misrepresentation?”

In due time he turns to politics. First he resists pressure to join. Then he begins to appear on Crossfire on kiss fm. And this was probably the first we ever heard of him. There are vague stirrings of those memories as dreams, I’m not sure I actually heard him but I feel like I did. Later he is nominated to parliament by Uhuru Kenyatta. He joins, he serves and like everyone who has a taste of it he finds that he enjoys politics. So much so that he wants to run for the post of chairman of Kanu against Uhuru and Biwott. He pulls out of this though and in one of those classic he-said, she-said cases of political wrangling and manoeuvring we will never really know the reason. However talking about it he displays a kind of political idealism that’s sweet to find expressed in the mouths of babes, whether or not he actually means what he says is not something I can speak to, “I could not believe it, here was the official leader of the Opposition, an alternate president of this country, in the presence of all his supporters including myself dishing out thousands of shillings to delegates in full view of journalists with their cameras rolling, how can you expect any election to be fair after that? I was glad I pulled-out when I did. Biwott was giving out money and so was Uhuru. I feel like I have failed in my process of attempting to revitalize Kanu … I feel really terrible about it.”

In 2005when he goes against the government trying to enact  freedom of information act the KRA attaches his whole salary as an MP. He goes home with nothing but an offer to retract this if he plays ball. This is the same guy who turned down 60 million shillings and owns lions, lions. Lions!!!. Needless to say he doesn’t budge.

More recently he is made the Minister of Justice and Constitutional affairs a post held by other Kenyan political legends like Tom Mboya and Charles Njonjo. This happens at a time when a new constitution has been passed, a constitution that needs reams and reams of supporting legislation. He works diligently at getting bills ready and trying to pass them. He is rewarded for his sins by being moved to the ministry of education. Now, Kenyan cabinet reshuffles up until the new constitution started working have always been a game of musical chairs with the music being the ominous horror of the omen series. While Moi was president you would watch the 1 o’clock news to see who had been fired and who hadn’t. Kibaki famously fired his whole cabinet, the whole cabinet in 2005. And ministries have been used as an R and R scheme mixed with tribal placation for so long it’s difficult to think that anyone is ever fired because they did a less than stellar job.

As minister of education he dances, and dances and blasts teachers for forcing girls to wear mini-skirts. Our girls are not nuns and what do you think it means to make them dress like nuns. Of course there is blowback from this, this is a Christian country after all. However as recent events show this is a man who knows a thing or two or maybe all the things about raising a daughter in this crazy turbulent world. In one of those things that makes me believe his life really is a novel the last law case he is involved in is the biggest one the country ever sees. The Supreme Court election petition of 2013 where as he watches proudly his daughter puts out one of the most endearing, emotive performances ever seen by a Kenyan lawyer on television. She speaks and argues with the dexterity of a master. When she makes a reference to his tenure of service as minister of justice the whole court erupts in laughter as he tries his best to compose his face into stone. This man raised Kethi Kilonzo one of the  brainiest, beautifulest , eloquentest women ever and we think he doesn’t know what he’s saying when he says girls shouldn’t wear mini-skirts?

Last Saturday he visits his farm. Maybe he sees his lions. He enjoys the stars. Has a dinner of githeri and nyama choma(because rich people are eccentric.) Goes to sleep and never wakes up. And when I hear about it I am unaccountably sad. I know nothing of his story until later when I start reading about it. Yet I feel sad, strangely weirdly sad. I don’t know if I’m the only one who feels this way like they don’t know why they are sad about his passing and so try to find out about his life. I don’t know. But Mutula is dead and that’s one of the saddest public deaths to happen in a year that already had a lot of famous people drop out of the world.

RIP is what I’m trying to say. You went out with pride(because…lions! Lions!! Lions!!!)

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