MOURNING LEADER

Late Wakapee's rise from coffee estate manager to Juja MP

Residents mourn leader, say he solved most problems bedevilling the constituency

In Summary
  • Legislator Francis Munyua's moniker was coined by friends because of his habit of saying ‘I will pay’, in drinking joints
  • It is from managing the coffee estates where he amassed his wealth and used to spoil revellers by paying their beer bills
Juja MP Francis Munyua Waititu alias Wakapee at a past function.
Juja MP Francis Munyua Waititu alias Wakapee at a past function.
Image: John Kamau

“I will pay”. That's what Juja MP Francis Munyua Waititu used to say at drinking joints especially at Senate Hotel, every time the waiter brought the bill.

His drinking friends nicknamed him Wakapee. The name stuck. 

Munyua's fame for paying friend's bills spread across the larger Juja before it was split into Ruiru, Juja and Thika Town constituencies in 2010.

Then, Munyua was an estate manager of coffee farms belonging to the Kenyatta family in Juja and Gatundu.

He used to narrate to residents how the Kenyatta family had supported his education and then hired him to manage their coffee estates. 

Wakapee had studied coffee management at Kenya Planters Co-operative Union (KPCU) and Coffee Research Station Finaff Coffee Consultants.

Some of the coffee estates he managed between 1979 and 1996 include Muiri Coffee Estate, Surrey Coffee Farm, Kirathe Mang’u Coffee Estate, Ngunungu Farm, Iganjo Farm and Magumu Nyakinyua Coffee Estate.

It is from managing the coffee estates that he amassed the wealth he used to spoil revellers.

The father of four who was a second time MP threw his hat in the political arena in 2013 when he contested for the Juja seat and won on a TNA ticket.

During the 2017 elections, Munyua successfully defended his seat on a Jubilee Party ticket. He garnered 66,190 votes beating his competitors George Koimburi who got 10,165, Antony Kirori (6,733 votes) and Lukas Mwaura (4,590 votes).

Until his death on February 22, Munyua had been a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Livestock.

The lawmaker has been battling cancer since 2017. Before being diagnosed with the illness, Munyua lost his younger sister Cecilia Wambui to liver cancer in 2016. Her death prompted him to have his ageing mother screened and to his shock, she was diagnosed with stage two brain cancer.

Juja MP Francis Munyua Waititu alias Wakapee.
Juja MP Francis Munyua Waititu alias Wakapee.
Image: JOHN KAMAU

Even with no symptoms, the MP took a biopsy and was diagnosed with stage two cancer, just like his mother. He then went to India  to seek specialised medical care and was there for close to two months

After coming back, Munyua revealed that he met prominent Kenyans and politicians including fellow MPs and senators in India.

He noted that treating and managing the disease was costly and embarked on a sensitisation campaign urging his constituents and Kenyans to go for screening, saying the disease was treatable if detected early.

Munyua then asked the government to establish a kitty to help poor families across the country who have been burdened by the disease. He urged the government to declare cancer a national disaster.

“Millions of Kenyans are suffering. Poor families are struggling to raise money to take their loved ones to India for treatment, but after the money raised is exhausted, they end up spending nights in the streets of India. This has become too much for Kenyans and the government should intervene,” he said.

Even though the lawmaker publicly declared he had been cured of the disease, his condition started deteriorating in 2019, the last time he appeared in public. He has been in and out of hospital till his death on Monday in a Nairobi hospital.

Juja residents on Tuesday eulogised the MP as a peaceful and hard-working man. They said that during his tenure, he brought much development to the constituency.

Speaking at the MP’s home in Juja town, residents said the MP has been in the forefront of fighting land cartels in Juja which have been stealing public land and parcels belonging to poor residents.

“He has been able to solve most of the problems facing us as residents especially issues of land grabbing. His office is already establishing a land registry in Juja town that will fast-track solving of land related matters. He was a true and dedicated leader,” said James Murira, a resident.

In August 2018, the MP led residents in reclaiming a 20-acre prime land along the Thika Superhighway that had been grabbed by a businesswoman.

The residents also noted that the legislator has improved education standards in the constituency including construction of new primary schools like New Toll, Theta and Athi.

Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina and former Ruiru MP Esther Gathogo eulogised Munyua as a humble and dedicated servant leader.

Wainaina said the lawmaker was a fighter having fought the illness through the years.

-Edited by Sarah Kanyara