Whenever Laikipia Senator GG Kariuki took the floor, the House assumed a loud silence.
His contribution not only went against the usual political correctness displayed by politicians but was also spiced up with historical antecedents that most of the lawmakers only read about in books.
GG, who died Friday aged 79, occasionally dismissed his colleagues with ruthlessness. As a result, few would dare take him on.
The senator, the fourth to die in office since 2013, rose from a white settler’s ‘kitchen boy’ to a minister and lawmaker in the four post-independence administrations.
His sense of wit betrayed his advancing age.
GG, as he was fondly referred to, was shy of being an octogenarian by a year but was more physically fit than many 55-year-olds.
This was largely due to his love for martial arts, which he wanted taught in schools to instil self-discipline in learners.
During a burial in Laikipia last year, he left mourners in stitches when he equated the twisted walking style he had adopted lately to a strict physical regime.
“You must be wondering why this old man is walking like a man suffering from syphilis. This is a result of my love for martial arts, a sport which has made it possible for me to live this long,” he said.
Close associates told the Nation that Dr Kariuki had been in and out of a London hospital in the last one year.
The only lawmaker to have served in the Kenyatta, Moi, Kibaki and now Uhuru governments, GG was elected to Parliament six times and thrown out three times.
He was a powerful Internal Security minister during the 1982 attempted coup and until the current Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery was appointed, he maintained that those at the helm of the security apparatus had lost the plot and that terrorists had won the moral war.
Fluent in Maa and Turkana languages, in addition to his mother tongue Kikuyu, GG was able to navigate through the multi-ethnic county, speaking to the people he represented in their own language, something that endeared him to them for that long.
He never shied away from voicing strong positions on varied subjects.
Interviewed by the Nation in April 2014, he explained why he disliked local journalists.
“Most Kenyan journalists are lazy in terms of the questions they ask. I do not understand why they cannot ask critical questions,” he said.
On Friday, there was an outpouring of condolence messages from across the political divide.
Deputy President William Ruto led the pack.
“The veteran politician leaves an indelible mark in the Kenyan body politic and national psyche.
“He will be remembered for his role in settling the people in the Ngarua and Muhotetu resettlement schemes in Laikipia at a time the region was dominated by white settlers.”
Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga said GG was a pragmatic politician who understood the perils and joys of public service.
Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki remembered Dr Kariuki as a towering intellectual, whose contributions to democracy in Kenya will be remembered for generations to come.
“Kenya and Laikipia have lost a great patriot, politician, scholar and elder. GG was like a father to me,” Prof Kindiki said.
Turkana Governor and Council of Governors Chairman Josephat Nanok said Dr Kariuki would be remembered for the part he played in the settlement of the landless in Laikipia.
Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro said GG distinguished himself as a fine lawmaker, bringing the long political experience since joining the pioneer members of the first bicameral Parliament after independence in 1963, and later as a member of the first Senate under the current Constitution.
Deputy Speaker of the Senate Kembi Gitura said Dr Kariuki’s death had robbed the country of a great man of vast political experience.
Mr Gitura led a minute of silence in honour of the lawmaker during an ongoing retreat for senators and editors at English Point Marina in Mombasa.
Kirinyaga Senator Daniel Karaba said Dr Kariuki was a moving encyclopaedia, who knew everything about Parliament and its proceedings.
Reported by Caroline Wafula, Justus Wanga, Steve Njuguna and Daniel Nyassy