Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Ex-senator who ended up a herder

George Sayagie | NATION Mr Philip Toikan Lemein during the interview last week.
George Sayagie | NATION Mr Philip Toikan Lemein during the interview last week. 
By GEORGE SAYAGIE gsayagie@ke.nationmedia.com
Posted  Monday, April 1  2013 at  21:00

Philip Toikan Lemein’s name features prominently in Kenya’s history books, earning him a place among the country’s Independence heroes.
The 86 year-old member of the Kenyan Independence Senate has seen the best and worst of both worlds, literary.
Having been a Senator, it was humbling being relegated to a herdsman to look after his dwindling herd of cattle in Narok.
As the current Senators get down to work, he will be watching them with nostalgia.
Mr Lemein, who attended the Lancaster House conference in 1963 and was former President Moi’s schoolmate, went back to teaching primary school children after the Senate’s term ended in 1966 when the House of Representatives and the Senate merged.
After the post-election violence in 2008, he took it upon himself to preach peace among communities living in Narok County.
Peace crusader
He is now the secretary of Narok Peace Committee and Maasai Council of Elders after having been a member of several school boards.
During the 2010 promulgation of the Constitution ceremony at Narok Stadium, Mr Lemein showed his patriotism when he shed tears of joy before a large crowd that turned up for the event.
He talked of his days in the negotiations that brought about independence.
“Kenyans’ joys of freedom had been short-lived due to poor governance that threw many into poverty. The Lancaster constitution, which we mid-wifed was, despite its imperfections, a good document. But it was mutilated beyond recognition over time to create a monster that suited the whims of the ruling elite,” he said.
He went on: “The fight to liberate Kenya began before independence and it has come to fruition after the ushering in of the Constitution. It is as if I have seen independence twice. I am honoured to be alive at this time.”
Born in 1926 at Melili area in Narok North District, Mr Lemein attended Government African School, now Ole Sankale Primary school, in 1933.
“After completing my Kenya Africa Preliminary Education in 1941, I attended Government African School and Teacher Training College, Kapsabet for my P4 teacher course. There I met retired President Daniel arap Moi, then in Standard Eight.
Despite being my junior, he wielded immense authority as he was in charge of the dining hall which served both primary and teacher training sections,” says Mr Lemein.
After teaching for 20 years in various schools, it was Mr Moi and former Narok North MP Justus Kantet ole Tipis who prevailed upon him to resign and join politics.
“I subsequently became the treasurer of Kenya Africa Democratic Union (Kadu) Narok branch in 1962 and later joined the delegation that went to negotiate Kenya’s independence in London,” he says.
Mr Lemein’s students are among the who-is-who in Maasailand. They include Moi University Chief Academic Officer Karei ole Karei, ‘University Goes to the Village’ programme founder Sarone ole Sena, US-based professor Meitamei Olol Dapash and former Permanent Secretary Peter Nkuraiya.
He retired in 1982 as a teacher having been in the classroom for 33 years.
He explains the new Senators must represent the counties’ interests by making laws that benefit their constituents.
“The senators must determine the allocation of national revenue among counties as well as exercise oversight responsibilities over the national revenue allocated to county governments, and they should not be biased on tribal lines,” he says.
The father of six, who looks much younger than his age, attributes his good health to having abstained from alcohol and smoking.
“As a former scout, I also walk a lot not only because I don’t own a car but because I love it,” says Mr Lemein.
He recalls his days at Lancaster and in the Senate with pride.
“My three months stay there transformed my personality. I mingled freely with such great personalities as Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Tom Mboya among others,” he says.
“Our work in the Senate was to approve or reject Bills passed in the House of Representatives (lower house). Bills rejected by the Senate (upper house) had to garner 90 per cent support if they are to be passed, which was no mean feat,” he says.

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