In Summary

  • General Nkaissery had come into the Cabinet at a difficult time. His intolerance for nonsense had won him the President’s deep respect
  • It's not his wealth, his inheritance or his beauty, but the profound fact that he represented the trust and security we had lacked for many years
  • Every judge should seriously consider the sacred duty of holding the country together

“Nobody dies naturally in Kenya.”

This is what a friend told me after the sad news broke that Major-General (rtd) Joseph Nkaiserry had died.

His death caused unease. What happened, how, and why so close to the elections? 

I vividly remember Gen Nkaissery's towering figure and his serious, but also cheeky and jovial personality. 

In photos, he made ordinary people look like dwarfs; in meetings, he commanded respect and professionalism; in the field he was strong and resolute; for the civilian his military demeanour felt threatening; and for us lawyers, his firm, result-oriented behaviour appeared dictatorial.

General Nkaissery had come into the Cabinet at a difficult time. His intolerance for nonsense had won him the President’s deep respect and that of the whole government, the opposition and all Kenyans. With Nkaissery, we all felt a little bit safer.

His death, barely a month before the elections, was greeted with suspicion and mistrust. Was he poisoned? Witchcraft? Assassinated? All sorts of theories have been canvassed in place of what might simply have been a heart attack, the heart of a responsible man giving way to strenuous pressure, or any other undetected sickness.

Twitter conspirators immediately saw mischief and anyone who dismissed them was labelled naïve, ignorant or simply stupid.

What did the post-mortem examination reveal? That was my first question. Perhaps I fall under the latter category, for I find conspiracy theories extremely simplistic and superficial.

Evil spreads in disordered ways where there is no hierarchy, no concert of wills, but simply some level of evil in most hearts. Evil gets out of hand when those hearts find themselves in a position of responsibility.

SPIRITLESS PAPERS

Why are we so worried that Nkaissery has died? It's not his wealth, his inheritance or his beauty, but the profound fact that he represented the trust and security we had lacked for many years. With Nkaissery's death, our trust also died a little.

Following the death of his Interior Cabinet Secretary, President Kenyatta made a shrewd move.

Gen Nkaissery's trust could only be kept by another equally trusted man and this could only be Dr Fred Matiang’i, the firm hand that changed education and brought the national exam system back to sanity, who delivered where most remained irrelevantly dormant. 

At the background of our woes is mistrust. Cheating in Kenya has moved to a new level, where now we do not believe anything and anyone, but rumours: “I was told, it seems, I know someone who saw, I hear that...”

Most people do not realise that we have some of the best and most comprehensive election laws on earth. The Elections Act, the Election Campaign Financing Act, the Election Offences Act and the Political Parties Act, could be cited as accurate and amazingly efficient, and they are all bound together by the Constitution. The IEBC has also released step-by-step guidelines.

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