Immortalised in the annals of English literature is a line from William Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, which reads in part: “Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once.”
A defiant acclaim for those who choose not to cower at the presence of adversity, but instead, decide to face it with courage.
In many ways, the late retired Major-General Joseph Kasaine ole Nkaissery epitomised that valiant spirit; that defiance; that indefatigable refusal to cower in the face of difficulty.
He personified the singular Kenyan spirit of resilience, valour, hard work and true patriotism.
As we gradually come to terms with his death, I am reminded of the exemplary service he gave in his career and the immense sacrifices he had to make over time in order to fully devote himself to serving the country to safeguard its people and uphold its integrity.
From when he joined the Kenya Army in 1973 to when he was elected to Parliament in 2007 to represent Kajiado Central constituency; and later head the Interior security docket, he showed an archetypal leadership that has influenced many.
I had the pleasure and privilege of working with him both when we served together in Parliament, and during my term as President.
Throughout that time, I found him to be an exceptional public servant. He was direct: he did not mince his words.
He was efficient: he did not waste time or resources.
He was a patriot: he loved the country and all its people, which is why he dedicated his life to protecting it, and to keeping fellow Kenyans safe.
When he became the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, we were facing challenges in our internal security – mainly from terrorist attacks.
At which point, I could not think of anyone better to take over leadership of that docket.
It was an immense sacrifice for him to resign from his role as an MP, to take on a bigger responsibility for the nation.
Naturally, unrestricted by his then political party allegiance, he accepted the job of serving the people of Kenya in my administration, demonstrating his resolve to serve in the national interest by putting the country above party politics.
The impact of his leadership in the docket was immediate.
Under his watch, there was better coordination of security operations, leading to reduced cases of terrorist attacks, and enhanced prevention of crime.
More recently, his insights were critical in the formulation of my plan for strengthening our nation’s security, which seeks to expand the Integrated Command, Control and Communication Centre to cover other towns and Nairobi;
Enhance community participation in security by strengthening the Nyumba Kumi initiative (community participation in policing as he often called it);
Strengthen the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit by acquiring more specialised vehicles;
Provide modern equipment and train officers to expand our border protection capacity;
Expand the capacity of the Anti-Stock Theft Unit; modernise the National Police Service Air-wing to improve aerial surveillance;
Construct 20,000 houses annually for police officers and prison warders and establish a Level Five National Police Service hospital;
And equip the newly completed Forensic Laboratory to enhance criminal investigations.
His passion for the safety and security was evident here.
To say that Maj-Gen (Rtd) Nkaissery has left big boots for us to fill is by no measure an overstatement.
The onus is on us to emulate him by ensuring that we place the country above self-interests and political ambitions to achieve the dreams that our forerunners set for us many years ago.
Let us take a moment to reflect on the life of a man who repeatedly put the country’s interests above self, and emulate that principle for a more prosperous, peaceful and united country.
Mr Kenyatta is President and Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces
He showed an archetypal leadership that has influenced many.