Two public funeral services will be held to celebrate the life of the late Cabinet minister and multi-party democracy crusader Kenneth Matiba.
A tentative funeral programme released by the organising committee said the services would be held on Thursday and Friday next week at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi and at Ihura Stadium in Murang’a Town, respectively.
There will also be a church service for the Matiba family and friends on Sunday at his home in Riara Ridge, Limuru, from 2pm and 4pm. The burial date has not yet been made public.
Mr Matiba died on Sunday, aged 85. He had been treated at Karen Hospital for several weeks.
“Friends and family will congregate on Wednesday, April 18, Thursday, April 19 and Friday, April 20, at the family home in Limuru,” said a statement signed by government spokesman Eric Kiraithe.
The committee, chaired by Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, said the decisions were made in consultation with the family, led by the late politician’s son, Mr Raymond Matiba.
The former Kiharu MP, who has been mourned as a champion of democracy, had been ailing ever since he suffered a stroke while at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, where he was held without trial for agitating for political pluralism. He was later released.
Besides politics, Mr Matiba was a businessman and invested in the exclusive Hillcrest Preparatory (founded by Frank Thompson) and Hillcrest Secondary School. He founded The People newspaper as a weekly in 1992 and re-launched it as a daily in 1998.
Mr Matiba would go on to sue the government for damages for the illegal detention. He was initially awarded Sh504 million compensation but went back to court because there had been a miscalculation. The amount was then increased to Sh945 million.
And as the country mulls a befitting send-off for one of the heroes of the “Second Liberation”, members of Murang’a County Assembly have proposed that Murang’a University College of Technology be renamed Kenneth Matiba University of Technology in his honour.
The members, who suspended yesterday’s House business to pay tribute to Mr Matiba, described him as a fighter who sacrificed his health and wealth for the sake of democracy.
In a motion tabled by Ithiru Ward MCA Francis Kibe, the ward reps want the county executive to initiate negotiations with the university management and the Ministry of Education to consider honouring Mr Matiba, a founding member of the institute.
“The late Kenneth Matiba was the engine behind Murang’a University College. He donated a lot of money to have the institution established. It is in order for the institution to be named after him,” Mr Kibe said.
The MCAs noted that the late Matiba was a role model in education, sports, farming and business sectors in the country. They proposed that the talks between the county and national government start immediately since there was no other national institution named after Mr Matiba.
The Kenneth Matiba Eye and Dental Hospital at Kenol Township is currently the only public facility named after the politician.
The hospital was established by the County Government in 2016 to honour Mr Matiba’s contributions and achievements in the county.
Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria said the hospital offers free services in honour of Mr Matiba for his selflessness in the fight for democracy.
“We noted that no institution or road in Kenya has been named after Kenneth Matiba despite his many contributions to democracy.
“The best way we could reward him was by setting up a facility to offer free services for residents to enjoy what Matiba fought for,” the governor told the Nation.