Murang’a leaders have eulogised veteran politician Kenneth Matiba as a resilient multi-party democracy hero who sacrificed his life for the country. Matiba died on Sunday at Karen Hospital at age 85.
Led by Governor Mwangi Wa Iria, the leaders said Matiba played an integral part in ensuring the country attained democracy.
The county boss said Matiba is a legend who joined forces with other opposition leaders to fight the Kanu government and its one-party system of governance.
His legacy, Wa Iria said, cannot be extinguished as his contribution towards the remaking of the nation is immeasurable and the people of Murang’a will always celebrate him as a rare gem. “He dared to dream and actualised the dream at the expense of his material wealth and his health,” he said.
The governor said despite all his tribulations, Matiba never gave up his spirited fight for democracy and constitutionalism.
He said the only way Kenyans can repay Matiba for his struggle is by remaining true to the ideals he stood for. “As we enjoy the fruits of our democratic space, we shall never forget his input and output. Matiba has not left, his legacy lives on,” the governor said.
Wa Iria said Matiba was the embodiment of the true Murang’a spirit of discipline, resilience and entrepreneurship.
Murang’a county has honoured him by naming one of the largest public eye and dental hospitals in the region in Kenol after him.
“He was a national icon and his history is full of feats that we cannot enumerate,” Wa Iria said.
The governor has on numerous occasions visited the elderly politician at his South Coast residence.
Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege said she is saddened by the death of the founding icon of multi-party democracy under the banner “Let The People Decide.”
The MP urged Kenyans to remain as resilient as Matiba was, when he faced challenges, saying he was a mentor and a reputable leader.
Senator Irungu Kang’ata said Matiba came from his village and he was his pacesetter. “Matiba was a statesman who served this country from a young age and his stint in the public service, corporate world and politics left an indelible mark,” Kang’ata said.
The senator said Matiba’s courage and selflessness in facing the Kanu regime gave Kenyans the freedom they enjoy today. “Matiba, you were a beacon of hope for many. I represented the same constituency that you did and I can say you were indeed a pacesetter for me,” he said.
In 2013, Chege and former Senator Kembi Gitura had appealed to the government to provide medical and financial assistance to Matiba, whose health was failing.
Last year, the High Court in Nairobi ordered the state to pay Matiba Sh504 million as compensation for torture. A further Sh471 million was awarded to him for his collapsed businesses and Sh18 million to take care of his hospital bills.
On Sunday, President Uhuru Kenyatta eulogised Matiba as a true patriot. He said Matiba was not only a role model to many but a mentor to him.
“His loss will not be easily forgotten as he fought to make Kenya a better place. His role in the fight for multiparty democracy of forward ever backward never helped transform our country to what it is today. Those who knew him can attest that he was selfless leader,” the President said.