‘I stand before you today on my own behalf and that of my government and all past governments to offer a sincere apology to all our compatriots for all past wrongs….’ read in part , the President Uhuru Kenyatta’s speech on March 26, 2015.
Survivors and victims of past historical injustices followed the live broadcast from parliament hopefully, all the while thinking that finally they had a government that cared.
It has been 41 years since we were robbed of a father, a husband, a brother and a friend; a great leader in the eyes of many Kenyans.
JM Kariuki was assassinated on 2 March 1975. He was last seen alive at the Hilton Hotel, Nairobi, accompanied by senior police officers on that Sunday.
His disappearance was investigated by a parliamentary select committee whose mandate was to investigate the disappearance and subsequent death of J.M. They gave recommendations which were never implemented.
Neither my family nor anyone else thought the truth was found.
Today, as we celebrate this great man who was a victim of a brutal, rotten dictatorial government, we still beg for answers.
Was the apology by President Uhuru Kenyatta genuine or was it one of his public relations stunts?
We have been treated to theatrics before. We have been lied to by the leaders we are supposed to trust.
I ask, Mr. President, have you read the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report? Has your government implemented any of the recommendations to the victims and their families? Is the Sh10 billion kitty you set aside intended to carry out that role? If so, Mr. President, how are the victims involved? Is this a victim-centered process?
Among other findings, the TJRC report declared that JM was assassinated for political reasons and that state officials including members of the police and Special Branch were directly involved in the assassination.
‘The Commission finds that there is sufficient evidence implicating the following individuals in the assassination and/or subsequent cover-up’. Then it goes ahead to name those individuals….
My duty is to find the truth about my father’s death so he may finally rest in peace; after all, sons and daughters have a duty to their fathers.
A month before independence, my father delivered a moving speech through which he sought to have the government find and fund solutions for the poor, the disadvantaged, and the disabled. In it, he communicates his ideas about the future, and his role as he understood it on the eve of independence from colonial rule.
‘There is no one among us here today who can sit comfortably at his table after meeting the eyes of a hungry child. .. There is no one who can button his coat about him with ease as he thinks of the threadbare shift of a woman who is in want.
‘There is no one who can walk with pride and comfort when he remembers the cripples who cannot walk. What I would like to say is a special word for the children, the citizens of tomorrow who must go forward with the task of building the nation when we ourselves are no longer able to do so. We, in this House, do not expect to live for much longer, but let us ensure by timely action that yesterday’s bitterness is not carried forward to tomorrow.’
Those sentiments are as relevant today as they were at the dawn of our independence. We need leaders who will carry the people’s agenda, we the people of Kenya deserve better. But just like my dad spoke as a prophet, I wish to say that indeed a time will come when we will enjoy a leadership that will not treat victims’ and survivors’ requests for justice as dustbin material, and I will be there to witness my mother sigh and smile as her husband who even in death, is accorded the justice he deserves.
Today is a sad day and as we continue to seek the ever elusive answers from our leaders, we celebrate our heroes. We lost a great man. As I write this, not as a reminder to this government, but as a demand, that on this anniversary of my father’s brutal assassination, this government stop making promises and implement justice.
Join me in remembering JM, a good father. Let us honor our fathers.
My name is Rosemary Kariuki and I am my father’s daughter.