Many have asked me to pen a memoir and I fully intend to do so, if anything to put in record that which I have personally witnessed or been a part of. To the extent I can, anyway, for there are things that shall forever remain private, especially as they pertain to public figures I have had the privilege to know or interact with. As I have done previously, I continue to share tidbits here and there, including this one.
The World Bank, through the office of its Vice President for Africa, invited a handful of Kenyans of which I was one to have a meeting at the World Bank offices in Washington DC. The purpose of the meeting was to organize a core group of Kenyans who, in turn, will organize Kenyans in the diaspora to more effectively participate in our country’s economic development.
The recognition was, Kenyans in the diaspora already contribute significantly in Kenya’s economy but mostly by family remittances and other contributions beside direct income and jobs generating activities.
We called this group the Kenya Diaspora Network or KDN.
Although everyone expected yours truly to be the inaugural chairman, this was not a role I wanted to assume, given my then very busy practice and other considerations. Instead, I encouraged a good friend Michael Okomo to vie and we had him elected as chairman.
[I discuss in detail what happened with the group, especially after KCA’s President Mwaniki was invited to join the group, and why I and other founders decided to leave the group and things went downhill from there for the group].
Soon after formation of the group, I had a discussion with the World Bank liaison for groups like this (there were others, including one for Ethiopia and Sri Lanka, which was the pilot country for this World Bank initiative).
In my discussion, I told him I was soon traveling to Kenya and looking forward to bring the group’s vision to the Minister of finance and others.
The gentleman told me this was perfect timing because there was a World Bank Consultative Group Meeting for Kenya taking place in Nairobi at the same time I was planning to be there.
The liaison then arranged to have me credentialed as an observer for the invitation only meeting that was to take place at Safari Park Hotel in April 11 and 12, 2005.
As an invited guest for the meeting, I had an option to stay at Safari Park at reduced rates but I opted to instead stay at Fairview Hotel where I met Ruto for the first time and more on that later.
On the appointed date, April 11, 2005, I was driven to Safari Park and dismissed my driver, with instructions for him to come back later in the evening about 6pm. This is because I was planning to be at the meeting the whole day and ditto the next day.
I then proceeded to the meetings wing of the hotel but could not be admitted to the meeting because I did not have proper credentials. I explained that I was there as an observer by arrangement of the World Bank office in Washington.
The polite staff directed me to go see a Ms. Ruth at the other side of the hotel, which I did. She told me she was expecting me and handed me my name badge as well as other useful information.
I then returned to the venue and this time was welcomed and proceeded to the meeting room, which was actually more like a huge lecture hall.
As always, I never like sitting to the front. I prefer sitting all the way on the back in settings like this and that’s what I did.
As was scanning around, I could immediately recognize the place was full of who’s who in Kenyan government other than Kibaki who was not present.
Everyone else who runs the government or had a stake in how the government was run was there.
During a short break before lunch, I went over to say hi to my political mentor and friend Simeon Nyachae.
As we were talking, several people waved or said hello to him and one, he told him there’s someone I’ll like you to meet.
He then introduced me to someone I already recognized as none other than now President Uhuru Kenyatta.
I had never previously met the man in person but had heard and read a ton about him so, I was pleased to meet and hear him speak one on one like that. As I have previously blogged, my conclusion from that brief meeting was contrary to what I had heard or read up until that point, Uhuru was intelligent, articulate and down to earth like no other person of his background and privilege.
He remains to be so this day.
[More about the meeting, how I also met Amos Wako for the first time, what happened in my brief chat with him about dual citizenship, looking to my right during the meeting and seeing someone sitting all alone, nobody talking to him at all even during the break. It was none other than the now late Nicholas Biwot. I couldn’t believe it; this once so powerful man in Moi era was basically a loner at this meeting! And much more, including how a then cabinet minister and “friend” dodged and basically refused to have his driver drop me in town and why I had to leave earlier than when my own driver could make it back to Safari Park to pick me up]
I will meet Uhuru again, for the second time and this was just after passage of the new constitution referendum before promulgation. I met Uhuru this time at a mutual friend’s house and I told him I was headed back to the United States that evening.
Uhuru told me I should stay for the promulgation then planned about a month later but I told both he and our mutual friend I wished I could but I had to return to the US with intention to plan on coming back for the promulgation as it was going to be the historic event to cap this historic occasion as we ushered in the new constitution. And that’s exactly what I did, namely, returning to the US and then back home 3 weeks later for the promulgation.
[More on promulgation, how Kibaki snubbed my friend and not inviting him and his supporters to State House for the party there following Uhuru Park festivities, how my friend was already ahead of this and hard organized an alternative party at the Carnivore, how as I told to wait in my hotel where my special invitation to the Carnivore bash was hand delivered to my room and what went down at the bash itself, including musing with interacting with then Speaker Kenneth Marende, what I told him, his response and how I shook hands and said hello to the late Dr. Kofi Anan and comedy relief involving one Jeremiah Nyagah]
All that and more in my memoirs when finally published.
Including more on Constitutional Change 2.0; the impending referendum.