Joseph Karimi may have quietly slipped away from public life since he retired and died two weeks ago. Maybe that General Mathenge story scar was too much to bear. But, surely, this is a man Kenyans should remember.
He may have kept away from the public limelight — I guess those old-fashioned journalists had never heard of the word ‘commentator’ that would have made them remain relevant on TV channels — but he spent his last days doing what any self-respecting author would do: write.
So, when I read his last book, Dedan Kimathi: The Whole Story, I vividly recalled reading a copy of The Kenyatta Succession (co-authored with Philip Ochieng) in 1996.
As a student of history then, The Kenyatta Succession was one of those books that revealed what the history books I was reading in class weren’t saying. Here was a story that openly talked about plots and counterplots in government that one could only associate with spy or war films.
Although the 1990s were the days of agitation against Moi and Kanu, here was also a book that offered a different context — for those of us who were too young in the 1970s to understand the power play — to the politics that we knew through the media and public rallies. One started to sense that we weren’t necessarily a ‘peace-loving and united country’, dedicated to follow Nyayo and Kanu forever.
Even today, hardly do we hear of such things as you will read in The Kenyatta Succession. Indeed, there is little chance that a Kenyan will ever write a book with the weight of revelation like Karimi and Ochieng did…..