Getting an interview with former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa was as complicated as the man’s brief tenure as minister, a post he held for a year and 14 days.
After several attempts, some through acquaintances, Mr Echesa finally called on Saturday last week inviting the Sunday Nation to his rural home in Shibale, a once bustling township whose fortunes have dipped considerably since Mumias Sugar Company descended into financial problems more than a decade ago.
His plan for the day included attending the funeral “of one of my greatest supporters”. “If it is convenient, you can join me at the service. We can sit and talk after the burial,” he said, more as a command than a request.
We arrived at Shibale Primary School around 12.30pm. The school was the venue of the funeral service for Ms Elizabeth Omusula, a neighbour.
The school, a stone's throw away from Mr Echesa’s home, is about a kilometre from the factory on the Mumias-Bungoma road.
Interestingly, there was scent for State power when we arrived. Even in this home, a red carpet had been laid out. About seven vehicles were in the compound.
There was a sleek maroon Mercedes Benz and a grey Range Rover Vogue, from which the red carpet originated and snaked its way to the casket and into the tents where the VIP mourners were seated.
On arrival, we didn’t give the carpet much thought. Our assumption, and which was eventually proved wrong, was that it was all part of the tradition of the church whose member had died.
Or maybe it was the family’s elaborate way of giving a loved one a dignified send-off.
From the casket, the carpet led directly to where Mr Echesa sat. He sat on an armchair that was elevated compared to the ones the other VIPs had.
On his right, between him and the next person, was a stool, with water bottles, meticulously placed for his use.
On his left was former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, who like the rest in the tent, had to make do with plastic chairs.
Mr Echesa spoke little, throughout the mass, cutting an image of a man who appeared to follow the proceedings, only occasionally turning to the left to whisper into Dr Khalwale’s ear.
Once the political speeches started, we learnt there was protocol that was to be followed.
Speakers, including Dr Khalwale, sang endless praises to only one person they described as waziri (minister), as they blamed Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga “for orchestrating Mr Echesa’s dismissal from the Cabinet”.
It was the former Kakamega senator who invited Mr Echesa to speak.
And in a typical big man style, Mr Echesa’s personal orderlies shoved in his side a customised microphone stand.
The former Sports CS dismissed reports that he is not or part of government. “Those who think I am not in government are dreaming,” he thundered.
“I am in Jubilee, the party that formed the government. I contested the Mumias West seat on a Jubilee ticket. I know I lost but Jubilee went ahead to form the government. That means I am part of the government.”
Even outside the Cabinet, Mr Echesa can’t imagine life without power. Like a cub, he has smelt the scent of fresh blood and he wants more State power.
During the interview at the Garden Park Hotel in Mumias, Mr Echesa insisted that he must maintain the life of a Cabinet Secretary “just to show my detractors that I may be down but not out”.
“Some people would like to see me die politically,” he said. “I have to be smart. Coming out in a torn shirt will give the media a chance to hasten my political death.
And in a typical Echesa fashion, he also got time to brag about his Range Rover. “There are only two of the kind in Kenya. God loves me,” he tells us.