Kihika Kimani was a unique kind of politician considering that in the Kenyan context, whenever the words land and politician are put in the same sentence, there is usually an evil cloud hanging somewhere.
Either some land has been grabbed, a widow is crying foul somewhere, public land has mysteriously become private or a so-called private developer has encroached on public land. Such is the kind of relationship Kenyans usually associate with politicians and land.
However, in the last year or so, I’ve been introduced to a politician whose association with land doesn’t bring tears to the eyes of Kenyans. The mention of this politician’s name lights up the faces of those who knew him, and especially the elderly members of the society.
The politician is no more having gone to be with the Lord a few years ago. But his name lives on and will be remembered for many years to come still.
For the last year, I’ve had the privilege to traverse to almost every corner of Nakuru County. Surprisingly, one Dixon Kihika Kimani seems to have touched lives in every part of this county and beyond. I first heard the name Kihika back in Laikipia where thousands of Kenyans are settled through the gallant efforts of the late colourful politician.
May it be Naivasha or Gilgil, Subukia or Bahati where he founded Jomo Kenyatta High School (then called Ngwataniro), there are thousands who benefited from his leadership, vision and organisational skills. Had he lived just a few years more, Bahati would today be boasting of an ultra-modern university which he was in the process of putting up before the grim reaper took him.
In Molo where he served as an MP once, he left a legacy, in Njoro he is single-handedly credited for having founded Kihingo township. In the words of another Nakuru County Leader Hon. John Mututho, had Kihika Kimani had a chance to live just a few more years, and had he gotten a chance to actualise his dream, Kihingo township would today be a modern model town.
Mzee Kihika Kimani was not tribal. In Rongai and Kuresoi, I’ve come across Kalenjins and people from other tribes who credit him for helping them own land. Looking back, one can’t fail to admire the zeal, vision and tenacity that held the outspoken man together.
I recall one elderly man in Rongai who directly benefitted from the land buying efforts by Kihika. He narrated how in the beginning, Kihika’s efforts were ridiculed, how some talked ill behind his back saying he was out to con them before they realised his noble intentions.
“The money we were contributing towards the land we are now living on was ridiculous little even by the standards back then. Some didn’t trust him thinking he was out to defraud them. Some of my friends lost golden opportunities to own land only because they took too long to realise that Kihika meant well for all of us,” explained the old man.
Kihika Kimani left a legacy that will live on for many years to come. In the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with one of the late Kihika’s daughters. Everywhere she goes, Susan Kihika is presented with a growing tribute of her late father whom she’s passionately proud of.
As the newly elected Nakuru County Senator, Kihika who will technically be filling her father’s big shoes has a herculean task fitting into her dad’s shoes.
“Of course I knew my father had assisted people but I never knew the magnitude of his works until now,” said the efficacious Susan Kihika once after being presented with the wonderful works her father had achieved.
“Dad was always there for his large family and the fact that he achieved all this must be proof of his tireless devotion to his vision,” says Senator Kihika.
Madam Susan Kihika is slowly proving to be a real scion of the eccentric patriarch. Records show that she was her father’s favourite daughter and she also seems to have taken a lot from him in terms of leadership.
“Kihika will surprise many. You can only underrate her at your own risk as some of us have learnt,” says a male MCA from the first Nakuru County assembly who has worked with Kihika.
The former MCA who opts to remain anonymous says Susan is a no-nonsense leader who remains focused on her goals and will always stand with what she believes in.