When politician Kihika Kimani died in November 2004, his family had a difficult time getting someone to be the main speaker at his burial. Reason: When he was alive, the politician had crossed swords with just about everybody. According to Karume’s autobiography, From Charcoal to Gold, it had to take a lot of persuasion for him to agree to speak at Kihika’s burial.
I, too, was once a victim of the politician’s venomous tongue. My photographer and I had gone to interview him at his Bahati home in Nakuru County some time in the 1990s while working for the Kanu owned newspaper, Kenya Times.
We found him asleep. When he came out of the house, he gave us one dismissive look and asked his worker: “You mean you have disturbed my sleep to come and talk to school boys!”
We made things all the worse to tell him we worked for the Kenya Times: “Who told you I talk to Moi’s dogs!” he barked at us: “I know he (Moi) has sent you to spy on me.
Go and tell him I have refused to talk to you”. I took a lot of foaming in the mouth before we finally got him to talk.
I would later learn that my friend, photographer Raphael Munge, had an even nastier experience when he made the mistake of asking the elderly politician whether he was father of some toddlers he saw in the compound: “That is a silly question”, Kihika had snapped: “Did you ever hear me call a harambee asking to be helped to sire babies!”
Once at a public rally in Laikipia County, the rabble-rouser in Kihika almost made fellow leaders scamper for cover when he publicly asked for monetary donations to buy guns to topple Moi’s government.
The occasion was the burial of 19 people killed during ethnic clashes in the aftermath of 1997 elections.
While every other politician, including leader of opposition Mwai Kibaki, was content at just condemning the killings, the voluble Kihika had gone a step further: “We can’t keep complaining every time our people are slaughtered like chicken. Today we are raising money to buy arms and chase Moi out of State House!”
As everybody blushed and looked for the nearest escape route, Kibaki walked over to Kihika and requested him to go slow in his verbal outbursts.
Another time he made politician GG Kariuki to literally run away when they bumped into each other at the Thompson Falls Lodge, Nyahururu town. Immediately Kihika spotted GG Kariuki, he had screamed from over 50 metres: “What is wrong with you GG? We have lit fire under Moi’s ass, and here you’re trying to put out the fire using saliva. You won’t succeed!”
When Moi was Vice-President in Mzee Kenyatta’s government, Kihika never hid his political loathing for Moi. Once when they bumped into each other at the Attorney-General’s chambers, Kihika had asked AG Charles Njonjo within Moi’s hearing: “Why are you defending this man? I can politically finish him in a day!”
At that time, Kihika was leading a highly charged campaign to delete from the Constitution the clause that allowed the Vice-President to act as the President for 90 days in case there was a vacancy in the office of the President.
The idea was to deny Moi a direct chance to automatically take over as President in an acting capacity in case the ageing President Jomo Kenyatta was no more.
In one of the change-the-constitution meetings held in Meru town, Kihika had charged: “I don’t joke around with anybody. I am a very dangerous man and can dispatch to the other world any man, any time!
He went on: “Right now I can mobilise a million signatures and go and tell President Kenyatta that we don’t want that man (Moi) as his No 2. We don’t joke around with anybody!”
Yet at another meeting in Nakuru, Kihika had erupted: “If I know you have intentions to kill me, I will sabotage your plans and have you killed in broad daylight. Because I am not a fool, I will take the first opportunity to kill you. Why should I allow you to kill me and let my family suffer while your children are eating and drinking comfortably!”
He went on to dare the security Intelligence to arrest or kill him if they felt offended by what he was saying: “Whoever would like to inform the police Special Branch what Kihika is saying can go ahead and do so. What do I care even if I die tomorrow? I have 18 children, some of whom are in university and others in high school. So what do I lose by dying? I have not sired any children recently.
As for me, I am now approaching my final days. I have fulfilled my worldly mission. You go and tell the police it is Kihika who said it. I don’t take madness from anybody even if he is the Vice-President or whatever he calls himself!”
After AG Njonjo declared the change-the-constitution illegal and warned Kihika and his ilk that they risked prosecution, Kihika had gone ballistic: “I fear nothing and nobody. Who is Njonjo to threaten me? Where was he when I was fighting for Independence? He was a boot-licker for the white man!”
After addressing a campaign rally in Naivasha three weeks ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta had suddenly noticed the newly-elected Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika and charged: “Madam Senator, I have a quarrel with you! I hear you are politically messing up everything, and everybody, but we will talk when we get to Nairobi.” Could it be a case of like father like daughter!
Famous for using derogatory slams against his perceived enemies, he recently disturbed the peace of Nakuru County.