Obituary

Mwai Kibaki: He was to be killed in the ‘night of the long knives’

 His assassins were to be armed with automatic Uzi submachine guns fitted with silencers

Lucky escape: Nairobi Archbishop Philip Anyolo blesses the remains of the late President Mwai Kibaki. He died of heart related complications at 90, but over 40 years ago, he was earmarked for assassination that did not take place due to accidents of geography. His last words to his family were: ‘Stay together. Take care of my grandchildren.’

By Undercover Reporter

The intelligent but hard drinking dude, who owned less than 10 suits in his life, was to be murdered in cold blood at State House Nakuru on August 22, 1978-the night of the long knives. His assassins were to report armed with automatic Uzi submachine guns fitted with silencers. 

The late President Mwai Kibaki was never murdered in a life lived with streaks of pure luck: He was taken to school for being the ‘least useful.’ Like most last borns, Kibaki was pressure-free, babied, lazy and so laidback even as head of state he often woke up at 10am, worked four hours before snoozing the afternoon away.

He lived long before succumbing to heart related complications at 90 in between many secretive medical flights abroad.

But Kibaki was to be murdered on the day Kenyatta would be pronounced dead at State House Nakuru- where Kibaki was to be summoned alongside Vice President Daniel arap Moi and Attorney General Charles Njonjo.

The killer squad was to shoot every top military and police brass alongside all Ministers from their homes

Son of a Gun: Former Rift Valley Police boss, James Ephantus Mungai, often known for having issued military slaps on the Nandi cheeks of Daniel arap Moi, confessed to training the Ngoroko killer squad which targeted Kibaki’s head. Mungai who lives in his Engashura farm in Nakuru, where he’s bending his late 80s, fled Kenya to avoid detention.

They were to be fingered in Kenyatta’s death and shot dead by the Ngoroko, a killer squad within the highly trained Kenya Anti-Stock Theft Unit.

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But Kibaki, then Finance Minister, was in Mombasa on a ‘working holiday’ with President Jomo Kenyatta-who died in his sleep on that day.  

In the biography, Moi: The Making of an African Statesman, Andrew Morton informs that the Ngoroko (soldiers) were trained clandestinely under ambitiously ruthless Rift Valley police boss James Ephantus Mungai-who confessed to the assassination plot to Njonjo, before fleeing via Turkana, Sudan to cold old Europe- when the assassination backfired.

Morton notes that after killing Kibaki & Co., the Ngoroko were to shoot every top military and police brass alongside all Ministers from their homes.

The Ngoroko masterminds were then to announce new military and political command structures in the Kenyatta Succession.

Inside Mungai’s Range Rover were two double-barreled rifles and a pistol-in case he was followed

Queen of Drama: The late President Mwai Kibaki and late First Lady Lucy Kibaki. She caused hell whenever second wife Mary Wambui, MP for Othaya, was mentioned. Lucy died in 2016, leaving an estate worth Sh200 million after liabilities. It comprised: two prime parcels of land in Nyali, Mombasa County then valued at Sh80 million, 28,400 shares (worth Sh281,160) in Barclays (now Absa), Sh1 million in
her savings account, Sh70 million in a High Yield savings account and Sh390, 000 in a current account. She was Kibaki’s second biggest source of embarrassment after his sacking as Vice President.

 Morton writes that the situation could have turned tragic still, since when Kenyatta died, Moi was in his Kabarak home in Nakuru. But he managed to side step a road block mounted by the Ngoroko who expected a huge convoy, security detail and all.  But Moi was advised to travel light and the Ngoroko missed him.

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Mungai who lives in his Engashura farm in Nakuru where he’s bending his late 80s, fled Kenya to avoid detention.

Inside Mungai’s Range Rover, KLM 874, were two double-barreled rifles and a pistol-in case he was followed during the 530 kilometre journey. He also carried a blanket, diplomatic passport and six jerrycans of petrol.

Mungai wrote letters seeking pardon, but fearing Sudan would spirit him to Nairobi, flew  to Switzerland.

To cut a long story short, Kibaki was always lucky his entire life: From high school in Mang’u,  Makerere University, Uganda, London School of Economics, executive at Shell, economics lecturer, Executive Officer of KANU, MP, Cabinet Minister, Vice President, Opposition politics and on to President on a ‘Kibaki Tosha Ticket’ in 2002, this sleepy last born hardly worked hard for anything.

 In fact, while fellow politicians were often arrested and detained at Nyayo House Torture Chambers, Kibaki’s favourite drinking pastime was laughing at recollections of those who had survived on government posho in jail.

The only drama in Kibaki’s long life was the humiliation, being sacked as Vice President, and his dramatic wives

Inside closed doors: The late President Kibaki, the First Lady and their children and grandchildren. From left is Cheryl and behind her Jimmy Kibaki, but the two divorced and Jimmy remarried. Life hardly changed when Kibaki was sacked as Vice President. All of them were born when Kibaki was an MP, was Vice President in their teens and adults when he was in Opposition. Even as President, little changed, besides those in big time hustles like Jimmy and Judy losing business opportunities with government. Or so they often say.

 Somehow, in 50 years in Kenya’s volatile politics, Kibaki was rarely in the middle of tear gas canisters or demonstrations despite having been in Opposition where riots are common fodder!

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The only drama in Kibaki’s long-lumbering life was the humiliation, being sacked as Vice President by the vindictively conniving President Daniel arap Moi in 1988. Two years earlier, Moi had closed down several small Kikuyu owned banks including one owned by Kibaki through proxy.

In sacking Kibaki, Moi was clipping the Kenyatta-era Kikuyu power base and there was no bigger fish in Sagana River than Kibaki. He replaced him with Dr Josephat Njuguna Karanja, a fellow Kikuyu, albeit a political greenhorn without a national power base. Dr Njuguna would shortly be crying in the political toilet, died in oblivion years later.

Kibaki’s fall from grace saw the MD of the family holding company, Lucia Ltd, fleeing alongside employees of their forex bureaus. Never mind the said MD coined his billions from the Kibakis.

Lucy Kibaki’s volcanic tempers saw men with parental hair on their chests receive military slaps in public

Sister-to-Sister: Mary Wambui, former MP for Othaya with Lucy Kibaki and daughter Judy Kibaki, after she became wife number two in 1977. The two would later be sources of endless public drama that embarrassed the shy Kibaki.

That aside, the children Jimmy, Judy, David and Tony Kibaki had been brought up by the stern mother Lucy Kibaki such that little changed without the trappings of power. After all, they could have afforded their own drivers, bodyguards.

The calm domestic exterior though was often rippled by the women in Kibaki’s life:  starting with second wife Hon Mary Wambui, former MP for Othaya, whom he wed in a Kikuyu customary ceremony in 1977.

Taking a second wife was from the stress the late First Lady, Lucy Kibaki, subjected him to, escalating to hard drinking, his liver was the subject of a London hospital admission in 1976.

Lucy Kibaki’s volcanic tempers saw men with parental hair on their chests receive military slaps in public. Like the state house MC who called her ‘Lucy Wambui’ during a Jamhuri Day banquette in 2007. Kibaki, Commander-in-Chief who sent Linda Nchi troops to die for the country in Somalia, just stared, impotently.

Mortal coil: The late President Kibaki’s final resting place in his rural home in Othaya, Nyeri County. He rarely visited upcountry even long after he left the presidency. He was a city boy with few friends in rural Othaya.

As President, Kibaki’s henchmen also had to deal with Mary Wambui and daughter Winnie Mwai’s dalliance with Armenian mercenaries, Artur Magaryan and Artur Sargasyan who hit town in 2006. The government’s raid on Standard Group that year was from fears it planned on exposing some multi-billion trafficking business the Armenian Brothers were fronting for the Second Family.

After Lucy died in 2016 and Wambui stayed in the background, Kibaki was left with his golfing buddies with whom he enjoyed muteta soup at his Muthaiga home, Nairobi until his death.

Emilio Mwai Kibaki will be buried in his Othaya farm on April 30, 2022.

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