By Dorcas S
Strongmen come and go. Every regime in Kenya had its own fair share of powerful individuals who had the President’s ear. They ruled by proxy. They were the real power behind the throne. They pulled strings and determined the destiny of the country. During Jomo’s reign there was Mbiyu Koinange. Mbiyu was not boisterous and loud. He was quiet and unassuming but was very close to the seat of power. He was Minister of State in the office of the President, a thorough and highly educated man.
Eliud Mahihu, the then Coast Provincial Commissioner was another member of the kitchen cabinet. No wonder Jomo Kenyatta used to spend a lot of time in Mombasa, breathing his last in the coastal city.
It is this group that attempted to block the then Vice President, Daniel Arap Moi from ascending to the Presidency in the event of the President’s demise. This Kikuyu the elite working under the banner of the Change the Constitution Group tried very hard to block Moi and install one of their own. The likes of Kihika Kimani and Dr. Njoroge Mungai, the President’s personal physician and a minister were at the centre of this scheme. Their tribal designs were thwarted by the then Attorney General, Sir Charles Njonjo, the London educated Aristocrat, who believed in everything English, including language, mannerisms and dress code. His black stripped suit was his trade mark. He had no time for tribal bigots and psycophants. When Moi took the reigns of power he rewarded him with the powerful ministry of Justice and Constitutional affairs. He later fell out with the President and was kicked out unceremoniously. He never recovered.
Nicholas Kipyator Biwott called the shots during Moi’s era. His small frame and frail voice were deceptive. He was a shrewd and cunning politician who effectively used his proximity to the President to amass wealth and abrogate power to himself.
He was nicknamed the ‘Bull of Auckland’ for allegedly trying to rape a woman on one of his numerous trips abroad. Of course the matter was spoken in hushed tones and the allegations never saw the light of day. Other powerful individuals during Moi era were Hezekiah Oyugi, the Minister of State in charge of Provincial Administration, Ezekiel Bargetuny, Mark Too, Joshua Kulei, Kariuki Chotara, The illiterate Mulu Mutisya and Moses Sabstone Mudamba Mudavadi.
During Kibaki’s Presidency, Chris Murungaru was very powerful. He was the Minister of internal security. His imposing frame and thunderous voice scared the wits out of miscreants. David Mwiraria who oversaw the Finance ministry also wielded real power. John Michuki, he of the ‘if you rattle a snake expect to be bitten’ fame also enjoyed sweeping powers, which he largely used for the benefit of the country. I am thinking of the Michuki rules which brought sanity on our roads and his efforts to tame the dreaded Mungiki sect.
Other members of Kibaki’s kitchen cabinet included Francis Muthaura, head of civil service and secretary to the cabinet, Francis Kimemia, internal security, Amos Kimunya, the ‘ I would rather die than resign’ fellow. During the coalition government, these guys were used to frustrate and emasculate Raila, ensuring that real power remained with Kibaki.
Now we have Aden Duale, loud mouthed, boisterous, belligerent and fire spitting. He makes a career out of attacking Raila. That is how he endears himself to the powers that be. He even has the guts to threaten a member of the Judiciary on account of his tribe and rulings! Duale must be reminded that the Judiciary is an independent arm of government and does not answer to the Executive.
Power brokers come and go. Raila has been around long enough. The wannabes who tried to bring him down are long gone, and forgotten, struggling in political oblivion. Duale should tone down and do what his electorate and the Constitution mandates him to do. He will be lucky to maintain this enviable position next year, even if Uhuru wins. History has shown that such politicians only last a term. Uhuru’s second term (God forbid) will usher in new power brokers and spin masters. Duale will be relegated to a mere flower girl struggling to get the President’s ear. He is not in Raila’s league and will never get anywhere near Raila, a respected personality who wines and dines with world leaders!