Leaders overcome by grief at Kones’ service
Published on June 19, 2008, 12:00 am
By Beauttah Omanga
Grief overcame Members of Parliament and many broke down and wept as they beheld the caskets bearing the bodies of Minister Kipkalya Kones and his bodyguard Corporal Kenneth Bett.
A requiem Mass for Kones and his aide at the Good Shepherd Church on Ngong Road, Nairobi, was a welter of emotions as some of about 100 MPs, most who had cut short the morning session of Parliament to attend, wept as their colleague was eulogised.
Agriculture Minister William Ruto was overwhelmed; with tears rolling down his cheeks, as he listened to members of KonesÕ family speak fondly of him.
Anger against the suspect record of KenyaÕs air safety was palpable as National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende called, for the second time this week, for accountability by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.
Former Roads Minister Kones, Assistant Minister Lorna Laboso, Bett and pilot Christoph Schinerr died last week on Tuesday in a plane crash near Narok town, on their way to Kericho.
Another requiem Mass will be held for Laboso at the same church today. Bett, who had worked with Kones for the last 10 years, will be buried today in Bomet Central Location, while the bodies of Kones and Laboso will be flown to Kericho on Friday.
Laboso will be buried tomorrow at Manaret village, Sotik. Kones will be buried in Bomet on Saturday.
Marende said the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) owed Kenyans answers on the safety of the local airspace.
ÒKenyans are waiting for answers from KCAA. We want to know how secure our airspace is and those responsible should stop passing the buck,Ó said the Speaker.
Speaker after speaker described Kones as a selfless and dedicated minister.
President Kibaki in a speech read on his behalf by Internal Security Minister George Saitoti described the former Bomet MP as a servant of the people and a shrewd politician.
ÒThe departed minister was a man of courage, a shrewd politician and ever committed to what he believed in,Ó said the President
The President said the country had lost a dedicated minister who had taken his new role with devotion.
ÒWithin the 58 days the minister was in office, he had embarked on a countrywide tour to inspect roads and his service will greatly be missed,Ó noted the Head of State.
The Speaker termed KonesÕ death tragic and a terrible blow to the Tenth Parliament.
Marende regretted that in the past five months Parliament has lost four MPs, a situation he described as worrying.
Ruto composed himself and made an emotional speech describing Kones as a pillar of hope to many politicians.
ÒWe have lost a leader we all looked up to. We have lost him at a time when, as leaders, we had started working together as people from the same region,Ó said Ruto, as he fought back tears.
Ruto said leaders in Rift Valley had been devastated by the death of Kones and Laboso.
ÒKones was a consummate and an accomplished politician and ever generous than any other leader I have ever known,Ó said the tearful Ruto.
Family members led by KonesÕ two widows Lilian and Beatrice and first- born son Kevin Kalya described Kones as a selfless and loving husband and father.
ÒTo us he was everything and hardly ran away from any problem no matter its magnitude,Ó said Lilian.
Beatrice said, ÒKones was courageous and politically upright and never wavered no matter the circumstances.Ó
Kalya said his father was an honest man, who gave out all he had even if it meant remaining without anything for himself or his family.
Prime Minister Raila OdingaÕs wife, Ida, who conveyed her husbandÕs condolences to the families, said she knew Kones as a sincere politician who always kept his promise.
Cabinet ministers at the Mass included Prof Sam Ongeri, Prof AnyangÕ NyongÕo, Ms Esther Mathenge, Dr Sally Kosgei, Mr Henry Kosgey, Mr Chris Obure, Mr Dalmas Otieno, Mr Samuel Poghisio, Mrs Betty Mugo, Prof Helen Sambili, Mr Wycliffe Oparanya, several assistant ministers and MPs.
Also present were senior Government officials and private sector executives, among them Mr Paul Melly, Deputy Chairman and Strategy Adviser of the Standard Group.
Saitoti said: ÒKones was one of the leaders upon whom the Government was banking on in ensuring the country remained united and focused on vision 2030.Ó
MPs Franklin Bett and Isaac Ruto described Kones as a faithful servant of his constituents and all Kenyans.