It is 2016 the commemoration of our country’s greatest men and women ,Mashujaa,those who stood tall against colonisation and colonisers. Those who held on to their proverbial titanium balls, all through the torture and even imprisonment. This is unofficially the greatest honor our nation has mastered for our patriotic nationals who have contributed to our nationhood. Though this honour has had many a people across our history bequeathed, specifically those who rebelled and fought since the days of Koitalel Arap Samoei to the Kapenguria seven, the latter group has had most benefits stretching to this year.
If you went through the 844 system back when it still had a healthy spirit of defiance and overwhelming knowledge,imposing these and more onto innocent brains, you would know the six as the back of your hand: Jomo Kenyatta, Kung’u Karumba, Bildad Kaggia, Paul Ngei (two more for your research)
Fast forward to 2016, Uhuru Kenyatta is President of Kenya, son to our founding father Jomo Kenyatta, (one of the Kapenguria inmate) he, in his excellence takes the festivities to Machakos for the first time since independence. What happens after the commemoration steals the heart of our article today, the simple act that defined the whole occasion. He walked into the town and unveiled a statue in honour of yet another Kapenguria inmate/survivor. Noteworthy the previous week was marked by his impromptu crashing of some corruption talk between the stakeholders charged with fighting it, Department of Public Prosecution, Police boss (IG) Justice department represented ,press and the likes. The president walks in takes the floor and microphone from the then MC Jeff Koinange. He announces his frustration with the institutions that are to fight corruption, their lack of action and pointing fingers. He stood there picking out individuals’ short comings, the failure of Justice to pass judgement, DPP’s failure to prosecute, the laxity of the police to investigate, this and many more.
In a manner missed, admired and craved after by many loyal Kenyans, our President was seen to call out the imperfections clogging our government.
“Well done Mr. President! Yes! Put them to task! ” I would imagine Kenyans say.
“or do you want me to line them up in Uhuru Park in front of a firing squad??” the President’s blunt question was taken with mixed feelings, not knowing what it meant; was he overwhelmed? Defeated? Furious? Vengeful? Conducting a PR gimmick? Whatever it was, heads turned and got alarmed.
Come twentieth October, mashujaa day, he read the long list of freedom fighters,conveniently leaving out The Odingas & Mboya(considered
Western Kenya heros) and evaded the too common political and corruption talk.
Unknown to the most of us, is that Paul Ngei was to be commemorated and immortalized. Complete with a statue in Machakos, similar to the one of Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi along Kimathi street. And why not, it was Mashujaa day and he was after all, one of the famous Kapenguria inmates. It should be expected that in such an occasion, a man of good repute and unquestionable character should be canonized in one of our towns, immortalized for all to see and aim to be, to inspire Kenyans to be more patriotic and of good character just like them.
As the saying goes ‘the devil is in the details’ and in this particular case the devil handed us a good one, we learnt a wholly different picture of the celebrated man.
Paul Ngei was NOT a national hero, he was NOT a man of good character, he was NEVER above reproach, he is definitely NOT of good character, especially character that is to be emulated. He officiated impunity and corruption with the finess that so many politicians have tried and failed to match up to, setting the bar on atrocities so high that his like minded successors could only but scratch the surface on his record.
This man opened the door to blatant corruption and wanton theft through government ministries and ones opened it never closed. The man was one of many firsts, he was subject to the first ever commission of inquiry into theft of public monies from under his ministry of agriculture. You see he was the minister for Agriculture, and chair of today’s equivalent NCPB, then called Maize Marketing Board. At a time where Kenya’s cereal produce was on the increase we ended up importing maize because the ministry had exported part of the national reserves in mysterious circumstances.
For a man who ones told Bildad Kaggia, yet another of the Kapenguria six who decided not to steal himself thousands of acres (probably his bunkmate) to walk into Del Monte farm and take as much land as he wished, if anyone would ask he was to send them to parlé with Ngei at ministry of lands. Bildad Kaggia, ever righteous refused and resigned into his home in East lands area, leading a humble life to his death. Ngei went on in his ways, albeit unstopped, creating a maize cartel across Eastern province that can only be compared to the current NYS saga. He even at ones drove off with a brand new Mercedes Benz from DT Dobie on a road test and never returned it to date.
He took lots of loans from commercial banks and never paid them back because he simply could and he was after all in the government . An interesting tale of when Mbiu Koinange gave the man a sum of 2,500(consider this like today’s 20million) to arrange purchase and delivery of about 600 bags of grains to his poultry farm. A week later Mr. Koinange called the Maize board and asked for his consignment, they then confirmed that indeed money did change hands, only that it wasn’t deposited into the accounts. Koinange got his consignment, Paul Ngei in his defiant fashion never paid. Unfortunately for him Karma caught up with him, soon and swiftly, most of his property was repossessed by debt collectors as he suffered a serious case of Diabetes that saw his legs amputated.
This are just a few of what Kenya suffered through under his reign. Now take that picture compare and contrast it to the one of Bildad Kaggia and imagine a statue being sanctioned to his honour, immortalizing the man. Bildad Kaggia not enjoying the honor and Kenyans never learning
‘Feed integrity, starve impunity’ so the adage goes. In this aspect Mr. Kenyatta, you failed your country. A man that was implicated in that level of theft should be commemorated only in the annals of justice as an unshakable precedence against those who device ways to rob off the people. But no! Never in Kenya! When Uhuru did this it sent shock waves to those who were enlightened of the past and of his many atrocities. That a man who had robbed too much from his people, who had debt collectors clean him out leaving him begging at parliament gates, would eventually receive a statue in his honour. If in our country we purport to fight corruption we turn round too fast to endorse it and even award the biggest perpetrators of it.
In future a young child in Machakos will look up at the statue and ask his/her father the dreaded question “who is that? ”
He will swallow hard and quip “Paul Ngei” knowing full well the sequence of questions that are to follow
“who was he? ”
“Why does he have a statue? ”
Where are we heading to? What will our children learn about their gallant nation? Did someone in State House forget to tell His Excellency of Ngei’s past? After all he was the bully to Jomo Kenyatta while in Kapenguria, go figure, and had a troublesome relation with mzee.