“ If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
II Chronicles 7:14
Events of last month, and years before that, call for each one of us to reflect on our lives and our beloved country. To lose six great Kenyans in mysterious circumstances in a helicopter crash, a repeat of what happened on the same date and month four years ago and has happened many other times in our skies killing and maiming many Kenyans, should not be explained away as the will of God. God does not wish evil on any of us; not as individuals, families or a nation. Our God is gracious and merciful and He values our lives. He does not rejoice in seeing the tears of widows, widowers and orphans. He does not rejoice in watching a country steeped in grief and moaning.
We continue to lose many Kenyans in circumstances that are unacceptable and avoidable such as accidents, murders and treatable illnesses, yet we seem to be so accepting of such deaths that from funerals loaded with condolence messages extolling the departed, our lives continue as if nothing happened. We only remember when the next one happens. We pledge thorough investigations – “leaving no stone unturned!” – but often nothing comes out of it. In God’s eyes we are guilty – guilty of allowing evil to prevail, guilty of not valuing human life, guilty of forgetting families of the bereaved, guilty of selfishness and greed, guilty of letting the memory of our great men and women die, guilty of not keeping promises made at funerals, indeed, guilty of so many things that our God is asking for our repentance.
No matter what faith you follow, if you believe in God Almighty, you need to be guided by the words of II Chronicles 7:14, go on your knees, repent your sins and relentlessly pray for God’s forgiveness and cleansing of our country and it’s people. Our country needs healing today, now, this very minute. If you love your country and its people, pray as God will hear our united prayers. If you were touched by the tears of the widows, widower and children of the recently departed, you have an obligation to pray.
As we pray for the families of the departed heroes – Internal Security minister Professor George Saitoti and his assistant minister Joshua Orwa Ojodeh, the pilots of the ill-fated helicopter Nancy Gituanja and Luke Oyugi and bodyguards Thomas Murimi and Joshua Tonkei, let us remember their good deeds and emulate them.
As for me, I will forever hold fond memories of George Saitoti as a man who worked tirelessly for the good of this country. Aside of politics, many people have said many things about this academician turned politician who approached public service with great enthusiasm, and desired to see Kenya a better place for all. Saitoti was indeed a remarkable man who left a mark of his good deeds not only in his constituency and the ministries he served, but also in promotion of girls’ education.
Many people may not know that Saitoti played a key role in the establishment of the Starehe Girls Centre, which has become a centre of excellence, ranking amongst top performing Kenyan schools despite its young age. He was minister of Education when Starehe Girls Centre was started in 2005. As a minister and in his own capacity, he gave tremendous support to the school.
I distinctly remember three things, which I would wish to share with you as my tribute to the late minister. One, when we were looking for land to house the school, we went to a few people we thought could help. Saitoti was one of them. Without hesitation, he offered to help us get land in Isinya in his Kajado North constituency. We thanked him for the offer and explained why we thought the school should be located in Nairobi. He agreed with us. Some three years ago, at a party held in my house in honour of educationalist Dr. Eddah Gachukia, I reminded Saitoti that we were ready to take him up on the land offer and with his characteristic smile he said, ‘anytime.’ That will never be, he’s already gone.
Two, when we found land in Nairobi’s Kasarani constituency off Kiambu road in late 2003 and were ready to start the school we went back to Saitoti. He not only affirmed the government’s full commitment to support the school, but also promised to provide the teachers and other financial assistance. Indeed, he was so encouraging and supportive that we left his office daring to start a school in three months to beat the January 2004 intake. Wise counsel from the late Dr. Jeffery Griffins convinced us to spend more time in preparations and laying the foundation. Starehe Girls Centre opened its doors to high performing girls from poor families from all over the country in 2005. Their performance in the three years they have done KCSE makes us smile as we remember Saitoti.
Three, Starehe is funded with donations and Saitoti was a great supporter. I remember a fundraising dinner hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya in 2008 and Saitoti changed his travel plans to be back in the country in time for the event. He came to the dinner tired but still smiling and carrying his personal donation of Ksh500, 000.
I could go on and on. I have no doubt that Ojodeh’s script written by those whose lives he touched would read the same. We have lost two great selfless leaders whose tribe was Kenya. May the good Lord rest their souls and those of the other four who perished with them in eternal peace, bless and protect their families and make all men and women of goodwill pick lessons from their lives and emulate them.