President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday led the nation in paying glowing tribute to Kenya’s third Head of State, the late former President Mwai Kibaki.
President Kenyatta eulogized President Kibaki as one of Kenya’s greatest statesmen, a visionary and a leading architect of the modern Kenya.
“We honour and salute him today for his toil in the run-up to our nation’s independence and, most notably, as amongst the leading architect of the modern Kenya state.
“As one of the last standing heroes of our independence struggle, he had a special calling to execute the last chapters of the vision of our founding fathers. And he did this with surgical precision and a total disregard for what the naysayers thought of him,” President Kenyatta said.
The Head of State spoke at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi during the state funeral service where Catholic Archbishop Philip Anyolo assisted by Archbishop Martin Kivuva conducted the requiem mass in celebration of the life of President Kibaki.
President Kenyatta said the late President Kibaki finished the last mile of the country’s founding vision and went on to lay the foundation upon which future generations shall build.
In this regard, the Head of State pointed out that although President Kibaki has rested, his service to the country will not rest until the last mile of his bold vision for Kenya is completed.
President Kenyatta also described former President Kibaki as a modest man who did not believe in loud shouting but found virtue and joy in doing the ordinary things that fulfilled his purpose.
“He knew that he could not fulfill his purpose in the presence of cheering crowds. He had to do this in the privacy of his space. And his desire to contribute to the transformation of Kenya, in his quiet and secluded space with no one watching, is what makes him a legend –a man of purpose,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta also noted that President Kibaki was a man blessed with an incredible gift of tolerance and had the ability to take in pressure and pain without showing distress.
On leadership, President Kenyatta said President Kibaki was a celebrated leader who possessed the unique abilities to ‘lead himself’ and overcome challenges.
“This ability to ‘lead himself’ against the noise and buzz of the crowds is what brought Mzee Kibaki this far. His ability to ‘lean in’ and deal with his darkest moments, not in public but inseclusion, is what distinguishes him as a great leader,” President Kenyatta said.
In low moments, President Kenyatta said the departed leader acknowledged the impending danger but chose to focus on the attendant opportunities.
He cited President Kibaki’s demotion from the position of Vice President to Minister for Health and the post-election violence of 2007 as two examples of low moments that also proved the third President’s qualities as a great leader.
“If the true measure of a man is how he stands in times of challenge and difficulties, from the 2007 dark moment of our nation, the Hon. Mwai Kibaki stood tall and turned misfortune into positive change,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta emphasized that President Kibaki was a visionary who was propelled by a vision to love the country more than self.
“Although identified by the international media as a world leader, he chose not to take the trodden path. Instead, he opted to explore the unchartered path of an independent Kenya and leave a trail.
“A voice that took him to the path of faith. And because of this walk of faith, the Hon. Mwai Kibaki must godown on record as a guardian visionary of our new Republic,” President Kenyatta said.
He pointed out that his “Big Push Investments” especially in infrastructure were inspired and accelerated by Kenya’s development blueprint Vision 2030 authored by President Kibaki.
“And if President Kibaki authored Vision 2030, the next administration must take us to a bolder plan. They must give us Vision 2063… a blueprint for Kenya at 100 years and beyond,” President Kenyatta said.
On politics, President Kenyatta credited President Kibaki as a gentleman of few words and decisive action who put leadership ahead of politics for the benefit of all Kenyans.
“If he was here with us today, he would have instructed us to choose leadership over politics. He would have told us that leadership is about vision; politics is about positions and that nations are founded on visions,” President Kenyatta said.
He expressed satisfaction that President Kibaki’s enduring legacy will continue to illuminate the country and the African continent, placing him as one of the greatest African statesmen of his generation.
Speaking at the state funeral service, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said President Kibaki will be remembered for the leadership he demonstrated not only in Kenya but also to the African continent.
“But we especially remember him for his leadership in uniting the people of Kenya and for us, as South Africans, we saw him in the mould which we saw our own first President Nelson Mandela who sought to unite our nation and who planted the seeds of the development of South Africa,” President Ramaphosa said.
Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde said the late President Kibaki was a true friend of Ethiopia who elevated the long-standing relations between the two countries by signing a special status agreement thatlaid the foundation for the economic growth of the region.
“During his tenure, our two countries signed a special status agreement laying the foundation for the Lamu Port, South Sudan, Ethiopia corridor project as well as the Moyale one-stop border post,” she said.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir, whose message was read by his Minister of State in the Presidency, said President Kibaki played a key role in the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement in 2005 that secured the self-determination of the people of South Sudan.
Deputy President William Ruto, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and President Kibaki’s son, Jimmy,also spoke at the funeral service attended by Kenyans from all walks of lifeand foreign dignitaries.
Other African leaders present included Prime Minister Édouard Ngirente of Rwanda and Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga (Zimbabwe), Phillip Mpango (Tanzania) and Jessica Alupo (Uganda)as well as former President Joyce Banda of Malawi.
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