If you ask most Kenyans who the hell this man being mourned by the entire country was, they won’t hesitate to tell you that Rtd. Major Gen. Joseph Kasaine Ole Nkaissery was that tough Interior Cabinet Secretary with a towering physique, a rare sense of duty to motherland that sometimes rubbed even his allies the wrong way, an extraordinary commitment to the military oath of enlistment he took decades earlier during his youthful years in the army and an undying love for his Maa cultural roots that almost got him branded an ethnic supremacist.
But unkown to many is the fact that, behind that tough and commandeering face that graced our TV screens every time our internal security was under threat was the soft spoken, humourous and highly sociable man that was the other side of and perhaps the true character of the fallen general.
Those who knew Gen. Nkaissery at a personal level will confirm that he is one of the easiest men one can ever across; a guy who was always at ease with life, a trait that is quite rare among military officers of his stature.
His Ilbisil village, Kajiado County neighbours talk of a man who had achieved so much yet remained so humble.
Colleague officers he was in service with recall a man who ventured into any battlefield smiling, fought selflessly and then emerged from it all with the same signature smile ready to take his time and toast to the victory.
Well, some pundits have argued that Nkaissery’s composure during his days in uniform was as a result of the specialized training he underwent in countries like India and the US; but that is far from the truth.
Otherwise, how due explain the fact that, long after he hung his boots and joined politics in 2002, Nkaissery would always be at ease interacting and conversing with anyone around him regardless of their social status?
Stories are told off how Nkaissery the mheshimiwa for Kajiado Central would casually walk into the Bomas Lounge, the bar he had frequented since 1973, sit on one of the ‘sina tabu’ stools at the counter, order a Tusker and then go ahead to freely interact with other revellers present; some totally unfamiliar to him.
And even when he was elevated to a Cabinet Secretary in 2014, Nkaissery defied security arrangements that came with his new job and still spent his evenings at his old joint.
A few hours before he breathed his last, Nkaissery had just had a drink catching up with old friends at his same old local; the Bomas Lounge!
Fare thee well general.