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Farewell, Our Gallant Soldier

Sun, Apr 23, 2023

The sun has set on the earthly life of one steady and gentle soul.

I have borne his name for the last twenty-something years … since I got married to his son. I never felt anything but welcome from the day I joined his family.

Kinuthia, the senior, took his final bow a few days ago… at a good 96 years of age. What a full life he led.

He was never one to jostle for airtime. You had to draw near and be silent for him to talk. But if you pulled aside and paid him attention, you were rewarded with yarns of tales from his adventurous life, with the skill of a consummate storyteller, punctuated with a chuckle here and the hint of a knowing smile there.

He had this black mamba (that hardy bicycle ubiquitous to most Kenyan homes back in the day) that could tell stories … places they had been, and stuff they had ferried. He was a celebrated mason, always brimming with a can-do spirit, proud of his fine workmanship. Occasionally he would name-drop, boasting of iconic structures in Nairobi, of which he was on the construction team, like the Kenya Polytechnic.

He reinvented himself over and over, stared adversity in the face, and started from scratch more than once. In the seventies, he ferried his family from central Kenya to (seemingly) far away Nakuru town; a few years later, he settled them on a land settlement scheme that was practically a jungle, and they tamed it into a flourishing farm, sadly in 2008, he had to retrace his steps back to central Kenya after the post-election violence with his life (thankfully) but nothing else more than scraps of more than three decades.

One of the stories that might never be fully told was how he ended up as a night school teacher in Karai, Kiambu, in pre-independence Kenya. I should have asked more questions.

When it came to our all-too-common family land feuds, he chose the high road and personal loss, securing a legacy of peace for his children, among the many other things we’ll remember him for.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Praise the name of the Lord.

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