May the killers of Chris Msando, the elections technology manager, forever lack peace, a distraught Eva, his widow said Thursday.
In a one-minute off-the-cuff speech before she read her tribute, Mrs Eva Buyu Msando, laid bare her grief and torment in front of hundreds of mourners who had gathered at the Consolata Shrine in Westlands, Nairobi, for a requiem mass.
She wondered aloud why her husband was killed, how she would get on with her life without him and how she would take care of her five children — aged between two and 17 — on her own.
“I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what to tell you. All I have is why? Why? Why?” she said and fondly described Msando as a deeply loving man who witnessed the births of all their children at the delivery room.
She married him 2006, she said, adding that she used to call him “sweetie”.
She referred to the first verse of the Kenyan National Anthem that says “Justice be our shield and defender”, and asked Kenyans to stand with her in her own fight for justice.
“It is wrong. It is not fair,” she said of Msando’s murder.
“Look at the babies. My oldest is 10. If I include Jacob, my oldest is 17. And our youngest baby with Chris is only two,” she said.
Then Mrs Msando, the second last-born daughter of Rev Andrew Buyu, looked straight at the 10 television cameras, some of which were beaming her tribute live, and delivered a straight-shooting message to her husband’s killers.
“Are you happy? Because I know you are watching! May you not have peace! And vengeance is of the Lord. Na Mungu atatupigania (And God will fight for us). Chris’s death will not go in vain,” she said.
Mr Msando, whose body showed marks of torture, was murdered on July 29 and dumped in Kiambu County a day after he disappeared, only a week to the August 8 General Election.
An autopsy showed he was strangled to death.
He was the head of data and infrastructure at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and had become the face of the elections technology system deployed in the high-stakes polls.
Mrs Msando read a five-minute written tribute describing her husband as osiepna, ma wuon nyithinda (My friend, the father of my children).
“Chris was meticulous in his work and took great pride in all that he engaged in.
"He never disappointed in the delivery of his targets. This can be attested to by how he tirelessly worked to ensure proper systems were in place for a free, fair and credible election.”
The family said it believed his murder was connected to the election.
“We as a family believe Chris was killed because of his job. If he were still working for the National Aids Council, I know my brother would still be here,” Msando’s elder sister, Pamela, said.
Mr Msando worked for the council until November 2016 when he joined IEBC.
“I am telling the government: Tell us who killed Chris, because you have the capacity.
"To Kenyans: Please stand with us as we demand justice. Do not talk about peace without justice. They go together,” Pamela said.
The suspicion that Mr Msando was killed by people that wanted access to his perceived knowledge of the IEBC systems and particularly the elections technology he managed have further been reinforced by opposition chief Raila Odinga, has said some unscrupulous individuals used his password to access, hack the IEBC system and alter the results.
At the mass, IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati and CEO Ezra Chiloba mourned Mr Msando as a man they said had come to be the go-to person in terms of the elections technology.
Quoting American entrepreneur Jim Rohn, Mr Chebukati said Mr Msando exemplified leadership:
“The challenge of leadership is to be strong but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humour, but without folly.”
Mr Chiloba, to whom Mr Msando reported to directly, lead the congregation in singing the legendary tribute “It is well with my soul”.
“At the end of the day, God will bring us justice to his family, friends and the country,” Mr Chiloba said.
Kisumu Governor-elect Anyang’ Nyong’o termed Mr Msando’s death as cruel, likening it to the assassination of Tom Joseph Mboya in 1969.
“There is something rotten in this country,” Prof Nyong’o said, quoting playwright Shakespeare.
Other leaders who attended the mass included United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary General Mukisha Kituyi, Mr Odinga’s elder brother Dr Oburu Oginga, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, and Kisumu Senator-elect Fred Outa.
“We shall continue to ask questions of who murdered Chris, and most importantly, who sent them to murder him so they can benefit from his death,” Mr Wandayi said.
Mr Msando will be buried on Saturday at his home in Kobiero, Ugenya in Siaya, after a funeral service at Lifunga Primary School.