END OF AN ERA

Kajembe dies two weeks after his first wife's demise

The former Changamwe MP was a household name in the local political scene

In Summary

• Kajembe will be remembered by many young men in the constituency for being there for them at their hour of need.

• His friends in the corridors of power included former Presidents Jomo Kenyatta, Mwai Kibaki, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Suleiman Shahbal, Beatrice Gambo and Ramadhan Kajembe at the latter's favourite restaurant in Mombasa..
END OF THE ROAD: Suleiman Shahbal, Beatrice Gambo and Ramadhan Kajembe at the latter's favourite restaurant in Mombasa..
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

 

 

Today is another sad day for residents of Mombasa's Changamwe constituency following the death of Ramadhan Kajembe two weeks after he buried his first wife Aziza.

Four months earlier, the grim reaper had robbed the former Changamwe MP of his second wife Zahari.

Three deaths in a family in a matter of four months are big blows in any  circumstance.

Kajembe will for a long time be remembered by many young men in the constituency for being there for them at their hour of need.

Several owe their marriages to him. Said Seif, for instance, married his wife, Shamsa, courtesy of Kajembe.

Recalls the now 38-year-old man: “I was desperate and was being pushed to marry. But I had no money. I approached Mheshimiwa one day at his house with this unusual request - I needed assistance to get married.”

Kajembe asked him to see him later. “When I went to his house at around 7pm that day, I thought he would chase me away. Surprisingly, he welcomed me with enthusiasm and announced to all the people present that I wanted to marry.”

Said was embarrassed until Kajembe announced: "The young man has given me a brilliant idea."

That idea was to use the Constituency Development Fund to pay dowry for the youth, and as such, encourage them to get married.

“Many of the youth come to me to help them pay dowry. I have been doing that but now we have to make it official. We can use the CDF to do that,” Kajembe said in 2011.

This endeared him to the youth and they started inundating his office with "dowry applications".

He paid dowry for more than 80 youth in the larger Changamwe.

Kajembe, who was born on May 3, 1944,  was a household name.

Indeed, he bestrode the local political landscape for over 30 years, serving as the Mikindani councillor for 15 years and as the Changamwe MP for another 15 years before Jomvu was carved from it.

He started his political career as a Kanu youth winger. During his walk in the corridors of power, Kajembe become friends with former Presidents Jomo Kenyatta, Mwai Kibaki and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. He was also a friend of President Uhuru Kenyatta, among other political heavyweights.

But he remained a man of the people, for who he always had time, smiling and joking with them.

He hoped that his son Seif Kajembe would succeed him in politics. This never came to be, for Seif died on November 14, 2017, and with him part of Kajembe’s soul.

Seif had unsuccessfully vied for the Jomvu MP's seat against his brother-in-law and incumbent Badi Twalib.

Aziza was Kajembe's political and social anchor although behind the scenes.

Her death on July 24 was a major blow to him. He never seemed to have accepted that she was gone.

Twalib described his father-in-law as his political mentor and source of joy to thousands of Mombasa residents.

“He was not only a brilliant politician but also the best father anyone can have. He raised my beautiful wife well,” Twalib said on Friday.

Mombasa Woman Representative Asha Hussein described Kajembe as a father figure and a veteran politician who mentored many leaders.

Businessman and politician Suleiman Shahbal said he has lost a political teacher.

“I met Mzee a few days ago in his favourite restaurant in Mombasa and we had a long discussion about Mombasa, its current situation and his views on what we all had to do about it. I didnt know it would be our last meeting. I had promised him that we would meet more often,” Shahbal said.

He added: “He was a mentor, a friend, an adviser and a father to me. I will miss him. I am saddened beyond belief that I cannot attend his funeral because of Covid-19.”

 

- mwaniki fm