What I loved and hated about being Kibaki’s principal deputy
In this third instalment of former VP Moody Awori’s memoirs, Riding on a Tiger, he reveals how Mwai Kibaki was overcome with grief upon the death of his deputy Kijana Wamalwa and how he took over the position.
Although the President’s health was not yet good, Vice-President Kijana Wamalwa’s was deteriorating faster, giving a lot of concern to the President and the country as a whole.
Kijana Wamalwa was hospitalised in London just after six months in office.
As Vice President, his ill health received a lot of media attention and many people, including senior government officials who were in the USA or Europe, passed via London to visit him.
As always, when there is inadequate information, particularly about a popular senior politician in Kenya, speculation sets in.
Former Vice-President Kijana Wamalwa. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
The President relied on Cabinet Ministers and other government officials (who made a stopover in London while en route to other destinations) to brief him.
Sometime in 1970, I was approached by a prominent Kenyan lawyer, James Hamilton, a senior partner in one of the oldest legal firms, Hamilton, Harrison and Mathews Advocates.
Besides having a very distinguished legal career, which included a lot of pro bono work, Hamilton was a very pious man, active in the Anglican Church matters at the All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi.
At that time, an old English publishing house, Macmillan Publishers, had been selling school and other books for many years through Text Book Centre (TBC).
Macmillan felt it was time to establish a fully fledged local set-up of its own in Kenya.
To this end, Hamilton registered a new company, Macmillan East Africa Publishers Ltd.
He asked me to join the new board to help the company to grow.
I brought with me a friend, an eminent educationist, Joe Kimaru to the board.
The parent company in the UK sent a young Scottish lad, Frank Slater, as Managing Director. Progressively, we increased our local staff at the management level.
Soon we needed a Sales Manager and advertised the vacancy, which attracted several applications.
After interviewing several on the short list, there was one who outshone all the candidates.
We settled on this young graduate teacher, David Muita.
Right from the beginning, David was a highly motivated young man who truly loved books.
As a teacher, he had a good rapport with other teachers. He passionately persuaded them to buy Macmillan books.
It did not take long before both the local board and Macmillan in the UK to realise the potential of David.
Rather than waste him by making him work under an expatriate managing director, who was less qualified, we appointed David as Managing Director. Thereafter, the company grew rapidly.
David appreciated the potential of local authors. He encouraged them and always offered suggestions.
He accepted quite a number of manuscripts that had been rejected by other publishers. Over time, many of those earlier rejected manuscripts, which we published were best sellers and hence paid dividends.
As Chairman of Macmillan Kenya Publishers since 1974, I travelled to London annually for meetings with the parent company in the UK.
In August 2003, I travelled with my wife for the Macmillan meeting. Before I left for London, I called at State House.
The President asked me to check on his Vice President at the hospital even though reports indicated that he was getting better.
On arrival in London, the High Commission helped me reach, via telephone, the Great North Hospital, where Kijana Wamalwa was hospitalised.
I was put through to George Arodi, the Vice President’s Director of Communications.
For some reason, Arodi was evasive and would not let me know when I could see the Vice President.
I sensed the parochial attitudes and political insularity common in Nairobi.
Apparently, he was consulting with Ford-Kenya officials. I called several times but they could not tell me when I could visit.
I had earlier run into Dr Newton Kulundu, the Minister for Health, who was also in London and we decided to visit the Vice President together.
When we reached the hospital, the Vice President’s political handlers could not allow us to see him.
Dr Kulundu was very upset. He told them that he was a medical doctor used to seeing patients even in their worst conditions.
He told them that he had seen dying and dead people and that he was at ease with any human medical condition.
Minister for Health, Newton Kulundu. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
We tried for two days to see the sick Wamalwa but we hit a brick wall.
At about 6.30 am on the third day, I received a call in our hotel room from our London High Commission with a request to go urgently to the Great North Hospital immediately.
When my wife and I reached the hospital, we were informed that the Vice President had died.
It was 23 August, 2003. The Vice President’s young wife, Yvonne Wamalwa, was there, weeping and extremely distressed.
The President in Nairobi needed to be told immediately.
The High Commissioner was in Nairobi but her deputy, a Mr Kiogora, was not only available but knew what to do via the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Fortunately, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, the Minister for Trade, was visiting his in-laws in Norway and on his way back, jetted into London.
One of Wamalwa’s sons, Jabali, lived in Germany.
Dr Mukhisa knew how he could get him and arranged for him to join us immediately.
President Kibaki had very strong affection for his Vice President.
He considered sending his official plane. However, the logistics of the fact that it was a military plane (requiring special clearance over other countries’ airspace) put paid to our plans.
We contacted Kenya Airways. The national carrier agreed to our plans and took it as something of a patriotic duty to transport the VP’s remains to Kenya.
After settling on this, we had to see to the welfare of the widow who had accompanied the VP along with their five-year old daughter.
We comforted her and assured her of both our personal and the government’s full support as the President had promised by phone.
We (the Ministers) accompanied Yvonne to get the casket, clothes and everything needed for transporting the body.
When we arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, there was an overwhelming atmosphere of sadness.
There was a huge crowd, led by the President. It was like a national holiday.
President Kibaki announced there would be a state funeral for Wamalwa, the second in Kenya since Independence after that of the founding President, Jomo Kenyatta.
The body lay in state at Parliament buildings for public viewing as the whole country went into mourning.
I was touched by this show of compassion and grief. Kenyans had come to love VP Kijana Wamalwa intensely.
The funeral was at Wamalwa’s farm in Kitale. It was a sombre mood. It was also President Kibaki’s personal grief.
In all the years I had known Mwai Kibaki, I had never seen him show emotion.
But on that day, tears for Michael Kijana Wamalwa trickled freely down the President’s face.
After the funeral, the President ensured that Wamalwa’s family was well taken care of.
No sooner had Kijana Wamalwa’s remains been interred than the big question was voiced: who would replace Michael Kijana Wamalwa as the Vice President of the Republic of Kenya?
The Ford-Kenya contingent took it for granted that one of them would be appointed.
As it always happens in such cases, lobbying went into high gear. Besides Ford-Kenya members, there were two or so young and well-placed Ministers outside Ford-Kenya who also had expectations.
One day, I met John Michuki at a function in the city. By that time, he was very close to the President.
The conversation naturally turned to the vacant position of VP.
Cryptically, he said to me that the office of VP should be held by an old and mature man who would not stress the President or destabilise the government because of high ambition.
He did not elaborate. He did not give me any hint about what was cooking.
Two days later, I was going about my business at my office at Jogoo House when a call came from State House.
The President wanted to see me immediately. When I reached State House, Musikari Kombo was at the waiting room, and we engaged in small talk.
Former VP Moody Awori gives a speech at a past forum. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
After a few minutes, my great friend and State House Controller, Matere Keriri, requested me to accompany him to the President’s office.
The President greeted me in his usual genial manner and we sat down.
He spoke about his late deputy, adding that since we were through with the mourning, government business had to continue.
Without further ado, he said that he had decided I should replace his late deputy to continue with the good work Kijana Wamalwa had been doing.
This was a big surprise for me! I thanked him and he rose from his seat and we hugged each other.
I was going to become the ninth Vice President of the Republic of Kenya! It was 25 September, 2003.
A bell suddenly rang in my mind. Kijana Wamalwa had been a popular and powerful Vice President but without a ministerial portfolio.
Did this mean I would be without a ministerial position?
In the previous eight months, I had thoroughly enjoyed working with all the departments under the Ministry of Home Affairs, particularly the Prisons Department.
I asked the President if I could keep my ministerial portfolio. He readily agreed.
I thanked him again and walked into Matere Keriri’s office.
He congratulated me and something compelled me to inform him that although the late Kijana Wamalwa had no portfolio, the President said I would continue serving as the Minister for Home Affairs. He seemed surprised.
KOMBO AS MINISTER
Later, there was a rumour that the position of Minister for Home Affairs was going to be given to someone else.
Kombo entered the President’s office after I left and he was offered a ministerial position.
The President was yet to make a formal announcement about our appointments, so we were asked not to tell anyone about it but to return to State House at 2.30 pm the same day.
Back in the office, I kept the news to myself. Not even my secretary knew that I was the Vice President.
But such a high-level appointment induces exuberance even in the least emotional people and I could not concentrate on my work!
I felt a desperate need to tell someone about it. So I suspended all official business for the day and went home.
I just lounged there until after lunch and did not tell even my wife. I kept my word to the last moment!
I was taken aback when I found Musikari Kombo already at State House with his wife and a few relatives in tow.
I had understood that I was to tell nobody till the President’s announcement so I made my appearance alone!
After the brief swearing-in ceremony, the President had a few words of advice and bade us farewell.
I was dying to call my wife with the news. Before stepping out of State House, I got the chance to call her.
She had already heard the news and was very agitated as there were many security officers in the compound.
She wanted to know when I would be home.
I told her that I would see her later and went out of State House, ready for my new office in town.
If the day had been dramatic for me so far, what I found at the entrance of State House as I got out surprised me even more.
Everything seemed to be happening at a breakneck speed. My modest official Pajero car had disappeared.
In its place was a convoy of new, big Mercedes Benz cars and a Land Rover with new bodyguards and an aide.
The Comptroller of State House introduced me to the new team.
It is surprising how fast news travels. By the time I reached my office at Jogoo House, the street leading to it was lined with hordes of people to congratulate me.
Mysteriously, traditional dancers from diverse Kenyan ethnic groups appeared and for about 20 minutes, I had to join in obligatory dancing after which I addressed the crowd and thanked them for their well wishes before they would let me get into my office.
The media was waiting for me in the boardroom. That is when I discovered I had a full-fledged press unit with a director of communications, cameramen and others.
When I first joined the government in 1983, I neither had a government vehicle nor a government driver.
I used my own and continued to do so for 20 years.
Throughout that period, I never had security at my rural and town homes or even a bodyguard. I enjoyed my privacy.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta greets former Vice President Moody Awori during the official opening of the G-20 Conference at Brookhouse School, Nairobi, on March 30, 2017. PHOTO | PSCU
It was only when I was appointed Minister for Home Affairs that I was allocated a car, a driver and a bodyguard.
As VP, I was overwhelmed by the number of people around me. I left for home in a convoy of several cars.
It is only when I arrived home that I realised how truly my family’s life had changed.
It seemed that GSU officers were everywhere.
A chief inspector of police was in charge of my security detail and explained to me the procedures.
My former driver, Bernard and bodyguard, Edward were nowhere to be seen.
The changes were overwhelming as they came without warning.
The next day, Ambassador Francis Muthaura, the Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of Civil Service, called on me with further briefing on my responsibilities in my new capacity with all the trappings that come with the office such as the use of state helicopters and airplane on official duties whenever I needed them.
According to the media, both print and electronic, the greater part of the country received my appointment well.
Naturally, my village and constituency of Funyula and Busia District went wild; people carried twigs and danced with jubilation in the streets.
The same happened in Kakamega and Vihiga. Not so in Bungoma, where people received the news with gloom and protest.
They felt the seat belonged to one of their sons. Furthermore, in the Rainbow Coalition, the late Kijana Wamalwa was from Ford-Kenya while I came from the LDP wing. Ford-Kenya, therefore, felt robbed.
A small section of MPs from Ukambani had earlier called a press conference calling for the position of VP to go to Kalonzo Musyoka.
It was an interesting situation. First of all, I was at one time Kalonzo’s Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Education where we got along very well.
We were close enough to have a relationship of almost father and son.
We shared a mutual friend: David Musila. Secondly, Kalonzo’s ambition was the presidency hence he showed no resentment towards me. Rather, our friendship flourished.
SUITABLE FOR POSITION
Central Province is the place I got 100 per cent support.
They were quite open about it and said, “Kibaki does not need a younger person who will pressure him to quit prematurely by resorting to all sorts of tricks to succeed him.
“Uncle Moody is an old man who has not shown any ambition of being President.
“We saw his good work as chairman of the NARC Summit. He will look after our man. He is the right one”.
Indeed, I got all the cooperation I needed throughout my tenure except for a few minor irritations here and there from a tiny clique of politicians and civil servants.
The position gave me great opportunities to travel all over the world in my capacity as Minister for Home Affairs, dealing with my ministerial matters, and as a representative of the President who was unwell in the first two years.
Early 2004, I went to Addis Ababa to represent the President at an African Union (AU) Summit meeting accompanied by three ministers – Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, Raphael Tuju and Ali Mwakwere.
That is when I saw AU at work. I was not impressed.
While the administrative wing was competent, the political wing left a lot to be desired.
We were received well and given the programme and papers accompanying it.
The programme showed we would assemble the next morning at 9 am to start with a plenary session, followed by various committees and so on.
Nyong’o and I were in the Plenary Hall at 9 am with our whole delegation.
A few other delegates sauntered in at about 9.15 am. By 10 am, not a single Head of State was in the Plenary Hall.
By 10.30 am, a number of them were seen in the lounge talking, laughing and catching up.
At 11 am or thereabouts, they were seated down in the Plenary Hall, two hours late.
Proceedings started with long speeches and went on till about 1.30 pm when we broke off for lunch and that was it.
Next in the programme were committees. This was where ministers and their technical staff did real work.
In the evening, we attended a big cocktail party. Heads of State and heads of delegations paraded themselves in expensive attire; both flowing African robes and Saville Row suits.
The first ladies and their ladies-in-waiting were in the latest French designer fashions, the aroma of cigar and champagne in the air.
Oh, I had attended numerous cocktail parties all over the world in business and even social circles but, somehow, this flamboyance did not sit well with me.
One would be forgiven to say that there were no Africans out there going to bed on empty stomachs, or people dying because there is no medicine in their hospitals and that not more than 30 per cent of the continent’s population was without employment.
I said to myself, “So, this is the Big Man’s club?” In all honesty and frankly, it added no value to the Big Men’s subjects back home.
At the end of the three days of the Summit, the big jets flew the ‘Big Men’ away, some via Europe for the ladies’ shopping.
This experience was but the first of many that I witnessed while representing the President in Addis Ababa and other cities on our continent.
The sheer extravagance by a select few was an indictment on my generation.
I felt personal guilt that I did not have the courage to have been outspoken against it.
After all, I had been a taxpayer for over half a century and the money being squandered was taxpayers’ money.
As long as we, the “elite”, continue to use our people as stepping stones to power and wealth, and waste taxpayers’ money on personal aggrandisement, comfort and prestige, we will remain undeveloped for generations to come.
It is now upon the younger generation who are picking up the mantle, to have the wisdom and courage to change and do away with the “Big Man” syndrome and transform themselves into servant leaders who should put the welfare of our suffering subjects at heart.
Two months later, I was a guest of Libyan President Col Muammar Gaddafi, who received me in Tripoli in his tent, lavishly-furnished with cushions and expensive carpets.
I later visited Gaddafi’s home in Tikri and the opulence was out of this world.
Gaddafi was obsessed with the idea of a continental army and transforming the African Union into a type of United States with him as the President.
He wanted me to convey this to our President and said he already had contacts in Uganda through one of the kingdoms.
He was looking forward to a closer relationship with Kenya.
His wife got along so well with my wife that she offered her the first lady’s special jet to take us to Tripoli so that we did not have to use a commercial flight.
Though Gaddafi ran the country like a personal possession, he spent billions of shillings on infrastructure – roads, water, electricity, health, housing and a proper transport system.
However, he had a very poor human rights record. His people had no say in the running of the country.
Another unique country worth mentioning in my story is Cuba.
When I visited Cuba, though it was known that I was a Vice President, President Raul Castro came himself to meet me at the airport.
I had the privilege of inspecting a guard of honour.
Although using an interpreter, he was very attentive and asked many questions about East Africa and Kenya. I was very impressed.
While in Cuba, we made visits to health centres, training schools and other institutions of learning.
We were lucky to find Mwandawiro Mghanga in Havana. He seemed well-connected there.
He took time to introduce us to many African students who were on scholarship.
Their scholarship was such that it did not allow for luxury; strictly the necessities.
There was no wastage and no loitering. With the American embargo still on, they lived very simply.
Their vehicles were mostly American cars (model 1950) but sparkling clean.
Cuba has the highest per capita on doctors with arguably one of the best health care systems in the world.
They have stuck to a spartan lifestyle and are highly patriotic. It was a refreshing break from the Big Man’s syndrome!
Being Vice President enabled me to meet some of the most successful world leaders.
The President asked me to receive an investor who was coming to Nairobi.
The guest was arriving at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 2.00 am.
I was at the airport and duly met the Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud.
He was genuinely surprised that a Vice President was waiting for his arrival at such an ungodly hour.
We hit it off so well; I spent the next three days with him at various meetings with princes of industry and the President.
The visit resulted in his acquiring controlling shares in Fairmont Hotels (Norfolk) and its lodges.
He was interested in the development of Kenya as a whole and we talked at great length.
He took keen interest in the lives of those living in such arid areas as North Eastern and parts of Ukambani.
At the end of his visit, he pledged to send me USD 1 million to use in improving education, health and water facilities in the arid and semi arid areas.
To protect myself, I requested the Prince through Ambassador Yusuf Nzibo, our man in Saudi Arabia, for the funds to be sent through the Ministry of Home Affairs, specifically for my administration of the funds. This was duly done.
Over a period of about a year, I used the funds to build schools in Garissa, Mandera, Wajir, Kieni, Kinango at the Coast, some parts of Nyanza, Mwingi, Turkana and Samburu.
We also drilled boreholes in Mwingi. It was a great honour to be entrusted with that kind of money, which was used properly and every cent accounted for.
A year later, the Prince returned. We flew together to Garisa, Wajir and Mandera to inspect some of the projects.
The Prince with his wife and some members of his royal entourage were delighted to see children in new schools with shiny faces.
We partook of some of the lunch the children were having. The Saudi Ambassador inspected the rest. Every penny was accounted for.
The Tiger Snarls: A Country Burns
For the whole of 2007, the looming General Election took centre stage.
Whatever statements were made in public meetings, funerals or Parliament, leaders were positioning themselves.
In developed countries, when elections are called, the country’s economy is one of the most important and winning considerations.
After all, in America years back, Monica Lewinsky and the subsequent call for impeachment would have cost Bill Clinton the presidency.
However, because he had guided the economy to great heights, Clinton won his second term with a landslide.
Most American voters did not care about the Lewinsky affair.
Clinton went on to be one of the best American presidents in the recent times.
In spite of the divisive 2005 referendum, and incessant squabbles and continuous politicking, the Kenyan economy grew at 7 per cent.
Kenyans were enjoying the kind of freedom, peace and stability they had not experienced for more than three decades.
Kibaki was good for the country and I convinced myself that Kibaki’s party, PNU, would sweep the polls in spite of the fact that the Orange Democratic Movement had walloped us in the 2005 referendum.
Their strong performance had emboldened them to turn ODM into a strong political party and they embarked on the campaigns soon after the referendum in 2005.
However, by 2007, cracks were beginning to appear in their armour.
There were many contenders for the presidential candidacy in the ODM camp – Raila, Kalonzo, Ruto, Mudavadi and Balala.
Kalonzo constantly felt Raila was secretly backstabbing him.
The proverbial last straw was at a public rally in Mombasa where Kalonzo was booed and heckled as he stood to address the crowd.
His words were lost in the noise, forcing him to cut short his address.
It so happened that one of his allies, lawyer Dan Maanzo, had registered ODM-Kenya under which all ODM luminaries were politicking.
Kalonzo broke away and went with the party certificate, leaving Raila and others without a party!
They were forced to register their own ODM.
Once again, I was caught up in controversy when I was asked by the media on the sidelines of a public rally whether the government would register ODM.
The government position at the time, as I understood it, was not to register it and so I said to the press, “No, Raila will have to look for another name”.
Three days later, ODM was registered and I had to eat a humble pie.
That is the way governments work in our continent: the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.
The split in the opposition ranks gave us in PNU a lot of confidence.
However, throughout 2007, Raila intensified his campaigns.
The tribal bandwagon, which manifested itself in the 2005 referendum, reared its ugly head with even more force.
Kibaki, a Kikuyu, was seeking re-election. Young Uhuru Kenyatta, also a Kikuyu and a very credible rival in his own right was not vying but actually supporting Kibaki, his kinsman.
Suddenly, the battle lines were defined. The Kikuyu hegemony had to be fought by combined forces of “others” that included Nyanza, Western, Rift Valley and Coast.
ODM ironed out their differences and settled on Raila as their flag-bearer with Mudavadi as his running mate.
I was Kibaki’s principal assistant and had worked very closely with him for close to five years; I also believed in him
I was running for one last and final term as MP.
In spite of many entreaties by leaders from Western and my old comrades in LDP to join them, I decided to stand by Kibaki.
As a result, I was deemed a traitor even though nobody said it out loud.
Just as Raila and his team formed a formidable campaign machine and kitty, so did we in PNU.
Big-moneyed senior citizens from Central Province led by George Muhoho were in charge of bringing in money from all sources and they did.
They brought in a lot of money. I was in charge of giving out money to all PNU candidates, starting with incumbent MPs. The money had to be delivered to me first.
Distributing money was the most difficult job during the campaigns.
We agreed on a formula of a basic minimum sum for every candidate, followed by the number of voters and size of the constituency, and, finally, the distance from the constituency to Nairobi.
Like all best laid plans, something small sends them awry.
In our case, it was the question of getting the money from those who held the purse strings. It was slow and erratic.
Many candidates wasted a lot of time in Nairobi, waiting to be financed instead of being in their constituencies campaigning.
Many times, I wondered whether those charged with getting the money to me and, consequently, to the candidates, were deliberately sabotaging Kibaki, their presidential candidate.
Not all the money contributed to the kitty reached its intended destination though.
It was rumoured that some bureaucrats became millionaires with the money collected but not disbursed.
I was tied up in Nairobi with the responsibility of getting money to the candidates, and attending national rallies for the presidency.
There was bad political blood in the air during the campaigns. The political contest had been reduced to a zero-sum game.
Many politicians made extremely dangerous statements in public. Most parts of Western Province embraced ODM.
The political message was that it is “us against them”. My constituents were in a dilemma.
I had a long bond with them. I was also the Vice President. They wanted me but “me in ODM”.
MOODY AN ENEMY
They told me that I was representing the Kikuyu who wanted everything for themselves.
I, nevertheless, tried to convince them that all they needed was development irrespective of who was President and that I had demonstrated and proved this fact for 25 years.
I believe I did persuade them. However, I became a natural target.
ODM set aside campaign resources in the form of money and manpower in my constituency to ensure that I was not re-elected.
The party was not interested in just winning the Funyula seat, it wanted to make a point by ousting the Vice President!
The rallying cry was that the Vice President must go at all costs as he supported the “enemy”.
I constantly got alarming reports that ODM was planning violence in the constituency on a large scale.
In all previous campaigns since my debut in elective politics in 1983, I had always been the chairman of my campaign committee.
But on this occasion, I could not do so as I spent a lot of time on the presidential campaigns to help in the re-election of Kibaki.
My young brother took charge of the campaigns, assisted by long-standing local leaders.
While in the past I did not spend much money in my campaigns, money came to play the all-important role for the first time in our political history.
I had never witnessed the use of such large sums of money before.
My constituency was the focal point for the ODM campaigns in Western Province.
This seemed to be the microcosm of all their political desires.
My constituency borders Nyanza, the ODM stronghold. In the 2007 General Election, I used the same method I had used in the previous five successful elections.
I concentrated on development and the economy.
Besides the PNU manifesto covering the whole country, I had one made for Funyula and synchronised it with the PNU one, spelling out ideas I wanted to implement in the next five years.
My ODM opponents stuck to us-versus-them contest. It was a sad and dangerous game.
On the national level, the mandarins who mapped out the presidential campaigns to cover Western Kenya left out Luo Nyanza.
The reasoning was that Nyanza was the home area of the ODM presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, and that the people of the area had always been fanatical supporters of the Odinga family.
Hence, no point in wasting resources that could better be used elsewhere.
Even Cabinet Ministers in PNU who came from Nyanza felt the same. I refused to accept this idea.
I insisted on a programme to cover Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori and Kisumu.
I asked Raphael Tuju, a very close friend of mine, to join me on my trip to Siaya.
He told me it was a waste of time and that I was risking my life unnecessarily. However, I did not give up.
I remembered that until 1990, everyone belonged to Kanu. I reasoned that I would try to reactivate some of the old Kanu networks in Luo Nyanza since not everyone had followed Jaramogi Oginga Odinga even in his heyday.
One of those I contacted was former Cabinet Minister, William Odongo Omamo, who organised a successful rally in Bondo, where a large crowd received me politely and without any hostility.
Aluoch Kanindo also organised a well-attended rally near Awendo Sugar, where I addressed an enthusiastic crowd.
I went to Nyatike with the same results. Interestingly, PNU later managed to get five councillors elected to the local council in Nyatike.
Sadly, when violence and chaos descended on the country immediately after the elections, the five PNU councillors in Nyatike bore the brunt.
Their homes were burnt, forcing them to escape into Tanzania to save their lives.
In spite of the fear of intimidation, I campaigned in the whole of Luo Nyanza without once being threatened or assaulted.
As a result, Kibaki managed to get 8 per cent of the votes. In elections, every vote counts.
The Nyatike councillors eventually returned home and have since lived in peace.
Those who torched their homes were goons sent from elsewhere to wreck vengeance on councillors for supporting the “enemy”.
In my home region of Busia, I covered all the five constituencies – Funyula, Butula, Nambale, Amagoro and Budalang’i – campaigning for President Kibaki.
Unfortunately for me, the majority of the people of Busia were ODM supporters.
They had already been fed with the propaganda that PNU was a Kikuyu affair and many of them had believed it.
They were told that Kikuyus had stolen Kenya’s wealth and that when ODM gained power, things would be better.
This reckless and dangerous talk was readily gobbled up by the gullible poor rural folk.
Unfortunately for me, I could not refute allegations of some senior appointments in Kenya’s strategic areas of finance, trade, security, transport and communications, which seemed to favour Mount Kenya communities.
That fact was, however, overhyped. Indeed, this is an area that will continue to create bad blood in the future unless it is addressed honestly and fairly.