Inside story of Kalonzo’s long stay in German hospital
Early morning on Wednesday, as Kenyans writhed in their beds after a daylong Boxing Day feasts, a drained family checked in at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to a low-key reception.
Wrapped in heavy clads for the searing cold, NASA co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka’s family sighed in relief as aides scurried after their luggage — excited to be back home after a long period in freezing European weather.
It was him, his wife Pauline, son Klein and sister-in-law Jane Muasya. The patriarch glimpsed into the Nairobi skyline and looked down on his feet, seemingly in solemn quiet prayer of gratitude.
Through miraculous acts of the benevolent one, and through intercessions of family, friends and Kenyans, he had finally managed to bring back his ailing wife from a foreign hospital.
He cut the image of an indebted man as he held on to his beloved wife Pauline. The day before, the world had celebrated the feast of St Stephen after whom he is named, a celebrated faith warrior who was stoned to death.
“He was obviously very happy to be back after a long and difficult period for both his family and the country. Although he missed out on key events that shaped the country in that period, he always kept tabs on everything that was happening,” a close family friend toldSunday Standard.
But that is one side of the tale. For a top politician of Kalonzo’s calibre to be grounded thousands of miles away when the political pot is bubbling hot at home is quite a feat and a testimony to something else bigger. Many have settled on unwavering commitment to the institution of the family for the answer.
He had left the country on October 11, a day after he and his NASA co-principal Raila Odinga pulled out of the repeat presidential election held on October 26.
Before that and including the last few months before the August 8 General Election, Kalonzo’s commitment to both political aspiration and family affairs was espoused in clear terms to those around him.
With his wife admitted to Nairobi Hospital for the better part of the period, Kalonzo shuttled from political rallies from every corner of the country to her hospital bed. At every final rally he addressed, a chopper was always on stand-by to fly him back to Nairobi to his wife.
“This is a man we would sit in his house as late as 10 o’clock until midnight, and I am waiting for him to make sure he puts our sister Pauline to bed first, and then we go to the sitting room to discuss politics,” former Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim said in Kitui on Thursday.
In Germany, Musyoka kept it low and hid all his cards from prying eyes of politicians and the media. Not even the name of the hospital nor the city he was staying in leaked out. In the earlier days of his arrival in Germany, he addressed rallies via a link in Kisumu and Kisii and then vanished from the public limelight altogether, devoting most of his time to care and company of his wife.
The election came and went with him under. Curbed in remote medieval city of Regensburg at the confluence of three rivers — Danube, Naab and Regen — Kalonzo cheered on his wife day and night as doctors helped her to regain her health.
When his co-principal Moses Wetang’ula and governors Kivutha Kibwana and Josphat Nanok went visiting him in Germany on November 14, they found a man whose spirits had bounced up.
“He kept his marital vows of sticking to his spouse in sickness and health and in the process inspired many of us,” Makueni Woman Representative Rose Museo told mourners at late Francis Nyenze’s home when Musyoka came visiting.
The only other public figure who visited him in Germany was Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior. The Makueni Senator told us that he had to go around Kalonzo to undertake the visit as the Wiper leader had put up a huge “private matter” banner on the whole thing.
“If I had sought his consent in advance, he may have said no. I made arrangements and then alerted his personal assistant. When he learned about it, he called to persuade me to change my mind. In the end, I was happy to spent time with his family,” Junior says.
He says Musyoka was in high spirits all through their meeting. That the meeting was interrupted on more than four occasions as he checked on other things at the hospital. Junior says they discussed the political situation in the country and that he had not lost a beat despite his hectic time.
His coming was as controlled as his stay in Germany.
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“I didn’t tell anyone I was coming over. I didn’t want to mix politics and family. I told (Kitui) Senator (Enoch) Wambua not to tell anyone, other than to say that I would be visiting Nyenze’s family. But when I came, I found it was all over the papers and Kenyans were waiting on me to speak to them,” Kalonzo said at Nyenze’s home.
At Nyenze’s home, he recited his frustrations in Germany wanting to come home to bury his friend while at the same time having to see his wife through last phases of recovery. “I tried everything, I wanted to come with Emirates flight and use a chopper to the funeral but it was not possible. In the end, I had to follow it all from the hospital and I heard everything that was said here,” he said.
He says he learned a lot during his stay in Germany and took time to reflect on the direction the country was heading.
“I think the biggest lesson we can carry from this is that while the nation is important, family is everything. The unit of the family is the sanctuary of all our hopes, fears and triumphs. We must honour it,” Wambua, a confidant of Kalonzo toldSunday Standard.
He urged Kenyans to emulate his party leader and support his political aspirations for he represents “the wholesomeness of the Kenyan dream.” Our efforts to interview Kalonzo on his absence did not yield fruit.