Raila, Gachagua clash over Mau Mau heroes and bipartisan talks

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Azimio leader Raila Odinga

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua (left) and Azimio leader Raila Odinga (right) during the burial service for Mau Mau freedom fighter Brigadier John Kiboko at Ngorika Secondary School’s ground in Nyandarua County on Friday, August 25. 

Photo credit: Boniface Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and opposition leader Raila Odinga yesterday differed on the state of Kenya’s freedom fighters.

They were speaking during the burial of Mau Mau freedom fighter Brigadier John Kiboko at his Ngorika home in Ol Kalou, Nyandarua County.

Mr Odinga and Mr Gachagua also traded barbs over the ongoing bipartisan talks to resolve the 2022 General Election crisis.

The first to throw salvos was Mr Odinga, who accused the Kenya Kwanza administration of doing little to address the plight of freedom fighters. “Mau Mau freedom fighters have been completely forgotten. Freedom fighters—like in some countries abroad, in Europe and other places—should earn allowances until they die, because these people selflessly fought for the freedom of this country,” said Mr Odinga.

He accused the Kenya Kwanza administration of neglecting the freedom fighters and only coming to their aid when they are sick or dead. “The government should not wait until our freedom fighters die to foot their burial bills. Their plight should be addressed when they are still alive.”

Last week, the national and Nyandarua governments announced that they had jointly cleared the Sh8.5 million outstanding hospital bill for the deceased Mau Mau war veteran. Brigadier Kiboko died on Saturday last week aged 93.

Kimathi reburial

But the former Prime Minister pointed a finger at the government, claiming it had failed to honour Mr Kiboko's wish to help trace the remains of the late freedom fighter Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi—said to be lying somewhere within the Kamiti Maximum Prison.

“During the recent burial of Mukami Kimathi, the widow of freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi, Brigadier Kiboko had offered to show the government where Field Marshal Dedan Kimanthi was buried. The government should have moved swiftly and made sure his wish was honoured. Instead, they remained unmoved and now he is dead. This is unfortunate,” he noted.

“The government should now move swiftly and trace where Dedan Kimathi was buried so that the body can be exhumed and given a decent burial next to his wife, Mukami. l am ready to also help in the process.”


On the ongoing bipartisan talks between the government and the opposition, Mr Odinga challenged Mr Gachagua to stop dismissing the talks as a waste of time. “Kenya like, any other country, has its problems and the Constitution allows Kenyans to protest to have such problems solved. Hakuna mtu ambaye anaweza kujitokeza na kwenda barabarani kama hakuna shida (No person can come out to protest on the streets if everything is fine). In countries like Senegal, France and others, people protest because they want some problems addressed and it is allowed,” he said.

The former premier also dismissed assertions that Azimio was rooting for a ‘handshake’.

“I am not eying the deputy president position or prime minister. I already became prime minister, so what is this hullabaloo about?” Mr Odinga asked. “Mr Gachagua, there is no problem with people talking. Hata kama hutaki kusikiza mambo yangu, ruhusu mazungumzo (Even if you don't want to hear anything about me, allow the talks to take place. Mr Gachagua and President William Ruto and I should now keep off the talks,” he said.

Mr Gachagua has on several occasions dismissed the ongoing talks between the Kenya Kwanza and Azimio, stating that nothing will come out of the dialogue that was expected to unlock the standoff between the government and the opposition. In his response to Mr Odinga yesterday, Mr Gachagua defended the government, saying the Kenya Kwanza administration was concerned and working to address the plight of freedom fighters.

“We have a solid plan on how to address the plight of freedom fighters, including to ensure their land in the hands of grabbers is returned. We had already planned to embark on the bid to trace the remains of the late Dedan Kimathi, but, unfortunately, Mr Kiboko became sick. The commitment to tracing the remains of Kimathi and giving him a decent burial is still there and in a month's time, we will start the process. I invite my friend, the former prime minister, to join us,” Mr Gachagua said.

‘Sinister motive’

He took a swipe at Mr Odinga, accusing him of attempting to seek a share of the government and to derail development initiated by the Kenya Kwanza administration. “Former Prime Minister, I don't oppose dialogue. It is only that we have a bad history about you. Every time you are defeated in elections, you strategise how to get a share of the government,” Mr Gachagua said. “We fear you may ask for a handshake because of past experience.”

He appealed to Mr Odinga to avoid street protests and “respect the duly elected Kenya Kwanza administration”.