January 5, 2013


It is understandable too that at the end of a lifetime in ‘public service’ he should look to his legacy and consider the defining moments of his life

More by Correspondent

President Mwai Kibaki’s Legacy And Defining Moments

President Mwai Kibaki is rapidly approaching retirement. It is understandable that his mind should turn to providing for himself and his family in old age: on that front he has no worries. It is understandable too that at the end of a lifetime in ‘public service’ he should look to his legacy and consider the defining moments of his life: here he does have a problem, the two are not the same and in Kibaki’s case the latter will surely obscure, if not blot out, memory of the former.


As a graduate of the London School of Economics and a former Finance Minister, Kibaki will find the arithmetic very easy, and as the beneficiary, very pleasing. MP’s have awarded him a ‘farewell’ Sh50 million payout on leaving office and a monthly pension of not less than Sh1 million per month (Presidential Retirement Benefits Ammendment Bill 2012). There will be other benefits such as security, staff and cars, so Kenya’s third president won’t do too badly in retirement.


That’s all a lot of money and meanwhile a considerable sum has been thrown at securing President Kibaki’s legacy.

It was hard to miss. All the newspapers carried it at the end of December: a 64-page pull-out entitled, ‘Building a Working and Caring Nation’ and subtitled, ‘Mwai Kibaki and the Transformation of Kenya’. Who paid for it all is not known to the Kenya Forum: the Kenyan taxpayer? Or was it vanity publishing paid for by Kibaki himself?


The front page also carried the statement that: ‘Sworn in as President ten years ago today, he came into office with clear ideas, shaped by values and experience of half a century in public life, on how to rebuild Kenya. As he prepares to leave office, President Kibaki and the NARC and Grand Coalition Governments have laid the foundation for prosperity’.


On the inside covers, President Kibaki, or at least somebody on his behalf, laid claim to expanding Kenya’s primary and secondary school education sector; to increasing growth in agriculture; aiding the development of a free media; ushering in a new constitution; providing more doctors and health facilities; a better economy; better roads; expanding irrigation systems, and much more.

Another angle on President Kibaki’s claim to a legacy however, was highlighted in an article in The Star on Wednesday in which columnist Wycliffe Muga made the telling point that after Daniel arap Moi’s 24 years in power anyone who succeeded him ‘was bound to look good’ (The True Legacy of President Kibaki).


The pull out was also liberally filled with photos of Kibaki caught at key moments in Kenya’s history: Kibaki with Jomo Kenyatta and Tom Mboya celebrating KANU’s electoral victory in 1963; Kibaki about to deliver his first budget as Finance Minister; Kibaki with Moi; Kibaki at J M Kariuki’s funeral;  Kibaki with Kofi Annan and Raila Odinga, and so on…


Well Mwai Kibaki is part of Kenya’s modern history and maybe Kibaki did enter State House a decade ago with clear ideas. One can argue too as to how much he and his governments have done to develop Kenya and the lives of Kenyans. The truth is that in any case it is probably too soon to know whether he and they had any lasting, beneficial impact.


The point surely is this: President Kibaki wishes to declare and establish his legacy. In doing so he has asked the Kenyan people to look at the claimed results of his years of public service and particularly his decade as President of Kenya by looking at the defining moments of that period. Yet of course, there is only one really defining moment in Kibaki’s time in the highest office.

When after the election of 2007, the results delayed and disputed, security forces of on the streets, and Chief Justice Evans Gicheru, bible in hand, at the dead of night, ‘furtively’ swore Kibaki in as president for a second term, the defining moment of his time in office was set in the memories of the Kenyan people.

Whatever his legacy may, or may not be, Mwai Kibaki will go down in Kenya’s history, as the man who for a while stole the country’s democracy. Little else matters. His legacy is lost.


Related Articles