Lucas Marang'a

A man at 40

Last Day

September 13th was Uhuru’s last day in office. On that Tuesday, he transitioned from president Uhuru to former president. At least he will retain the title of Your Excellency even while in retirement. That’s what the presidency and golf have in common. I still feel good when referred to as captain or chairman long after my time in office. I think I performed well and that’s comforting when you leave office. Regrets and failures haunt us when we realise we slept on the job or that we would have done better. I wonder if our immediate past president feels that way. To his credit, there’s a lot he did for Kenya. Though when in public service the masses focus on what’s not working. When a leader does well we rarely give credit because we feel hio ni kazi yake. Why should we be celebrating what we are paying you to do? No wonder it’s lonely at the top.

I watched the entire ceremony at Kasarani onTV. I was particularly keen on seeing Uhuru’s body language and interaction with his successor, our new president, William Ruto. Handing over power is hugely significant for the country and the presidents too (both the outgoing and the incoming). Ruto and Uhuru fell out a few years back and so watching their interaction last week was a sign of maturity in our African democracy. Peace prevailed and I believe that was largely due to the decorum both sides of the political divide exhibited.

I wondered if that last day in office for Uhuru was as defining as the first day in 2013. I find that how we finish is more profound than how we start. Even the Good Book says the end of a matter is better than the beginning. I feel Uhuru started picking up speed in the second term of his presidency. Maybe he realized time was moving fast and he will soon be leaving the house on the hill.

And that is what I hope President Ruto will be aware of from these early days. Ten years (assuming he wins another term in 2027) is not as long as it looks or feels. I hope he will create the ideal picture of his last day in office, tattoo it on his mind and let it guide his daily activities. And may that be the modus operandi of all our new leaders coming into office. Such an outlook creates a positive urgency to maximise the time and opportunities we have. None of us is exempt from this counsel because leadership is the deployment of self into our circumstances. I like that definition which I heard from Benjamin Kamoye.

Even some leadership roles that have no time or term limit require us to imagine our last day. Parenting for instance has no expiry date. My dad passed away last year but I still feel his parenting on me. I was proud to be his son even as he lay on that bed in ICU. He had done the best he knew how with his life and I felt fortunate that a lot of his efforts were to make my life (and our family) better. I feel he passed over the instruments of parenting to me when I became a dad and all I had to do was apply his teachings as I sought others, and driven by the same motivation he had for his kids.

Another dynamic in the transition we have just had in Kenya is that Uhuru handed over to the winner he didn’t prefer. That brings in extra emotions of disappointment but that’s just the way of democracy. Reminds me of when Obama had to hand over power to Trump. In both scenarios, the outgoing presidents are allowed to put on a fake smile on their last day. But if they led well and benefited their country and people then their deeds will do the smiling on that day and beyond. I feel we will now begin to appreciate Uhuru more as he’s left office. In the same way, we continue to sing Kibaki’s praises long after he left office and even passed on. I’m a beneficiary of his legacy. Every time I drive on good roads especially out of town to my photo safaris my heart and car thank him. I think Uhuru’s legacy will be similar because he extended infrastructure too. Seems he and Kibaki have a thing for tarmac hehe.

We wish our retired president peace and rejuvenation as he goes home. Leading forty million wajuaji Kenyans is no mean feat. It takes divine intervention to do that. You did the best you knew how sir. As for our new hustler president (who was my tent customer by the way), welcome to the hot seat. Lead us well and keep Kenya before any other interest that may come your way. I will repeat to you what I told Uhuru in march 2019. We are here to help you.

And folks, whatever position you occupy now, create a picture of success of how you would like your last day there to look like, glue it to your sub-conscience and let it guide your daily undertakings. With that outlook then we will be sad to see you go when the end comes because we will miss you and the value you created.





Friday, September 23, 2022 | Leadership, Reflections |

One thought on “Last Day”

  1. MG says:

    This right here is my take away “leadership is the deployment of self into our circumstances.” Thank you for this poignant reminder.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *