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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gor Sunguh (Kenya Betrayed)

This morning, Chairman Sunguh did not feel like waking up at all.

He was mad at himself - mad at Moi - mad at Biwott - mad at Parliament - and strangely, he was mad at life in general. Of all the people in Parliament that fate could have placed this enormous responsibility on, why did it choose him?

He was bothered.

But then his wife - as normal the first to wake up - tapped him on the shoulder with a smile. She said, "Don't worry about last night."

"I am scared," he whispered.

She pushed away the comforter, "If I told you, I had slept this past night, I would be lying. I have been thinking."

He turned, "About what ?"

"This enormous responsibility. I have been wondering why God placed you in the middle of it."

He looked at her absently.

"Maybe the Lord wants the world finally to know who killed Dr. Ouko and why. Maybe it is the last best chance this nation has to deliver justice to those who robbed Kenya and Africa of one of the best brains this continent has ever produced."

Sunguh came up on his elbow ..... sat next to her, "So you really think, God has anything to do with this?"

She smiled at him, "No doubt."

"Then how do you explain the threats? The intimidation? The letter? How could God sanction this and subject my family to this kind of fear?"

She took his hand and gave it a light squeeze, "All I know is that if God was not in this, you could have been dead by now. You are up against devious forces, against one of the most dangerous creatures in the world."

"You mean Nicholas Biwott?"

She nodded, "Yes. And don't ever underestimate him."

"I won't".

"Even so, I want you to be focused. I want you to make your family proud. To make our Community proud. To make Kenya proud." She kissed his cheek, "Go out there and make Dr. Ouko have the last laugh."

"What if they harm us?" he asked.

She got up, "You would rather face harm and walk away with your dignity than live permanently with the scar of betrayal. I admit, I am scared. But I have to encourage you to go out there and do the right thing. God expects nothing less."

That got him up. He walked to the bathroom and showered. He had a hurried breakfast. An hour later, he was in his office.

***

On the other side of the city, Biwott was having breakfast at the New Stanley Hotel. He was aware that this was the day Christabel was going to make her appearance in front of the Committee.

Because he wanted to try to find out what would be said at this much-anticipated session, he decided to call Chairman Sunguh.

On a third ring, there was a reply, "Hello?"

"It's Nicholas Biwott."

Chairman Sunguh was baffled, "What do you want?"

"What I want is not important - what is important is what you want."

"And what would that be ?"

Biwott laughed. He drew a deep breath, then exhaled sharply. Finally, he said, "I take it, you want to live?"

"Are you threatening me?"

"I take it, you want your family to be safe?"

"Is that another threat?"

"I take it, you want to protect your property?"

"Is this intimidation?"

Biwott whispered, "I do not care what the hell you think this is. If you want to keep things safe and normal around you, don't ask Christabel Ouko anything beyond what she has already said before."

....... you would rather face harm and walk away with your dignity ......

"Chairman Sunguh, did you hear me?" Biwott asked - mad that the man was ignoring him, "Are you still there?"

.........than live permanently with the scar of betrayal ........

.... of betrayal .....

betrayal ......

"Chairman Sunguh?"

Sunguh stood up. He pulled the phone to this mouth, his hand shaking, then he barked, "Go to hell, Nicholas Biwott. I will do what is right." ........Click.

***

Chairman Sunguh sat down, trembling with unalloyed rage. .....how dumb is this guy? ...... Then he grabbed his briefcase, threw on his coat and was about to walk out of the office when his phone rang.

Thinking it was Nick again, he picked it up and said, "I do not want your shit anymore, Nicholas Biwott."

My breath stopped for a moment, then I said, "It's me, Chairman Sunguh, Marianne."

"Oh, I am sorry."

I hesitated - unsure that to make out of Chairman Sunguh's outburst, I said, "Is Biwott there with you?"

"No, he just called."

"I know, it is none of my business, but can you tell me what he wants?"

Chairman Sunguh rubbed the handle on his briefcase with his thumb, "I would love to tell you, but it would be unprofessional. I can only say this much - it is not about you that he called."

"Christabel?"

Sunguh's eyebrows went up in surprise - how could I have guess that - then he asked, "Well, what can I do for you?"

"It is only a couple of days till I come to Nairobi. I would like to know which arrangements you have made for my security."

"We have not finalized the details yet." he told me.

That was my cue, "Can I make a suggestion?"

"What is it?"

"My son-in-law is willing to accompany me. He is a licensed security man with the German Special Forces. If you could approve of it, he would come with me."

"Taking charge of your security here?"

"Yes."

"How will he work with the security on our side?"

"He has done similar jobs in other countries. That's his profession to protect endangered persons, mainly high-profile German politicians when they travel abroad. But if you mean specifically Nairobi, that's what I want you to figure out," I said, "If it is feasible for him to come, I would feel a lot more comfortable having him around."

"Does he realize how dangerous it may be out here?"

"He does."

"Does he know, he could get killed?"

"He does."

"And he would still risk?"

I cleared my throat, "He is doing it for me - and for my daughter."

"Then look, I will pass your request to the Committee and the CID and then get back to you. I am sure, there will be no problem."

"Thank you, Chairman Sunguh ....... and good luck today."


****************************************************************




Christabel Ouko was ready. All the preparations she needed were in place. Last night, she had gone through all the files, the press clippings and the pictures related to her husband's disappearance and subsequent murder.

That was all she had needed.

At 9:30 a.m., her lawyer, a hard-hitting criminal defence attorney, appeared at her gate. He was in a silver Toyota Land Cruiser. The truck had tinted windows, a power sunroof and some other security outfit installed on his request before the car was delivered. It was rumoured that this lawyer was the only one in the country having this special model.

He parked at the gate and hooted twice.

Christabel ran out.

Within minutes, they were gone.

***


At this office, Moi's attorney, Mutula Kilonzo, thought about the former Head of State's proposal which he had issued just before their meeting finished the day before......... arrange for a meeting with Marianne ......

Was Moi really seriously intending to meet Marianne? It sounded so unwise ..... and also impractical.

How in the world was he going to do it? And would she agree?

Realizing that there was no other way than to find out from myself, he dialed my number. When I answered, he hit it on, "We need to talk!"

I was in the middle of doing some laundry, so I had to shut the door first to keep out the sound of the washing machine, then I said, "It's you, Mr. Kilonzo? What do you want?"

Surprised he said, "So to recognize my voice?"

"That's because I have heard it many times," I said, "All right, what is it about?"

"My client wants to to meet you when you come down here."

"Moi?"

"Yes."

"That's not going to be possible," I replied.

"I will personally arrange it."

I sat down and after a short while I told him, "Look, I am coming in as a guest of the Committee. If anything must be arranged, it will therefore have to be through Chairman Sunguh. And given how worried he is about my security, I doubt he will let a meeting happen between Moi and me."

"You could request it." he suggested.

And when I did not respond immediately, he continued, "You can say, you want to have Moi clarify some issues from the past, even private ones."

I had to laugh, this was typical Kilonzo, "Very clever idea..... anyway, I would definitely love to meet Moi - have him to answer some questions I have kept inside for a long time. But I cannot request the meeting. You would have to do it. And if Chairman Sunguh agrees on it, I will accept."

"We will work it out," he promised, "And one more thing ..... I hope, you won't broaden the scope of your testimony."

"What do you mean with that?" I asked.

"In the past, you have only spoken about the business angle of this case, tied Dr. Ouko's death to the Molasses Plant .... are you going to do the same this time around?"

I tried to stay calm and said, "I cannot tell you that I will say - neither can I tell you what I will do."

"But you can limited your testimony," he insisted.

Again I had to control my anger and replied, "Don't you think, it is time for everything to come out? I do not see what Moi has to fear ......... after all, he is no longer in power..... so the moment to talk has finally come."

"So you have really decided to talk and say everything?"

And when I did not answer, the added, "Then look, if you are coming to talk, I want to let you know that I will have to mount a spirited defense of my client. We will attack your character, your credibility and your morals. We will make sure when you leave Kenya that nobody will ever believe anything coming out of your mouth again. I am sorry, but that's what my client will ask me to do ......"

I understood - it was not his personal opinion - but more than Moi I heard Biwott talk through this ........ my old enemy had started the war already ..................

***

After finishing his phone call, Kilonzo sat down at his desk ......was Marianne coming to finally reveal everything? ......

He stood up, eyed the phone oddly, then dialed Kabarnet Gardens. When Moi answered, he said, "Bad news!"

Cough, "How bad?"

"She won't do the meeting with you unless Chairman Sunguh agrees. So it will not be possible to do it secretly. She insists that it has to be okayed before by the Committee."

"Then talk to the Chairman."

"I will do that ..... but that's not the only reason why I called you."

"What else?"

"Marianne is coming to talk ......"


******************************************************************************


Christabel and her high-flying attorney arrived at the Parliament Buildings to a round of flash and clicks. There was a huge scramble by the Press to get the best view of her.

It had been years since the public had seen her, so the journalists knew that the pictures and the description of her they ended up putting in their respective outlets, were going to matter.

And because it had been announced that she would be here, many Nairobi residents - eager to catch a glimpse of her - had come also out in droves.

Suddenly, here she was.

As stately as ever.

Her hair was meticulously palmed. It looked shiny, and it felt flat on her head like is was painted there. Her eyes remained as sharp as they were before the tragedy. She wore a flowing African Kitenge .... it added to the sense of honor and dignity she had cultivated ever since the death of her beloved husband.

Noticing the curious public, she lifted her right hand and waved.

People waved back ..... screamed her name ..... and then that of Bob.

Right there she knew, Kenyans had not forgotten him. He was still loved. It made her proud. Gave her energy.

As she started her slow walk into the Parliament Building, shielded by a beehive of security personnel, she hoped she would have the courage to face the Committee. She still could not understand why they had summoned her. She had said all there was to say in the previous investigations.

She had also informed Chairman Sunguh that the men who killed her husband remained just as dangerous - that they could still kill her too.

But he had not listened.

She walked into the building, holding her attorney's hand, and headed straight to the Old Chambers where Chairman Sunguh together with all other Committee members were waiting.

When they saw her, they stood up.

She was immediately led to her seat ... handed the Bible. Within minutes, she was ready.

She went on to recount the events as she could recall them. She told the Committee how Bob had sent her back to Nairobi from Koru, insisting he needed some time on his own since he had to work on some papers which he had brought from Nairobi and some others which Marianne had sent to him directly to Kisumu.

She revealed how uneasy she was with the way things had played out between Bob and Nicholas Biwott in the last couple of years.

She told them that her husband had also spoken about the problems created by Nicholas Biwott and that he feared not only for himself but also for her and the children with a friend - Marianne Briner-Mattern - whom they both had trusted and who was like family to them.

"Mrs. Ouko, can you recall what happened the day after it was announced that Dr. Ouko's body had been discovered at Got Alia ?" Chairman Sunguh asked.

Before she could reply, Mutula Kilonzo got up raising an objection, "That was fifteen years ago, Chairman. Do you really expect her to remember that deep in time?"

"Let the Committee hear what she can remember," the Chairman insisted.

"Even if it is speculation?" Kilonzo pressed.

Chairman Sunguh brought down the gravel, "You may proceed, Mrs. Ouko."

"A lot has happened that day...... I cannot recall everything. But I can remember vividly that President Moi came to Loresho to console my family."

She remembered the picture ...... Moi's arms around her ...... tens of dignitaries in her living room ..... hundreds of mourners in her compound ....... her children looking dazed ......

"Mrs. Ouko?"

"I can remember seeing Nicholas Biwott and wondering what he was doing in my house."

"Let's back up a little," one of the female members of the Committee said. "Can you recall when you first had an inkling your husband was dead?"

Christabel nodded, "The very night he died."

Now Biwott's attorney, normally quiet throughout the proceedings, got up and asked, "What night are you talking about?"

She replied, "February 13, 1990........... and what I have always found strange is that only person has ever mentioned that date with precision."

She found the attorney's eyes and held, "Not even Supt. Troon and the forensic expert of Scotland Yard could say the exact date Bob died .................. but that one person did!"

Biwott's attorney leaned forward, "So what you are saying is that all you had was an inkling? Don't you think, your inkling might be ...... wrong?"

She shook her head, "I loved my husband. We were soul-mates. The minute he died, I felt it. Even when statements were coming from the KBC that he had gone to Gambia, left the country, I never bought the crap." She wiped a tear, "I knew, my husband was dead."

"Were you fearful?" Chairman Sunguh asked.

"I am still fearful."

"Why?"

"Because my husband's killers are still alive. And I don't have to tell you how many witnesses have died. You will recall that one of the killers said ...... only dead people don't talk ....."

Chairman Sunguh then said, "Mrs. Ouko, I appreciate your coming before this Committee. Before you leave, I would like to ask you pointedly - do you know who killed your husband?"

She looked down,......everybody knows who killed Bob ...... Gicheru as good as dropped their names ...... Supt. Troon from Scotland Yard pointed us in their direction ....... Marianne has trumpeted for years who she believes the killers are ............... I am sure that all of you in this Committee exactly know who did it and why.........

"Mrs. Ouko?"

She looked up, "We all know who killed Dr. Ouko."

***

As soon as Christabel Ouko wound up her testimony, she stood up. She shook hands with Chairman Sunguh, then whispered in his ear, "Be very careful!"

On that note, she left.

***

After the long day, Chairman Sunguh was ready to bring the Committee's business to a close, but before doing so, he informed the members that there was one more issue to handle.

He quietly told them, "The former Head of State wants to meet Mrs. Marianne Briner-Mattern in private if this Committee can okay it."

Mutula Kilonzo took it from there, "My office stands ready to facilitate the process. And let is be known that both parties are interested in this meeting."

"So ...... there it is, Ladies and Gentlemen, what do we do?"

They voted for it.

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