Written by Leonard Wamalwa
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As the country marks the eighth anniversary of the late vice president Michael Wamalwa Kijana today (Tuesday), memories are fresh in the minds of many people who recall him and his brilliant performances in different aspects of life.
Born 67 years ago to the late Senator William Wamalwa of Baengele clan and Esther Nekesa of the Batukwika clan, Wamalwa a first born emerged to be one of the brightest children of his time.
Brought up in the hands of his paternal grand father’s home in Abraham wekesa Ngeywo in Kamukuywa, Wamalwa was enrolled at Sosio primary school in 1953 where he covered three classes in one year because of his genius performance.
According to his paternal uncle Eliud Nolasco Wafula Masika who grew up with him as an age mate, the late heroic politician attended classes one to three in the same year of 1953 before he joined class four where he sat for his Common Entrance Examination-CEE the following year 1954 in the same school.
Speaking to West FM in his home in Maili Saba along the Kitale-Kapenguria road Masika said that Wamalwa later joined class five at Chesamisi Intermediate School and later to St Joseph’s Catholic Intermediate and Boarding School where he sat for his Kenya African Primary Examination-KAPE and passed with flying colors in the 1958 examinations.
The young Wamalwa or Mike as he is said to have been referred to by many of his friends and relatives was then admitted at Chewoyet High school in West Pokot where he sat for his O - level exams and scored straight As in all the subjects he sat for in the examination of 1962 and set a record that has never been broken to date.
Wamalwa a good debater, football captain and troop scout leader who relentlessly continued to show his genius performances in academics joined Strathmore College in Nairobi for his Advanced or rather A-Level studies
The late Wamalwa who at his death was the chairman of Ford Kenya political party also maintained his unprecedented standards of performance at Strathmore and was admitted at Kings College University in the United Kingdom where he studied his first degree and later on took his masters degree at Oxford University before coming back in the country in 1969.
Earlier on Wamalwa had earned himself a chance to go to the United States for a tour after emerging the best student in national composition writing competition in 1963.
Wamalwa Kijana as he was famously known was taken through the Bukusu way of rite of passage by facing the knife in 1954 as Omunyange Number 4 at the age of ten years.
On coming back from his studies in Britain in 1969 Wamalwa got the second general elections of an independent Kenya being held in which his father a former Chief of Trans Nzoia was to defend his Kitale West seat against his rival Wafula Wabuge.
According to Mzee Masika who is now the elderly among the surviving paternal uncles of Wamalwa, senator Wamalwa lost the seat to Wabuge who received support from the then Kitale East member of Parliament Henry Masinde Muliro who later on became the political mentor of the junior Wamalwa.
In the 1974 general elections the family and clan elders reached a consensus and advised senior Wamalwa not to vie for the seat so that he leaves it to his son Mike who had been received with aplomb with his brightness and vibrant.
Michael Wamalwa Kijana hence had his first opportunity to test the politics of this country in 1974 though he still lost to his father’s rival Wafula Wabuge who is said to have received moral support again from Muliro.
“During the last rally of the campaigns in Kenyatta stadium, Mzee Masinde Muliro told the crowd that their son Wamalwa was a sharp and bright young man who had taken the area by storm and liked by many people but challenged them if they were ready to lose him at that tender age because he could be killed along political lines,” recalls Mzee Masika a farmer in Trans Nzoia.
The old man who resembles the late VP recalled that Muliro’s technical statement to the electorate at the eleventh hour cost Wamalwa the seat that year and had to wait till 1979 elections when he captured the seat for the first time and held it till his untimely death in 2003 as the eighth Vice President of independent Kenya.
However Mzee Masika (inset) revealed that Wamalwa stayed out of parliament for a short stint from 1989 to 1992 after Wabuge petitioned his election of 1988 and brought in the attention of president Moi who is said to have persuaded him to step aside for Wabuge after realizing that he was still too smart for the elderly opponent if they went in for a by-election.
The wise and peace loving Wamalwa later came back in a different style as a staunch opponent president Moi and his leadership under the Kenya African National Union-KANU party as the country ushered in the multi party system of governance after a section of politicians agitated for the repeal of section 2A of the then constitution.
In his own words Wamalwa’s uncle described him as a generous person, God fearing who was fond of reading the Catholic Rosary most of his time, a peace maker and friendly and welcoming especially to the poor and less fortunate in the society.
“Wamalwa was such a generous person who could give out all he had to the needy and left nothing for himself. He loved peace such that some of his political opponents could insult him but he would behave as if he had heard nothing and let everything pass without him raising a word and thus he was of exemplary behavior that should be emulated by other leaders,” noted Masika.
Some of Wamalwa's photos found hanged on the wall in Masika's house in Maili Saba Trans Nzoia county.
The old man further took the opportunity to appeal to the people coming to be part of the celebrations to observe peace and unity as an honor to the departed hero by avoiding divisive politics based on tribal or political parties not to provoke his spirits.
“I would like to appeal to those coming to join us in this memorable ceremony to maintain peace and avoid political speeches and we urge whoever wants to talk politics to shelve it and talk it elsewhere but not in today’s memorial ceremony.
The ceremony that is expected to be attended by people from all walks of life including senior government leaders led by finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta who is also deputy prime minister will be held at the late Wamalwa’s home in Milimani area of Kitale town.
The dignitaries shall first officially open the Wamalwa Kijana Memorial secondary school in the neighboring Shimo La Tewa area where they are also expected to conduct a fundraiser for the school to expand its infrastructure including putting up of classrooms and the administration block.
Earlier on Wamalwa’s younger brothers Robert Wamalwa and Caussius Wamalwa with the school principal Cleophas Ngweywo had told journalists that all was set for the occasion at the two venues.
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