A man has claimed to be the biological first son of late President Mwai Kibaki, who was laid to rest only three weeks ago at Othaya, Nyeri County.
Jacob Ochola Mwai, 62, is now vying for a piece of the Kibaki family fortune, which is said to be worth billions of shillings.
Ochola, who was born in Nairobi’s Kaloleni estate on July 22, 1960, claims he had no knowledge he was Kibaki’s father.
He allegedly came to that realization following a conversation with his mother, one year after his adoptive father passed away. His foster father, he said, hailed from the Luo community, hence the name Ochola.
“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.
Despite having purportedly interacted with Kibaki on a number of occasions at Karen Country club, Ochola was not expecting to meet the former Head of State when his mother finally organized a sit down at Amboseli Grill on June 21, 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,” said Ochola.
“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.”
From then on, Ochola and Kibaki supposedly remained in constant touch with one another. In 1986 for instance, Ochola claimed he hosted the late president at Mombasa Beach Hotel where he was working as a manager at the time.
“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,” said Ochola.
“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.”
Ochola also claims that Kibaki visited his Mombasa hotel residence when his first wife, Lily Wanjiru, gave birth to his first born 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,” he said.
Ochola also claims to have interacted with the late president in 1988 when he served as the Frontal House manager at Sirikwa hotel in Eldoret, going so much as saying that he even shared a room with the former Head of State.
“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.
Kibaki was looking to spend a few days in the hotel’s presidential suite but the establishment’s protocols would not allow it since Kibaki was no longer a sitting vice president.
“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,” said Ochola.
“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.”
Kibaki, Ochola added, supposedly also visited his wife Lily in hospital where she was admitted after being diagnosed with carcinoma of the rectum. Lily would succumb to the disease just 10 days after the visit.
“Lily was in and out of both Nairobi and Aga Khan Hospitals for almost two years
my father visited her just days before she died,” he said.
Ochola also says that he was present at former first lady Lucy Kibaki’s pre-funeral service held at Consolata Shrine where the late former Head of State welcomed him and thanked him for gracing the event.
Kibaki allegedly invited Ochola to Lucy’s funeral in Othaya but he claims he could not make it since he was scheduled to travel to Ethiopia on the same day.
In the years that followed, Ochola said he kept in touch with Kibaki, occasionally frequenting 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 said.
With news of Kibaki’s deteriorating health doing rounds in the country, Ochola said he attempted to visit his alleged father at a Nairobi hospital so that he could get some recognition in the event of his demise. He was however reportedly turned away as he was not recognized as Kibaki’s kin.
Before going to the press, Ochola purports to have taken the matter to the Catholic Church in the hopes that they would help him with his predicament owing to Kibaki’s known history as a devout Christian but nothing has materialized.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Ochola also apparently sought out Kibaki’s sister, Esther Waitherero, in Othaya 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.
When asked why he waited so long to seek recognition from the Kibaki family, Ochola said that his moral compass as a Christian did not allow him to trouble the family at a time when they were 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,” said Ochola.
“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.”