A 62-year-old man has come out to claim that the late former President Mwai Kibaki, who passed away last month aged 90, was his biological father.
Jacob Ochola Mwai says he was born in Nairobi’s Kaloleni estate in 1960 and grew up not knowing that Kibaki was his father until his mother made the disclosure in 1982, a year after his adoptive father, who hailed from the Luo community, passed away.
“When I turned 21, the person I knew as my father died. A year later, my mom disclosed to me that the man who had raised me was not my biological father. She told me she was going to talk to my father and introduce me to him, which she did after a month or so,” Ochola told Standard Digital in an interview.
Ochola claims he had interacted with Kibaki a number of times at Karen Country club and was shocked when his mother organized a meeting with him at Amboseli Grill on June 21st, 1982.
“My adoptive father was a member of the Karen Country club just like the late president. I was raised in Karen and we frequented the club. Kibaki is someone I knew and so when the time came for me to meet my father, I never expected it to be the late president. It’s not been easy for me having grown up speaking and thinking that I was Luo only to realize 22 years later that I was not from the lakeside tribe. I wish to state clearly that I am not the brother to the late president, I am his biological son,” he added.
Since then, the man says he was in constant communication with Kibaki and recalls hosting the late president at Mombasa Beach Hotel where he was working as a manager in 1986.
“I was the manager at Mombasa beach and Mzee used to come since he has a residence adjacent to the beach but he had to travel three kilometers to get there. During Easter and Christmas, he would come and I would sit with him for hours. People didn’t know who I was and they wondered why I was sitting with Kibaki who was the vice president at the time. I didn’t see the need to disclose to them who Kibaki was to me.”
He also claims that Kibaki visited his Mombasa hotel residence when his first wife Lily Wanjiru gave birth to his firstborn child.
“My wife delivered my first child Hilary who was born on November 23, 1986, and on Christmas, they came over to see me although my son was barely two months old. During that period Mzee came and visited us and that was the first time he met Wanjiru and his grandchild,” Ochola added.
Ochola further claims to have met and interacted with Kibaki in 1988 while serving as the Frontal House manager at Sirikwa Hotel in Eldoret, and even shared a room with him.
“I was a manager at Sirikwa hotel when Mzee was replaced as VP by the late Dr. Josphat Karanja. When Mzee came to Eldoret I received him since I was tasked with welcoming every dignitary and making sure that their check-in process was flawless,” he said.
“Under normal circumstances, when he came to Sirikwa, Kibaki would occupy the presidential suite which is on the first floor but following his dismissal, he could no longer reserve the room. When I told him it was against protocol he told me to take him to my room. I was a resident at Sirikwa hotel at the time, in room 315. I went back downstairs to make alterations because Kibaki was not going to occupy the suites. I went back took room 319 and assigned it to daddy. He signed the registration form but he still spent the night in my room.”
Ochola says he kept in touch with Kibaki even after the death of former First Lady Lucy Kibaki and would occasionally visit his Muthaiga residence and official office in Nyari to exchange pleasantries.
“I am well known to the guards there and as you are aware all these premises are under CCTV surveillance and each time I visited my father’s residence I never went alone. I was accompanied by my son or driver and on some cases two pastors who were familiar with what was going on,” he added.
The man says he attempted to visit Kibaki when he was ailing so that he could get some recognition in the event of his demise but he was turned away as he was not recognized as his kin.
“I also had an opportunity to visit the president’s office to have an appointment confirmed with the Chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua three times. I did disclose to them the reason why I wanted to see him. They promised to get in touch with me but they never did and this was almost three years ago. I also made contact with Dr. Willy Mutunga, the former Chief Justice, and pleaded with him to intercede on my behalf and all these efforts were not successful,” he said.
He also visited Kibaki’s sister Esther Waitherero, who he says received him warmly but could not assist him since she also did not have access to Kibaki.
“I have gone to three law firms with this matter so that I can get recognition. I have been home to Othaya three times and I have met my auntie, the only living one I have right now and she told me she could not help me because she could not access daddy,” he said.
Asked why he waited for his death and burial to seek recognition from Kibaki’s family, Ochola said that his moral compass as a Christian did not allow him to cause trouble at a time when the family was still grieving the loss.
“This is not something that started today. It was out of respect that I waited for the process to end to make this press conference. It would not have been right at the end of the day. I was not going to rush to court to demand a stay on his burial or DNA test. That would be disrespectful to the man who brought me into this world,” he added.
Ochola is seeking to be included as a beneficiary of the Kibaki family estate that is estimated to be worth billions of shillings.