And then there are many Kenyans from those times who remember how the Presidential Escort Motorcade would travel at high speed on the Nakuru-Nairobi Highway in the 1980s and the 1990s, either from Nakuru to Nairobi or vice versa. Nakuru-Nairobi/Nairobi-Nakuru is two hours by road, but the Presidential Escort normally did Nakuru-Nairobi/Nairobi-Nakuru in about 75 minutes, normally on Uncle Dan’s instructions because there was always something that needed to be done, somewhere that he needed to be.
I read this in a long post by Michael Mundia Kamau, who I enjoy reading his historical pieces and nostalgic photos he shares on his Facebook page and reading this prompted me to share the following from my memoir (work in progress) regarding presidential motorcades.
[I describe in my memoir, the first and second time I was in a presidential motorcade though it would be more accurate to call it a Prime Ministerial motorcade as this was when Raila was Prime Minister and on those two occasions I joined him, in his limousine, on a tour to Mt. Kenya region, including a visit to Dedan Kihika Kiman’s home in Njambini where I met for the first time and chitchatted with Maina Njenga, and another time when I was in a separate vehicle on a motorcade with the then PM to Nyayo Stadium to attend a friendly soccer match between Kenya and Uganda]
Here is something this post reminded me I can share now, and it has to do with the 2013 general elections.
It was not a motorcade but, being driven in an official campaign vehicle for ODM during the 2013 elections campaign. In the 2007 general elections, I was ODM’s Supervising Agent for Rift Valley [more on that in the memoirs]. In 2013, I worked with someone who is now a senior officer in the Deputy Prime Minister’s office, as the Advance Team for countrywide ODM campaign rallies.
Our primary responsibility was to arrive at the next rally venue, usually a day before where we would meet with local leaders to flesh-out any issues that may be there and to supervise logistics for the rallies, such as sitting arrangements, facilitating PA systems, liaising with the media and so on.
Although sometimes we would stay for the rally, often we would leave as soon as Raila and his entourage arrive to dash to the next venue to do the same advance work, especially if the rallies were close by. On occasion, we would spend overnight and travel early the next morning for the next rally.
Our driver in the high-end SUV must have been plucked from the Presidential Escort unit because his driving skills were breathtaking—literally! The man could put his foot to the pedal unlike anyone I knew or seen and yet, he was able to drive us all those times crisscrossing the country without even as coming close to having an accident.
In hindsight, I know it was only God who protected us because the speeds we were doing on these treacherous Kenyan roads were such that it was simply by God’s intervention we never got involved in any accident.
The man drove so fast, and so dangerously overtook other vehicles I would close my eyes and try to go to sleep so as not to see things flying by such as big buses and lorries he was whizzing by as if he was on a suicidal mission.
The senior government official I was riding and working with and I sat in the back and the driver and security detail sat in the front but. Being a senior government official used to being driven at these speeds, my friend expressed no concern neither did he seem to be bothered at all.
Because of this, I also did bother saying anything for some time, but I did once bring it up confessing to him I was petrified at the speed we were being driven.
That day, he told the driver to slow down and it also happened to be the day we were to drive from Nakuru Afraha Stadium in the late afternoon headed to Mombasa where the next rally was to be held. The driver was determined to get us there in a flush and I overheard him say as much to the security detail, prompting me to say something to my colleague as I couldn’t bear the scare anymore.
[I recount in my memoirs how on this trip, we were joined by an OCPD we gave a ride to Nairobi who engaged in talk with my partner on fascinating “inner government” stories but I fell asleep much of the way though I had already promised not to disclose anything I heard the two talk about, and I wouldn’t—fascinating as what little I had was].
It turns out the driver was not plucked from the Presidential Escort, but he previously drove matatus before being recruited to become a government driver.
I have these recollections under the above titled chapter for a reason and I may or may not share details about this trip and day I nearly perished in a road accident on the way to Mombasa, being driven in a rental car and the near miss accident occurred just before getting to our destination.
It was a terrifying experience I am debating whether to even recount but will decide if to do so and how much of it I would share, as it also involves a plot by someone who must have wanted yours truly dead.
Some things are better off forgotten and that is my current inclination.
Read more in my memoirs I hope to publish before the next elections.