Uhuru's Full Speech At Kibaki's State Funeral Service

  • Thousands of mourners, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, follow proceedings at the National Funeral Service of former President Emilio Mwai Kibaki at Nyayo National Stadium on Friday, April 29, 2022
    Thousands of mourners, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, follow proceedings at the National Funeral Service of former President Emilio Mwai Kibaki at Nyayo National Stadium on Friday, April 29, 2022
    PSCU
  • Ladies and Gentlemen,

    1. We congregate here today, to honour one of the Founding Fathers of our beloved Nation. 

    2. We are here, not only to mourn an incalculable loss but to also celebrate a magnificent life. We celebrate a man of faith, a man of the family, a man of honour, and a man who always put Kenya and Kenyans first.

    3. My fellow citizens, whereas President Kibaki has rested and a remarkable life ended, his service to our country will NOT rest until the last mile of his bold vision for Kenya is completed.

    4. We honour and salute him today for his toil in the run-up to our nation’s independence, and, most notably, as the leading architect of the modern Kenya State. As one of the last standing heroes of our independence struggle, he had a special calling to execute the last chapters of the Vision of our Founding Fathers. And he did this with surgical precision and a total disregard for what the naysayers thought of him.

    5. He finished the last mile of our founding vision as a Nation. But he did not stop there; he helped us lay the foundation upon which future generations shall build.

    6. But to this, I must add one more thing; Hon. Kibaki was, by all means, a modest man and did not believe in loud shouting. When the limelight was shone on him, he tended to coy and hide. And this is because he found virtue and joy by doing the ordinary things that fulfilled his purpose.

    7. He knew that he could not fulfil his purpose in the presence of cheering crowds. He had to do this in the privacy of his space. And his desire to contribute to the transformation of Kenya, in his quiet and secluded space with no one watching, is what makes him a legend – a man of purpose. 
    Fellow Kenyans, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    8. Allow me to celebrate the man laying in state before us using three frames: Kibaki the Man, Kibaki the Leader and Kibaki the Visionary.

    9. I begin with Kibaki the Man. And in celebrating his humanity, I want to pose an age-old question about our existence: What is the true measure of a man?

    10. How do you judge a man after he has served God, his generation and country? Do you measure a man by his financial exploits or by how many lives he touched?

    11. Do you measure a man by the victories he gained or by how he dealt with those he vanquished?

    12. Do you measure a man by how he handles his losses, failings and tragedies or how magnanimous he is when he bags a win?

    13. Do you measure a man by how he treats his peers and equals or how he treats his subordinates?

    14. Do you measure a man by what he started or by what he finished? And do you measure a man by how he handled his finest
    moments or by how he handled his lowest moments?

    15. If you want to know the true measure of a man, watch what he does with power. How he handles his opponents; how he treats his wife and family and what he does with his financial influence.

    16. But fundamentally, and as Martin Luther King Jr taught us: “…The true measure of a man is NOT where he stands in moments of convenience and comfort; but where he stands in times of challenge and difficulties…” In other words, the true measure of a man is how he behaves when misfortunes hit.

    17. And the question before us today is this: Who was Kibaki, the Man? How must we measure him? How do you measure a man who was sworn in as President on a wheel chair? How do you measure a man who suffered ill health during the first year of his Presidency and in his lowest moments he did not give up, but he soldiered on?

    18. And how do you measure a man under whose watch Kenya experienced our darkest moment in 2007! Yet at this moment, the Hon. Kibaki shook the hand of his bitter opponent and invited him to form government with him on a 50:50 basis despite opposition from some of his own supporters.

    19. Kibaki the Man had an incredible gift of tolerance. He had the ability to take in pressure and pain without showing distress. And this is why he was known as a man of few words.

    20. From his 50 years of active politics, he learnt not to rush into judgement and decisions. He learnt to lay in wait until the ‘swollen river had found its course’.

    21. When moments were dark, he chose to be the light; when reason was scarce, he became the voice of reason; and when hope was down, he encouraged us all to exercise the gift of longsuffering.

    22. And if a man is not measured by what he started, but by what he finished, then the record must reflect that the Hon. Mwai Kibaki finished strong.

    23. The end of Kibaki the Man can only be summarized by the words of Apostle Paul when he said this of his own life: “…I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith”.

    24. This too, must be recorded in our Books of History as the finishing line of Hon. Mwai Kibaki. He fought the good fight, finished the race and he, without doubt, kept the faith. Fellow Kenyans, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    25. Turning to Kibaki the Leader.

    26. As we have heard from the story of his life and times, as far back as July 1974, the Hon. Kibaki was named by Time Magazine as one of the 150 men and women who would become new World Leaders.

    27. Six years later in 1977 and 9 years later in 1981, the same magazine named him as one amongst 100 people with remarkable leadership qualities. So the world had noticed his leadership promise.

    28. But his leadership abilities were not only obvious to the Time Magazine and the world at large; they were also noticed by those close to him as well.

    29. His Professor at Makerere University in the 1950s, Prof. Kenneth Ingham, noted that, if the Hon. Kibaki had not joined politics, he was destined to become the first African President of the World Bank.

    30. A similar observation was made by the former World Bank President, Mr Robert McNamara who noted that Mzee Kibaki was one of the greatest economic brains produced by Africa.

    31. And this is not a wonder because President Kibaki was the first African to attain a First Class Honours degree from the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science.

    32. But how did his leadership abilities, celebrated by the world, translate at home? How do we measure Kibaki the Leader during his 50 years of service to our country?

    33. At a very early age, the Hon. Mwai Kibaki knew that the biggest challenge of a leader is ‘leading yourself’. And to lead yourself, you have to be measured, disciplined and unwavering.

    34. He understood that a leader who does not lead himself will be driven by his difficulties, rather than his vision. He will give in to the pressure of the crowds, rather than the chosen path appointed for
    him.

    35. Such a leader will be pushed to make popular choices that please the crowds as opposed to bold choices that are good for the country, but unpopular with the public.

    36. This ability to ‘lead himself’ against the noise and buzz of the crowds, is what brought Mzee Kibaki this far. His ability to ‘lean in’ and deal with his darkest moments, not in public, but in seclusion, is what distinguishes him as a great leader.

    37. And if the true measure of a man is determined by how he stands in moments of challenge and difficulties, President Kibaki
    handled his political misfortunes with unparalleled grace.

    38. In every low moment, he acknowledged the impending danger, but chose to focus on the attendant opportunities. And two
    examples support my observation here.

    39. The first happened in 1988 after the infamous mlolongo election. During this election, Hon. Mwai Kibaki had served as Vice
    President and Minister for Finance for 10 years under President Moi.

    40. When the new government was formed after the election, the Hon. Mwai Kibaki was demoted from his position as Vice President and made Minister for Health.

    41. At the time, popular voices countrywide wanted him to reject this humiliation and resign from government, altogether. But he
    shunned the voices of the crowds and opted for the lonely and unpopular path.

    42. To the shock of the Nation, he embraced his demotion with grace and continued to serve the country in a lesser capacity.

    43. And his superior reasoning was that leadership is NOT a position; it is service. And he was ready to serve the country in any position the people summoned him to. With this reasoning, the demands for his resignation were put to rest.

    44. The second demonstration of his leadership came at the darkest hour in our history as a Nation. This was the post-election violence of 2007.

    45. The Hon. Kibaki admitted that this was the lowest moment in his career as a political leader. But turning in-wards, he converted this political misfortune into a constitutional moment. Let me explain.

    46. You cannot talk about the 2007 crisis without going back to the 2005 constitutional referendum. During this referendum, President Kibaki and his ‘banana team’ suffered a resounding defeat to the ‘orange team’.

    47. But he banked the referendum loss as a ‘dream deferred’. He knew that one day, some day, we will fulfil Kenyan’s clamour for a new constitution.

    48. Then the 2007 crisis presented itself. At first it was devastating, but with time, it gave him the opportunity to engage in a constitutional re-set, executed through bold and unchartered waters.

    49. First, and against the wishes of many, he ceded half of his government to his arch rival. And he invited Prime Minister Raila Odinga to co-create government with him.

    50. Second, he needed to build consensus around his decision. And he did this because he understood that: “…Leaders do not look for consensus; they build consensus…” as Martin Luther King Jr said.

    51. In March 2008, he led to the enactment of minimum constitutional changes to our independence constitution, which established the position of Prime Minister and two Deputies, which I am proud to have served as one.

    52. With this 2008 consensus in place and an inclusive government formed, the crisis of 2007 was resolved and ‘spirited away’. And in June that year, Vision 2030 was launched, setting the stage for better planning and the highest economic growth ever recorded in Kenya.

    53. The other notable achievement, which is also the third re-set to our constitutional order, was the 2010 referendum.

    54. This referendum was meant to retire the Independence Constitution and align our supreme law to the aspirations of the New Republic.

    55. And in August 2010, the ‘dream deferred’ in the 2005 referendum became a reality. Apart from the Vision 2030, the misfortunes of 2007 had gifted our country a new supreme law, The Kenya Constitution, 2010.

    56. If the true measure of a man is how he stands in times of challenge and difficulties, from the 2007 dark moment of our Nation, President Kibaki stood tall and turned misfortune into positive change. These examples affirm that dreams deferred can never wilt away. Fellow Kenyans,

    57. Finally, I will now end with my brief reflections on Kibaki the Visionary. At the age of 29, the Hon. Kibaki was persuaded by Mzee Jaromogi Odinga Oginga to quit a well-paying job as a Lecturer at Makerere University in Uganda; and to take up a job that offered nothing but promise.

    58. If his Professor at Makerere University was right, Hon. Mwai Kibaki had the hope of becoming the first African President of the World Bank – a much safer and a much assured path.

    59. But he rejected this dream in pursuit of a more challenging vision. He took up a job as the Executive Officer of KANU, a little known entity where he would survive on nothing but stipends.

    60. For him to make this decision, he must have been propelled by a vision that loved country more than self. Although identified by the international media as a world leader, he chose NOT to take the trodden path.

    61. Instead he opted to explore the unchartered path of an independent Kenya and leave a trail. And this is what the 29-year old
    Kibaki did.

    62. But to follow such a hazy path, he must have listened to an inner voice. A voice that led him to what the heart sees; not what the eyes see.

    63. A voice that took him to the path of faith. And because of this walk of faith, the Hon. Kibaki must go down on record as a guardian visionary of our new Republic.

    64. Armed with faith and vision, the young Kibaki, alongside colleagues like TJ Mboya, drafted the founding instruments of our
    economy.

    65. Indeed, Sessional Paper number 10 of 1965 on “African Socialism and its Application to Planning in Kenya”, drafted by him and Mboya remains the guiding light of our economic transformation.

    66. When he became President in 2002, he went back to this original blue print and upgraded it to Vision 2030. And using this document, he encouraged us not to be intimidated by bold projects.

    67. That is why my Administration, inspired by this thinking, has accelerated what I call the “Big Push Investments’’, especially in the area of infrastructure.

    68. And if President Kibaki authored Vision 2030, the next administration must take us to a bolder plan. They must give us Vision 2063… a blue print for Kenya at One Hundred Years and beyond. Fellow Kenyans, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    69. The man lying-in-state before us today was a gentleman. A measured man; a man of few words but a man of decisive action. If he was here with us today, he would have instructed us to choose leadership over politics. He would have told us that leadership is about vision; politics is about positions and that Nations are founded on visions.

    70. President Mwai Kibaki epitomized the quote that “life is no brief candle. It is a sort of splendid torch which hold for a moment, and a desire to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

    71. His light will never flicker out because his torch lit countless lives. Therefore, as we mourn his passing, we are reminded that it
    would be a tragedy if we let die what he left alive in our hearts and memories.

    72. On this dark day, Mwai Kibaki’s enduring legacy illuminates our nation and the African continent, placing him as one of the
    greatest African statesmen of his generation.

    73. To President Kibaki’s family - Judy, Jimmy, David and Tony and your families, and the entire extended family; I deeply share in the pain of your loss and pray that you will find comfort in the words of the Psalmist when he said: “…hold on my child, for weeping may endure only for a night, but joy comes in the morning”.

    74. Remember that no night can last forever. The sun will always rise, and with the dawn comes hope and light.

    God Bless You All, God Bless Kenya.

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