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December 17, 2018

You sang our worries away: Family eulogises Total Man Biwott

A programme for former powerful minister Nicholas Biwott's memorial service that took place at AIC Milimani in Nairobi, July 18, 2017. /COURTESY
A programme for former powerful minister Nicholas Biwott's memorial service that took place at AIC Milimani in Nairobi, July 18, 2017. /COURTESY

Former powerful minister Nicholas Biwott has been eulogised as a noble, wise man who helped many including people he did not know.

Biwott died in the city last week at age 77. He had three wives - Australia-born Hannie, Kenyan professor Margaret Kamar and Tanzanian Kavista Lessie.

Biwott did not marry the mother of his eldest child, Esther Koimett. He had six children with the other three women.

Hannie remembered her husband as noble and full of wisdom during a requiem mass at AIC Milimani in Nairobi on Tuesday.

"My husband was a friend to everybody...I met a French woman and we became friends in a little while. She told me she was troubled and explained this to my husband," she narrated.

She said Biwott helped the woman and one of her relatives and that he never took advantage of his opponents.

"He was a humble man...Kenya will remember and appreciate him forever...I am thanking God for the privilege of being his wife, a mother and great grandmother...look how proud I am."

Hannie further said Biwott influenced the family with his high standards and educated his own children and those of his brother.

NIcholas Biwott's children Manu, Gloria and Kiara during a requiem mass at AIC Milimani in Nairobi, July 18, 2017. /MONICAH MWANGI

STRONG, COOL-HEADED, NEVER PETTY

Biwott's children said he inspired them and sang their worries away.

Esther said her father was a very fascinating man who was full of wisdom.

"I learnt so much from you...you simplified complex issues and found solutions where none seemed to exist."

Referring to Biwott as 'Maendeleo (progress)', Esther also said her father rose above negativity and pettiness.

"You always maintained objectivity, paid attention to detail and had the ability to stay the course on any issue that mattered," she said.

Biwott was also described as a man who remained "cool-headed" during adversity and whose generosity and visionary leadership were exemplary.

"I will forever remain grateful for your example," Esther said.

Kiara said Biwott encouraged him and let nothing pull him down.

"I was once anxious about the launch of a project...I remember daddy saying 'Kiara, this is your time to shine. Don't let anything or anyone steal your glory'," he said.

"Like magic, he could calm you down regenerate your spirit and confidence...I will miss you, daddy..."

"HE MADE US STRONG"

Rita said her dad told her she was the medicine but noted he was the one who made her strong.

Rhoda said when she was a baby and Biwott a student in Melbourne, he studied with her on his lap.

"And 50 years later (two weeks ago) while he was in hospital, we sat together laughing while watching Jemutai live on You tube."

Gloria said whenever she rang her dad he would answer by singing, setting the mood for conversation.

"...and instantly my face would beam. Whenever he suspected I was troubled, he would start singing 'whatever will be will be'...effortlessly singing my anxiety away."

Manu said: "Dad would walk into the office to find me working on my computer and he'd say "what is your computer telling you today'? My dad never understood how people relied so much on computers."

He added his father was always practical and tagged him along on his trips.

"He wanted me to learn the things he did. I enjoyed how he taught me...he would tell me to listen to people he knew were the best," he said.

"When I wasn't receptive to his ideas or when I thought I knew better he would tell me 'Fuata yangu (follow my advice)', and would explain by saying 'I am only telling you this because I care'."

Maria said it was an honour to have the name of her grandmother.

"Thank you for the lunch dates, the love, the mentorship and most importantly, the time. Thank you for the memories."

Famously known as The Total Man, Biwott served alongside Kenya's first three presidents Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki and with many significant public figures in post-independence Kenya, including Bruce McKenzie and Tom Mboya.

He was also a businessman, politician and philanthropist.

Biwott served as Keiyo South MP until 2007.

Until his death, he was the leader of the National Vision Party.

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