DAVID MUSILA’S BOOK LAUNCH

Penning memoirs useful tradition to inspire youths, nothing exaggerated

In Summary

• Kenyans from all walks of life came together to participate at the launch of David Musila’s Memoir, Seasons of Hope at the National Museum in Nairobi.

• Musila follows a healthy tradition that public figures seem to be setting in Kenya after a long spell since nationalists such as Jomo Kenyatta, Jaramogi Odinga, Tom Mboya and JM Kariuki, who published their autobiographies or collection of speeches soon after Independence

David Musila's memoir during its launch at the National Museums of Kenya on Thursday
David Musila's memoir during its launch at the National Museums of Kenya on Thursday
Image: Caleb Atemi

When these unlucky tales relateSpeak of them as they are

Nothing extenuate.”

-Othello, from Shakespeare’s play “Othello”.

On Thursday evening this week, the auditorium at the National Museum in Nairobi was packed to the brim.

Kenyans from all walks of life came together to participate at the launch of David Musila’s Memoir, Seasons of Hope, beautifully printed by Maneesh Media, and written in a language that easily captures the attention of an avid reader such as Uncle Moody Awori who launched the book.

David Musila follows a healthy tradition that public figures seem to be setting in Kenya after a long spell since nationalists such as Jomo Kenyatta, Jaramogi Odinga, Tom Mboya and JM Kariuki, who published their autobiographies or collection of speeches soon after Independence.

We have witnessed, in the recent past, memoirs from Kenneth Matiba, Raila Odinga, Awori, Njenga Karume, Bishop John Gatu and many others, not forgetting Bishop Henry Okullu’ s controversial A quest for Justice.

All these books record personal experiences at a time that major strides were made in our history through some of the most painful moments future generations will have to remember. Why do I say so? Because there is an old adage that says, “If you do not know where you are coming from, you cannot possibly get lost because most likely you don’t even know where you are going.”

 

DAVID MUSILA’S STRORY

Musila was, for all intents and purposes, a child who grew up in what I choose to call a “functional family.” A family in which both parents had a clear sense of what parenthood meant and what mission they had in bringing up their children.

For that matter, he was well schooled and groomed and crowned all that with an overseas education not typical of most of Kenya’s youth then. He then married Beatrice, his sweetheart, with whom he has brought up an admirable family.

“As a child,” writes Musila, “I was mesmerized by the allure of power that the officers in the Provincial Administration carried with them. The clean, khaki crisp uniform, elegant hat and the sticks that the Chiefs and District Commissioner carried with them...”

No wonder he joined the Provincial Administration, rose from district officer to a provincial commissioner and left to join politics eventually after a distinguished and unblemished career. 

Integrity, loyalty to the system and delivering services to the people was the hallmark of distinction for men of David Musila’s hews. Not surprisingly such public servants built institutions that no doubt outlived their time, only to see such institutions destroyed eventually by the envenomed appetite of primitive accumulation that started among some of Kenyatta’s “president’s men,” continued with Daniel Moi at some geometric progression and blossomed into complete madness as we know it today.

Such biographies help us understand the developments in public service much better. I do remember well that, as a young boy in intermediate school (Standard One to Eight), my ambition was to become a stationmaster. Like Musila, I admired the white and crisp uniforms stationmasters wore, and the power they wielded over trains to give them the “mkwajo” to leave the station after picking up passengers. It was my teacher in Standard Eight, the late Sylvester Ouma Anya, who reminded me that I was material for the Alliance High School and I had to aim at being another Carey Francis and not a stationmaster at nearby Lela railway station.

We do come from far, but that teaches us only one thing: Each one of us has our own“seasons of hope” when the sky could easily be our limit. Or, as some young lady reminds us: “All our dreams are valid.”

Having been involved, right from my college days at Makerere University, Kampala, in the struggle for the Second Liberation, I found myself almost always at loggerheads with men and women in the Provincial Administration.

I, therefore, generally loathed them. But when I finally met Musila and and Yusuf Haji in the National Assembly, I was surprised how we became colleagues so easily. Musila, in particular, was somehow very easy to strike conversations with such that, in 2002, we found ourselves working very closely in bringing the LDP and NAK together during the Narc formation.

 

NARC FORMATION

“We eventually agreed upon a date for launching our Narc manifestos and signing of the MoU at the Hilton Hotel. At this meeting, Mwai Kibaki was officially nominated as the presidential candidate. It was a big ceremony where Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o and I served as joint masters of ceremony and lawyer Ambrose Rachier kept the MoU in safe custody after the signing ceremony,” Musila writes.

There is something Musila and I share: We don’t enjoy the habit of “pulling ranks.” I discovered this by working with him and Uncle Moody. Both were much older than me, with vast experience in public life and, undoubtedly, materially much better off. But they always loved consultation; sober intellectual reasoning with disarming self-restraint. This could make much more cocky men take advantage of them. And I am not surprised when some people took this disarming quality in Musila to push him into “a season of betrayal” so well documented in this memoir.

I would like to say a thing or two about the Narc experience, and how painful it was to see NAK and LDP members drift apart. For some historical reasons, I will leave to be related in my own memoir, I was a member of the NAK coalition when we joined hands with the LDP. I can now reveal that Joab Omino, Raila, Musila and I had been in regular consultations before the union was consummated. Hence I felt very pained when the marriage started to be undermined from within essentially through bad faith from some people on the NAK side. There were those who deliberately wanted NARC not to work so that they could rid themselves of what they called “the LDP brigade.” Had we kept Narc together the history of Kenya would have been very different. But, as the wise men say, “Majuto ni mjukuu!”

Musila will agree with me that the three years that the Narc government ruled this country were years of great strides and achievements. The referendum and the coalition government formed following the 2007-08 post-election violence brought some humility to our erstwhile friends who got mad with power under Narc. We were, therefore, able to appreciate each other better and to support Mwai Kibaki and Raila in getting Kenya to where we are today. That Musila is not at the centre of the action as we struggle to reflect further on our constitutional dispensation today is something I personally regret.

There, in the rolling grasslands of Kitui, as the sun sets and cows gracefully retire into bomas of both the rich and the poor, another season of hope is surely around the corner that young educated persons will only partake to their advantage, if they dream big to change our society for the better and not simply fill their pockets with ill-gotten wealth.

And for us to inspire our youth, let us tell our own tales as they truly were, nothing exaggerated.

I salute David Musila for doing exactly that.