Leadership, News

Here Are Five Lessons That We Can Learn from the Late President Kibaki

Our depart­ed for­mer Pres­i­dent Mwai Kiba­ki was my friend and boss. I was priv­i­leged to learn five key lessons from him that can trans­form our nation.

The first les­son can be found on a hot April after­noon in 2013. Just a few weeks after his pres­i­den­cy con­clud­ed, Pres­i­dent Kiba­ki attend­ed the funer­al of my dear friend Sen. Mutu­la Kilo­n­zo. While describ­ing the late Mutu­la Kilo­n­zo to mourn­ers, he uttered words that spot­light this first les­son, “this man was one of those whose mind was there to serve peo­ple. Ask your­self the ques­tion, what have I done to serve people?” 

The first les­son can be summed up in two words – ser­vant lead­er­ship. Our depart­ed third Pres­i­dent was a pas­sion­ate firm believ­er in ser­vant lead­er­ship. He didn’t have the ‘boss men­tal­i­ty’ that many waheshimi­was are prone to embrace. 

The sec­ond les­son can be found in Brazil. In 2012, I was part of Pres­i­dent Kibaki’s offi­cial entourage to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Rio+20, the Unit­ed Nations Con­fer­ence on Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment. The Pres­i­den­cy invit­ed me due to my well-known envi­ron­men­tal work. Dur­ing our sojourn there, he grant­ed me a chance to per­son­al­ly intro­duce him to His Serene High­ness Prince Albert II of Mona­co, who by God’s grace is known to me.

The Pres­i­dent informed me that there was no need for me to issue him with a detailed pres­i­den­tial brief about the goal of the meet­ing. He told me in his usu­al wit­ty man­ner, “wewe una­jua nini Kenya inahi­ta­ji. Utase­ma yotee. Mimi nitase­ma wewe ni mtu mzuri ” ( You already know what Kenya needs, say it all. I will only say that you are a great per­son). Suf­fice it to say that the meet­ing was very fruit­ful for both Kenya and Mona­co. It was effec­tive because he gave me wings to fly and trust­ed me to deliv­er. Lead­ers must empow­er those under their wings by giv­ing them wings to fly.

The third les­son can be found in 2011, in the rur­al parts of Kitui. Pres­i­dent Kiba­ki hon­ored the ordi­nary peo­ple of Kitui when he vis­it­ed our Green Africa Foun­da­tion Farm to offi­cial­ly launch the Green Africa Vil­lages Ini­tia­tive and the Plant Your Age cam­paign. Con­trary to what many thought, the Pres­i­dent vis­it­ed us in response to an invi­ta­tion let­ter that I had sent him. Although pow­er­ful peo­ple were against that vis­it, the Pres­i­dent refused to be a par­ty to polit­i­cal machi­na­tions. Indeed, you did not need patron­age to access Kiba­ki for as long as you did the right thing. Tru­ly, we must ensure an open-door pol­i­cy that will grant equal oppor­tu­ni­ty to all irre­spec­tive of their eth­nic­i­ty, reli­gion, or eco­nom­ic status. 

The fourth les­son can be found in the final weeks of Kibaki’s pres­i­den­cy. As one of his final acts, he appoint­ed me as Found­ing Chair­per­son of the Kenya Water Tow­ers Agency. He did so because he believed in reward­ing com­pe­tence. That is a vital les­son that we should take to heart espe­cial­ly as we approach the gen­er­al elec­tions. Our votes should reward com­pe­tence, not just brava­do and chest-thump­ing. Once the lead­ers we shall elect take office, we as the peo­ple of Kenya must ensure that they reward com­pe­tence, not crony­ism and tribalism. 

The fifth les­son can be found in scrip­ture that Pres­i­dent Kiba­ki epit­o­mized. The Scrip­ture says in Proverbs that in the mul­ti­tude of coun­selors there is safe­ty. Pres­i­dent Kiba­ki exem­pli­fied this piece of wis­dom. Many have tes­ti­fied that he was a great lis­ten­er, which is the mark of some­one who seeks coun­sel. What hasn’t been suf­fi­cient­ly spot­light­ed is the way that he assem­bled a thought­ful, rich­ly expe­ri­enced team of advi­sors that pro­vid­ed him with price­less coun­sel. They include Ambas­sador Fran­cis Muthau­ra, Prof Wan­jo­hi, and many more great peo­ple.  Many present-day lead­ers sur­round them­selves with syco­phants who have nei­ther the courage nor the capac­i­ty to give them crit­i­cal coun­sel. At what­ev­er stage you are in your life even as we pray that God com­forts The Kiba­ki fam­i­ly, seek coun­sel, lis­ten and act on it. Think green, act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

Why We Must Revamp The Kenya School of Government to Improve Public Policy and Leadership
How Baby Diapers Can Kick Start Kenya’s Economic Transformation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed