Former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka recently amused mourners when he described his late father, Mzee Peter Musyoka Mairu as a street wise operator. Daring his political opponents to challenge his new political direction, the Wiper Democratic Party supremo told those who wanted to take him head on that they will soon learn that he (Kalonzo) ‘ni mang’aa kama baba yangu’ (As streetwise as my father.
Such was the bonhomie and celebrative mood as mourners gathered at Tseikuru village in Mwingi to commemorate the life of a patriarch who left indelible mark in his long life. What he lacked in formal education, Mzee Musyoka compensated by inborn intellect and hard learned diplomacy.
His grandson Kennedy Musyoka Kalonzo jokingly told the gathering that his grandfather ‘alisomea kwa dirisha’ (got his education through the window, meaning he never attended formal schools). This did not diminish his burning desire to succeed, defying all the odds to become a successful businessman, a political mobiliser and a respectable family man.
Mzee Musyoka’s diplomatic acumen was put to the test when in 1975, as a businessman trading in livestock in the then largely lawless northern Kenya he ran afoul of bandits who took him hostage intent on robbing him of both his money and the cattle he had bought from them. He negotiated his freedom two days later by offering his abductors a packet of cigarettes a precious commodity not readily available in the bush. Talk of cigarette diplomacy! Probably where his son Kalonzo got his diplomacy acumen, serving for a long time as Kenya’s diplomat number one as minister for Foreign Affairs.
Mzee was born in Kathungu Village of the then Tseikuru/ Mivukoni Location to the late Mairu and Kamene Kamami. His late mother Teti Mairu hailed from Katse Location in present day Mumoni Division. Mzee was the third born son, after the late Mwanza Mairu, Mzee Mburu Mairu (now aged over 100 years). His followers are the late Komu Mairu and Nzisa w/o Katumbu.
He was father-in-law to:
John Mutui Kieti
Olivia Kalekye Muthui
Peninnah Muthakye Maingi
As has been said above, Mzee never went to school but was an astute mathematician, knowledge of which he acquired “through the window”- (alisomea dirishani) in Mombasa where he worked as a casual labourer at the Kilindini Port, a hands on and practical education which would put him in good stead in his business as a shopkeeper.
Mzee married his first wife, the late Sarah Malia Musyoka in the late forties and were blessed with two children:
The late Lillian Koli Mutui and
Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka.
He later married his second wife, Mama Agnes Muli Musyoka, with whom they were blessed with eleven children, namely:-
Charles Muthui Musyoka
Elizabeth Wausi Musyoka
Josphat Munuve Musyoka
Benard Maingi Musyoka
Fidelia Kanini Musyoka
Nicholas Chalo Musyoka
Johnstone Vundi Musyoka
Late Alex Vaati Musyoka
Christopher Kalamba Musyoka
Kevin Meja Musyoka
Martin Matei Musyoka
Mzee also married his third wife, Regina Kasyoka Musyoka, with whom they were blessed with Eight children namely:
Late James Nzilu Musyoka
Joseph Nzyoki Musyoka
Festus Muthami Musyoka
Grace Syombua Musyoka
Oska Kivanga Musyoka
Faith Kanoti Musyoka
His daughters-in-law are
Pauline Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka
Kalekye Charles Muthui Musyoka
Mercy Muema Musyoka
Alice Josphat Munuve Musyoka
Muthakye Benard Maingi Musyoka
Nkirote Nzilu Musyoka
Carol Nicholas Kyalo Musyoka
Nzangi Joseph Nzyoki Musyoka
Mercy Festus Muthami Musyoka
Ann Johnstone Vundi Musyoka
Catherine Oska Kivanga Musyoka
Milan Kevin Meja Musyoka
Christine Mutui, Kennedy Musyoka Kalonzo, Agnes Muthui, Maureen Muema; are among 39 grandchildren and several great grandchildren.
Mzee started the business of buying and selling hides and skins, and later was able to buy a second-hand bus which he named “Ngalange Bus Service” plying the Kibwezi- Usueni route and was in partnership with the late councilor Mzee John Ngui Ndana. After a few years, the bus company collapsed and mzee went hiding from his creditors, most whom were based in Thika. Mzee by now, an experienced risk taker started his retail shop in Tseikuru market in the early sixties after renting the premises owned by The Mwamanzi (Mohamed) family; this he did in partnership with the late Mzee Muthangya Kithunga and the late Mbiti Mue.
He enjoyed excellent business relationship with prominent business people in Kitui including, the late Mzee Kyambati Marete, Musya Ngunza, Mzee Salim Ahamed Taib, Ahamed Talib Mahdi, Ahamed Abubakar Bajaber Swaleh Abubakar Bajaber.
He was also an experienced livestock dealer and would buy cattle in the nearby markets, like Kina, in Isiolo, Garissa and Ishiara
Mzee was baptized, Peter Musyoka on the 2nd May 2015 at Faith Baptist Church, Tseikuru. After accepting Christ as his savior, he remained an active member of the congregation until he was taken ill.
HIS SOCIAL LIFE
Mzee enjoyed exercising his political rights and was involved in the political agitation for our country’s independence. He was a strong supporter of the late Paul Ngei and his political party (APP) during the first hotly contested elections involving KANU, KADU and APP.
During the general elections of 1974, when teachers country-wide were allowed to contest as candidates, Mzee formed a political lobby group nicknamed “The black September Movement”. He formed this group with his long time friend Mwalimu Francis Mwangangi in order to elect as Councillor Mwalimu Charles Nguli. They were joined in this effort by his son-in-Law John Mutui Kieti. Councillor Charles Nguli won with a landslide majority.
His interest and active participation in politics proved a great asset when his son, Stephen Kalonzo ran for election as Member of Parliament for Kitui North in 1983 and in subsequent elections. His last major political event was in 2017, when he attended as an observer the delegates conference of Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya (WDM-K). His son was endorsed as the party’s Presidential flag bearer. When he was introduced, he was given a standing ovation.
He strongly believed in the unity of our country and looked forward to the day when our country would experience detribalized campaigns and leadership.
Our father has enjoyed excellent health until early this year when he was diagonized with lung cancer. He has been receiving good medical care at the Nairobi Hospital. He slept in the early hours of Sunday 28th October, 2018. The family are grateful for the staff and doctors at the Nairobi Hospital for all the help extended to our late father. Dr. Martin Wanyoike led a team of doctors while Dr Farouk Chaudry has been mzee’s physician over a longer period.
Koma na Muuo Nau