Former Coast kingpins dismiss new politicians - Daily Nation

Former Coast kingpins dismiss new politicians

Sunday May 20 2018

 Noah Katana Ngala,  Sophy Kadzo

Former Ganze MP Noah Katana Ngala (left) is consoled by Kenyan Ambassador to Zambia Sophy Kadzo during the burial of his brother Majimbo Ngala in Vishakani village on March 27,2016. Mr Ngala served as MP for 15 years rising from an assistant minister to minister who served in various ministries. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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In their heyday, they called the shots at the Coast as they had then President Moi’s ear. Exploiting their closeness to power, they cut deals including securing plum appointments for their proteges.

But now, old and frail, they have taken a low profile, some enjoying their sunset years running their business empires while others have opted out of politics altogether.

Former powerful Kanu kingpin Rashid Mohamed Sajjad left the country and is now living in Dubai. At the height of Moi rule, Mr Sajjad, a wealthy politician, served as chairman of Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and was at one time nominated to Parliament.


Mr Mohammed Zubedi, a tycoon with vast business interests in Mombasa and Nairobi, served in the first East African Legislative Assembly from 2001 to 2006 in Arusha, Tanzania.

A soft spoken Zubedi says life outside politics has been fine for him, but adds that he played some background role in the 2017 election, helping to tilt Lamu for Jubilee.

He says even now he can’t hesitate to play a role. Mr Zubedi praises the recent handshake between President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga saying it eased the tension that was quickly engulfing the country.

“I was happy after the handshake and I said to myself at least in my sunset years we can enjoy peace,” he said.

He backs the call for Coast unity saying it is long overdue.


Another of Mr Moi’s confidants in the Coast region was Noah Katana Ngala, son of the late Ronald Ngala, one of the first crop of the politicians who birthed Kenya’s independence.

Mr Ngala served as Ganze MP for 15 years rising from an assistant minister to minister who served in various ministries.

He has retired to farming and  “small businesses” to eke out a living. He is also the current chairman of the Kenya National Library.

When he appeared at the burial of former Ganze MP Joseph Kingi at Bamba two weeks ago, Mr Ngala blamed the Narc wave for his defeat in 2002.

“Had it not been for the Narc wave, I would still have retained my seat,” he said, without explaining why he has not made a come-back long after Narc left the scene.


Mr Ngala was all praise for former President Moi whom he said held his hand while he was inexperienced and lifted him through ranks to become one of his senior ministers.

Mr Ngala was one of Kanu’s vice-chairmen and was one of those who had been touted to succeed President Moi.

Former Kisauni MP Said Hemed who served between 1974 and 2002, lacks a kind word in describing today’s politics saying it is full of chaos, lies and incitement. He says he is no longer in active politics because “today’s is too chaotic.”

“It is not like in our days. I am relaxing at home because I don’t like the game anymore,” Mzee Hemed said.

Besides being Kisauni MP for several years, he also served at the then Mombasa Municipal Council as deputy mayor. “At one time I was a government Chief Whip and later went on to serve as Kenyan ambassador to Saudi Arabia,” he said.


Mzee Hemed says those who worked under President Moi’s regime were mature politicians who avoided sideshows and chaos.

Former Kenya’s ambassador to India, Francis Baya, was also among the leaders who had Mr Moi’s ear, especially when he served as the Coast Provincial Commissioner.

Mr Baya was later elected to serve as Ganze MP. Now retired from politics, he is currently concentrating on farming and other businesses. He is also the chairman of the Kenya Literature Bureau (KLB).

Mtana Lewa was the first MP for Bahari (1988-1992). 

He says today’s politics is full of childish behaviour and corruption. He is now a farmer at his home region of Dzitsoni in Kilifi.

One of his proud achievements as MP is the creation of Bahari Girls Secondary school, now a national school.


“I started Bahari Girls from the scratch. It was a forest and I was given that land by the owners, Kilifi Plantation. I built it to be what it is today.”

The former legislator said serving as an MP was a big task because there were not many perks now any kitty, unlike today where when there are “perks that flood an MP’s pocket.”

“Everything touching on development depended on the MP’s salary. There was nothing like the Constituency Development Fund, bursaries and other funds. We were running up and down for the public good but there was no benefits,” Dr Lewa said.

Unlike many Coast kingpins, Dr Lewa ditched Moi for the opposition at the onset of multiparty politics.


“Mzee Moi was dictating everything. You could not speak against him. That is why I had to quit immediately at the onset of after multiparty.”

He says he does not regret opposing Moi even though he suffered for his acts.

Another Bahari luminary, John Mumba, has retreated to his farm at Kanamai, Kilifi County.  He grows cashew nuts and coconut.

“I still follow politics but there is a big difference in how we practised the trade in our days,” he said.


Former Likoni MP Suleiman Shakombo, who served the constituency for two consecutive terms, says politics then was pegged on assisting the people, unlike today when “politics is dictated by greed and corruption.”

The former Shirikisho Party of Kenya leader now oversees his export businesses. “I now specialise in artefacts,” he said.

“My relationship with Mzee Moi was nice because I had already worked in his administration as a DC in Rift Valley,” he said.