Speculation is rife on the whereabouts and health of First Lady Lucy Kibaki. Rumour mills are on overdrive, especially, because Mama Lucy, has not been seen in public since August 2010. The First Lady has kept an uncharacteristic low profile. She has not attended any public function since the promulgation of the Constitution on August 27, 2010 at Uhuru Park.
Her now famous lively and energetic jig as she celebrated the ushering in of the new constitution is still the subject of fond debate in a country not famous for its fun-loving public figures. Office of First Lady official web page, which is under the State House official website, has April 19, 2012 as the last date Lucy made a public statement when she asked politicians not to drag State House into their political wrangles, especially when they intend to disparage rivals.
The statement was issued barely a week after Presidential Press Service (PPS) issued another communication assuring the public that all was well with the First Lady following public inquiries and speculations over her health. The April 10 statement was issued by the PPS and not directly made by the First Lady at a public function.
Since she started disappearing from public limelight in 2010, State House has strenuously sought to assure the public that all was well with the First Lady. At Uhuru Park she literary led the nation in dancing to Emmy Kosgey's Taunet Nelel song. She has since missed out on key public events including the burial of her brother James Kigo Kagai in Kiriti, Mukurwei-ini in November last year.
President Kibaki attended the funeral alongside his nephew Nderitu Mureithi. Lucy also missed out on funerals of their close family friends including those of former Cabinet ministers Njenga Karume, John Michuki and George Saitoti. Yesterday, State House did not respond to inquiries on the whereabouts and well being of Mama Lucy.
Head of the Presidential Press service Isaiah Kabira would not respond to an SMS on reports that Mama Lucy could be critically ill. Social media has been abuzz with reports that the First Lady had been admitted to the Aga Khan Hospital Nairobi last week after being transferred from Karen Hospital suffering from an unknown disease.
Mama Lucy is a national gem. Her robust approach to national issues and the fact she does not suffer fools has endeared her to the nation since December 2002 when Kibaki became President. In the April 10 statement, PPS said the First Lady was "fine" and carrying out her duties. The statement was in response to media reports that the nation was concerned because of her absence from the national scene.
Kenyans have come to expect her to be a companion and consort of Kibaki.
PPS then stated that Lucy has been exercising her duties at State House, Nairobi where the offices of Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS are.
The First Lady is the chairperson of OAFLA Kenyan Chapter, with PPS indicating Lucy has been busy participating in activities to fight the disease, taking care of the sick and orphans. PPS also indicated that Lucy has been helping other vulnerable children in society and empowering women and the girl child and noted that she has continued with activities that do not require involvement of the media such as fighting for the poor "silently".
OAFLA has in the last one year held meetings in Addis Ababa in July and last week in New York where Kenya's First Lady did not show up. She did not also accompany the president to the London Olympics. Instead, her daughter Judy Kibaki was with her father when he met with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.
In 2010, the First Lady had just a handful of public engagements which included voting on the referendum on August 4, 2010. Lucy was born in Mukurweini to the Rev John Kagai and Rose Nyachomba, and was educated at Alliance Girls High School. She then trained as a teacher, and rose through the ranks to principal of a teacher-training college in Kiambu.
She met Kibaki in 1960 and the two married in 1962. They have four children, Judy Wanjiku, Jimmy Kibaki, David Kagai and Tony Githinji. The First Lady is known for courage and forthrightness. She never shies away from speaking her mind. In 2003 the First Lady walked out of a New Year's Eve party when former Vice President Moody Awori's made a faux pas by introducing her as the Second Lady.
She is on record criticizing one of Kibaki's trusted minister, the late Saitoti, whom in her view had done a hopeless job as Internal Security minister. The First Lady was furious when Saitoti said the tragic Sachang'wan oil tank fire in which 120 people died should serve as a lesson to people who rush to scoop oil from grounded tankers.
The First Lady lashed out at Saitoti wondering how dead people can learn a lesson. Prof Saitoti died on June 10 this year, when the police chopper he was traveling in crashed at Kibiku, Ngong'. Many still remember her contribution to her husband's campaign in 2007 when she coined the "Domo Domo" slogan in response to Kibaki's challengers in the General Election dismissing all us loud mouths unfit for the top job.