Businessman Karanja Kabage spent the better part of his final day on earth at a leaders’ forum which discussed the economic growth of the Mt Kenya region at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi.
In his presentation at the Friday event, the late Kabage discussed energy; telling the gathering how Kenya cannot realise its full potential unless it scales up its energy production.
He also talked about the fertiliser-making minerals found in lakes Nakuru, Naivasha and Ol Bollosat that can turn the features into goldmines if harnessed. That speech at the Central Region Economic Bloc chaired by Nyandarua governor Francis Kimemia turned out to be Mr Kabage’s last public engagement.
According to one of the attendants of the meeting, the approximately 70 leaders present dispersed shortly after 6pm.
Three hours later, Mr Kabage breathed his last at the age of 69.
Police said in a statement Saturday that a Land Cruiser VX he was driving along the Southern bypass suddenly veered off the road.
“According to witnesses, the vehicle veered off to the wrong side of the road, slowed down, appeared to be making a U-turn before slightly hitting the pavement,” read the statement from Mr Charles Wahong’o, the corporate communications director at the National Police Service.
“The Inspector-General has directed the Director of Criminal Investigations to institute immediate investigations into the probable cause of death,” read Mr Wahong’o’s statement.
Lang’ata police boss Gregory Mutiso told the Sunday Nation that officers revisited the scene of the accident Saturday morning, following another visit on Friday night. He said the scene is about half a kilometre from the Lang’ata interchange.
Asked whether Mr Kabage had had a heart attack as some people suspected, the police boss said it was too early to draw any conclusions.
“We must wait for a post-mortem. You cannot rule out a heart attack. We must wait for the post-mortem to give us a clear picture of what happened to him,” said Mr Mutiso.
He said a taxi driver was the principal source of information. Mr Wahong’o’s statement mentioned a “Good Samaritan” who assisted Mr Kabage and it was not immediately clear whether the person was also of interest to the police. News of Mr Kabage’s death shocked many, including President Uhuru Kenyatta.
President Kenyatta had had many interactions with the fallen titan who was not just a businessman but also a lawyer, a politician, a social commentator and a scholar among other titles.
Among the many engagements he had, Mr Kabage was in the Multi-Sectoral Initiative against Corruption, a group with members from the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, civil society, the religious community and the media which has been advocating for a departure from the corrupt habits in the government. He was also part of the Presidential Roundtable for Economic and Business Revival, campaigning for the shunning of counterfeit products in the market.
“It is painful to lose a great friend at a time like this. I pray that God will give the family, friends and relatives comfort and fortitude at this trying moment,” President Kenyatta said in a statement. Governor Kimemia said Mr Kabage was one of the most inspirational resource persons, focusing on the “nexus between energy and development of our bloc and the nation”.
Nuclear energy was one of Mr Kabage’s pet subjects. He recently said he was pursuing a PhD in a nuclear-related course at a local university. He had also used many forums to champion for nuclear energy, including his opinion pieces in the Sunday Nation.
On Thursday, Mr Kabage was among the thousands who attended a memorial service for former Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore at All Saints’ Cathedral.
Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o said the death of Mr Kabage, who was once his student, was “unbelievable”.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui described Mr Kabage as a man with a big heart for charity. National Security committee chairman Paul Koinange described Mr Kabage as a patriot and peacemaker.
Mr Kabage was born on September 9, 1949 at Elburgon in Nakuru County. In the last General Election, Mr Kabage was in the race to be Nakuru Senator. He lost a chance to get the Jubilee Party ticket to Susan Kihika, who would go ahead to win the seat.
After the loss, Mr Kabage withdrew his senatorial candidacy and vied for the Njoro parliamentary seat which he again lost to Charity Kathambi, the current MP.
Mr Kabage was a regular guest on the AM Live talk show on NTV and a columnist with the Sunday Nation. His articles have been running every first Sunday of the month. Elsewhere in this newspaper, read his final submission, which he sent on Tuesday.