Nicholas Biwott was obsessed with his security

Wednesday July 12 2017

Former minister Nicholas Biwott chats with colleague Arthur Magugu at Parliament Buildings during the Moi era. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Former minister Nicholas Biwott chats with colleague Arthur Magugu at Parliament Buildings during the Moi era. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By BERNARD NAMUNANE
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In The Crash of ’79, Paul Erdman may have wanted to show the grandiose and vainglorious lives of the oil-rich sheikhs of the Middle East and how they toyed with the West’s financial system

Yet in characters, Bill Hitchcock—an American financial genius and cynic—and Ursula Hartman, a cute Swiss daughter of one of the world’s most distinguished nuclear scientists and whose mother was a  Jew, he inadvertently found himself pontificating about one of the  Jewish obsession: Security.

It goes that once you marry Jew, all your children are Jews. So will your character from that period.

JEWISH WOMAN

Former Moi-era powerful minister Nicholas Biwott was married to an Australian Jewish woman who he met while studying for his post-graduate degree in Economics at the University of Melbourne where he completed his studies in 1968.

Even as the curtains fell on his life on Tuesday morning, the mystery which surrounded his life driven by obsession with security, will go with him to his grave.

Standing just slightly over five-feet tall and a deceptively shy public demeanour, Biwott attracted both fear and awe among Kenyans.

To start with, it was only on Tuesday after news of his passing on that people knew the wealthy leader of the National Vision Party lived in Kileleshwa, save for a few select bodyguards and aides he trusted to boot.

KAPTAGAT

In Eldoret, he is said to have owned several homes although he preferred conducting his business at the Kaptagat Hotel.

Perhaps the country will now know his other residences in Nairobi and Eldoret since it is African for people to visit homes of the dead to condole the bereaved family.

He guarded his private life to the hilt and few can tell the size of his family—the number of wives and children.

Only his Australian-born Jewish wife and Investment Secretary Esther Koimet are publicly known to members of his family.

FIVE PHONES

Prof Margaret Kamar, Jubilee’s candidate for Uasin Gishu senate seat, has closely been linked to Biwott as his wife.

Biwott, even though he dad five phones in various ministerial offices he served, did not have a mobile phone number to his name.

As you may have known, mobile phones can easily tell you location, whether or not you have turned off the location provision in the phone settings.

He preferred using mobile phones of his aides and security personnel.

PAY FOR AIRTIME

On some occasions, he would request for phones from the closest person, make his calls and generously pay for the airtime he has used.

In hotels he held functions, Biwott could not be served by a waiter.

He would pick a plate randomly and proceed to serve himself, giving him the comfort that nobody has tempered with his meal.

The same applied in the Parliament canteen, where he was an MP for 28 years.

TRAVELLING

The most bizarre, however, was his preferred way of travelling. He never travelled in one car to his destination.

If he was travelling from Eldoret to Nairobi, he would change vehicles six or seven times on the way, with some of the vehicles so decrepit for any one bent to harm him to imagine that he was riding in such cars.

In Nairobi, he would not accept to use one car to meet two people or attend to two functions at separate hotels.

DERELICT TAXIS

He would normally settle for derelict taxis which would not attract attention.

During state functions, if his car was blocked, he would jump into the next vehicle and ask to be driven to his decision as his crew followed him.

At one time, he hiked a lift in then President Moi’s official limousine.

In public, he would rarely look directly into the eyes of the person who he is talking to.

This was mistaken for shyness but as security conscious people will tell you, some people read secrets from one’s eyes.