Kitui West MP Francis Nyenze has lost the battle with colon cancer, a disease he had resiliently fought for close to a decade. He was 60.
In the days leading up to his death at 7.50am, there were times he would ask his wife Edith to “release” him, saying his time had come.
His widow emotionally recalled yesterday: “He would tell me, ‘Please release me, I’m ready. I’ve served the people, I’m right with God, and I’m ready to go.”
“I would not release him. I would encourage him.”
Mrs Nyenze said that when she left him at Nairobi Hospital on Tuesday night, he was strong enough to feed himself and could even struggle to walk. She, however, sensed a “difference” in the way he bade her goodbye.
“The ‘bye’ was different from the way he says it other times,” said Mrs Nyenze.
“But before then I’d prayed for him and told him I was leaving him in the hands of God. But I did not mean to release him.”
Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, a brother-in-law of Mr Nyenze’s, said the cancer treatment regime had caused the MP’s lungs to weaken. As a result, he contracted pneumonia during the campaigns for the August 8 General Election.
“The lungs had really been compromised,” he said. “So, he had difficulties breathing.”
It is for that reason that Mr Nyenze showed up in Parliament on August 31 carrying an oxygen tank and in a breathing mask as he was sworn in.
Mr Wambua said the MP was in hospital for three weeks and he visited him on Tuesday.
“As usual, we spoke,” said Mr Wambua.
“He said he would be strong. So, when the call came this morning that he had left us, it was a shock to all of us.”
Mrs Nyenze said her husband had visited various countries to seek treatment.
“He’s had cancer of the colon from around 2008,” said Mrs Nyenze. “At first, he was treated and it was okay. It came back in 2013 and, from that time, he’s really fought.”
Mr Nyenze, a third-term MP, chaired the parliamentary committee that investigated pyramid schemes. The Kanu-era Cabinet minister was the National Assembly Minority Leader in the last Parliament.
He is survived by his widow and their three children — Eric, 30, Ruth, 26, and Grace, 23.
“He’s the best thing that God has ever given me,” Mrs Nyenze eulogised her husband. “He was a very loving husband, a politician but faithful to the family, faithful to the wife.
The body was transferred to Lee Funeral Home.
Leaders who visited the mortuary to pay their respects included Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana and Kenya’s Ambassador to Turkey Kiema Kilonzo.
Others were MPs Daniel Maanzo (Makueni), Joshua Mwalyo (Masinga), Jessica Mbalu (Kibwezi East), Patrick Makau (Mavoko), Suleiman Dori (Msambweni) and Ben Momanyi (Borabu).
“When you talk about sobriety and maturity in the politics of this country, Honourable Nyenze had his place,” said Mr Wamalwa.
Prof Kibwana said: “We remember him for being a very reconciliatory person.”
Mr Kilonzo remembered Mr Nyenze as one of the Ukambani leaders who fought for multi-party democracy while Mr Wambua said the MP accommodated divergent views.