African Press International (API)

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Kenya: JM’s daughter relives the pain of losing a father

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

By Peter Thatiah

As enraged masses spill into the streets, there are solemn promises of retaliation and emotional declarations from politicians seizing an opportunity to make political mileage.

Kenya has just witnessed a high-profile political assassination.

The focus is on the fallen hero, and even the most casual acquaintance has a story to tell. But rarely has the side of the story of the bereaved family been the highlight of the tragedies, which have rocked the country since independence.

The only time the families are remembered is during anniversary of the death of their loved ones.

Yet the families of Pio Gama Pinto, Tom Mboya, JM Kariuki and Robert Ouko have been left to pick up the pieces of broken hearts and shattered dreams.

Ms Rosemary Kariuki-Machuaria talks about her father who was assassinated 33 years ago

And as Ms Rosemary Kariuki-Machua, the daughter of JM Kariuki, then Nyandarua North MP says in a new book that the families never forget. She was only 11 years old when her famous father was murdered.

Today, 33 years later, the nation still awaits truth and justice. For Kariuki-Machua, it took 29 years to forgive, and now she has written a book telling the story of a child robbed of a father.

I Am My Father’s Daughter is not only a story about a family that lost a husband and father when they needed him most, but also a heart-rending insight into a family forced to grieve in the glare of the public.

It is a tale of intriguing betrayal.

Kariuki-Machua points out that the book is her personal account. She talks about the intrigues surrounding the moments before her father’s death, the family’s reaction and the revelations that cast a new light on the intentions of JM’s killers.

She says her father kept records on certain people, especially those who were at the centre of the Kenyatta succession battle, some of whom are still alive.

Contrary to past reports, JM was warned many times that his life was in danger.

A woman, a former Mau Mau fighter, identified only as Field Marshall Muthoni, claims she told JM of a plot to assassinate him.

Cruel twist

Some friends even urged him to go to exile, but the politician would not hear of it.

Kariuki-Machua says that one of the untold things about JM’s murder is that he had not disclosed all his assets to his first wife, her mother Doris Nyambura, or other family members.

It is said some people close to her father colluded with relatives to deny his immediate family property.

She writes passionately about her elder brother, John, who was close to JM and was the hardest hit by his death.

a broken man

The young man has never recovered from the loss and has mourned him all his life. He later sank into alcoholism. For many years, John was a living depository of the tragic affair.

The book authored by RosemaryPhotos: Peter Thatiahi/Standard]

Writes Kariuki-Machua: “I remember very vividly the last time I saw my father alive. It must have been February, 1975.

My sister Mumbi and I were in boarding school and had come home for mid-term holiday. We were out and about doing our own things as my dad prepared to leave for the day.

For some reason, my mother insisted that he should not leave until he says goodbye to us.

She called us from our rooms. It was not common for my mother to do so. It was strange, but we obliged. Looking back, the way he hugged us that morning was very different. There was a sense of finality in his embrace. That was the last time I saw him alive.”

Although she does not tell us who murdered her father, the author leaves little doubt on the motives and the people involved.

Also not named are relatives said to have participated in mischief after JM’s death. Although she insists she has long since forgiven them, a note of bitterness rings between the lines as Kariuki-Machua relives her father’s death.


Published by Korir, Chief Editor, African Press International -API /


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