Former First Lady Lucy Kibaki, who died today, lived her life well enough to define the exact word. An alumnus of Alliance Girls High school, a trained teacher and daughter to a reverent vividly defines the administrative lady Kenyans knew of, especially in her days as the first Lady.
She may not have known that she was destined to greatness even as they tied the knot with Mwai Kibaki in 1962 before he became the most powerful man in Kenya between 2002 and 2013 thereby making Lucy Kibaki who she was between those years.
While many people would remember the notably bad and weird things Mama Lucy did, including slapping an unnamed Master of ceremonies for calling her Lucy Wambui, there are other interesting, often beautiful things she did.
A strong supporter of disadvantaged and disabled people, Mama Lucy Kibaki, until her untimely death, chaired the organisation of 40 African first Ladies against HIV/Aids. A true example of a human heart hidden behind the administrative looks of the fallen Mama Lucy.
She also chaired the Kenya Association of Girl Guides, an organisation offering girls opportunity to showcase their talents in scouting and first aid. It serves more than 120,805 members and was founded in 1920; the girls-only organization became a full member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
Interestingly, Mama Lucy Kibaki will be remembered for often making news headlines with things she simply did and could not tolerate, including being filmed by a mere cameraman, KTN’s Derrick Otieno, as she stormed Nation Centre to protest negative coverage about her family. Upon seeing the photojournalist, she reportedly grabbed him and slapped him for lack of common courtesy. The first time ever, a public figure assaulted a journalist in Kenyan history.
“After she stormed the newsroom, I rushed to take pictures and she furiously asked: ‘What are you doing? Are you taking pictures? Stop,’ then she slapped me, grabbed me, and we started to struggle as she wanted to take my camera,” Derrick said after the May 4, 2005 incident.
As a typical teacher, a character who did not entertain mix-ups, Mama Lucy once made her husband, former President Mwai Kibaki to convene a press conference and declare himself monogamous at a time when one Wambui was the talk of town. Indeed, Mama Lucy Kibaki succeeded, objectively, as Kibaki disowned any other woman but her.
In May 2005, Lucy Kibaki dramatically disrupted a farewell party at the Nairobi home of outgoing World Bank country director Makhtar Diop on Friday night. An angry Mrs Kibaki invaded the house demanding that the loud music be switched off as it was disturbing her peace.
As Kenyans mourn her sudden demise, Mama Lucy will be remembered with the hospital after her name, Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital, in Umoja, Nairobi. The institution, despite making news for averagely all the wrong reasons, has played a huge role in decentralising and expanding health services across Nairobi County, thereby reducing pressure on Kenyatta National Hospital.
Lucy Kibaki had been out of public limelight since 2010, leading to speculations about her health and life until she was recently admitted to Nairobi Hospital, then transferred to Bupa Cromwell, London where she passed on.