The demise of former Cabinet Minister William Ronkorua Ole Ntimama on Thursday last week brings forth an infrequent opportunity; a rare moment of truth we can utilize as Kenyans to re-examine and rethink the way we eulogize our dead and hopefully, positively shape the mindset & destiny of our future generations on the same.
Of course, it is a taboo in the African setting to castigate the dead.
However, there comes a time when we have to be on right side of history by telling that untold and rather unattractive story, no matter how cruel it might sound.
For once, let’s try to be honest to ourselves.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy William Ruto and CORD leader Raila Odinga’s kind eulogies aside, Ntimama was not the great patriot and ‘statesman’(sic) we are all trying to make him.
For the four decades Ntimama bestrode Maasailand like the proverbial colossus, he was not just the community’s spokesman.
The guy has been post independent Kenya’s most unapologetic tribal bigot whose long political career was solely dependent on ethnic patronage.
Actually, very few Kenyan politicians – if any – can beat Ntimama when it come to the art and science of stoking tribal emotions; but of course his sympathizers will tell you he was innocently championing for Maasai community rights (sic)
The guy’s incitement record may not be broken any time soon.
Although he was pretty aware of the dire repercussions of ethnocentrism – Kenya’s biggest headache – Ntimama over the years constantly incited the Maasai against other ethnic groupings.
August 1990 –“The Ibos of Nigeria were cut to size (sic) and I said the same thing could happen to these tribalists. They could also be cut to size, if this is the utterance that some people are referring to, then I want to reiterate here and now that I will stand by it and I have no regrets about it.”
September 1990 – “Because our power of pen and paper is limited, we will use a rungu to keep multiparty advocates away.”
September 1992 – “(Kikuyus are people with) protruding stomachs, flat noses, jigger-infested feet and stained brown teeth.”
December 1995 –“Go to Ngong, Kiserian and Ongata Rongai. A single community has occupied Maasailand from Ngong to Loitokitok.”
January 1997 – “I am telling those whom we have invited to the Rift Valley and who have now come up to Kitale, that our political wishes must be respected. In the African type of politics, there will always be problems with your neighbor if you are not in the same political house.”
So, why exactly did Ntimama incite the Maasai – against other communities – so passionately throughout his political career?
Did he love the Maa community that much?
I don’t think so.
The guy was just another self centered politician keen on using ‘his’ community to safeguard his own personal interests.
To begin with, Ntimama might not even have been a Maasai. Born in, Katheri village in Meru to a Maasai father and a local woman between late 1929 and early 1930 (birth date not certain) Ntimama once confessed in an interview with the Daily Nation newspaper in 2013, that he never killed a lion as a young Maasai moran, an act that is widely perceived as part of the rite of passage in his community.
Secondly, Ntimama’s opportunism is evident from his early years. He once joined the colonial administration to serve as a Division Officer (DO)and later a colonial DO in Marigat and Kabarnet (in now Baringo County) while other Kenyans were in the trenches agitating for independence.
Thirdly, Ntimama was a man who could easily betray even a close friend without an iota of guilt as long his own interest was taken care of. For example, why did he betray his long time ally – former President Daniel Arap Moi – by joining the change the constitution movement that sought to bar Moi from taking over government incase Mzee Jomo Kenyatta died?
Finally, how comes he owned over 600 acres of private land yet most of Maasai land is collectively owned by the community?
Anyway, fare thee well mzee.