Down memory lane

By James Macharia 

Having died on August 27th 2004, over 11 years down the line, Emmanuel Karisa Maitha’s legacy still lingers in people’s mind.

Emmanuel Karisa Maitha was born in the Coastal region back in 1954 and died in Germany while in an official visit from a heart attack.

Due to his meticulous manner of approaching politics of the then era, Coastal people branded him the name “mugogo wa Pwani” meaning a strong man from Coast.

Nationally, Maitha was referred to as “Hurricane.”

And indeed, he was a force of nature and a force to reckon with.

Maitha first made his political debut in 1979, when he was elected as councilor. From then to his demise, Maitha’s political star rose steadily and took the helm of Coastal region politics with a storm.

In the year 2002, Karisa Maitha was elected as a Member of Parliament for Kisauni after taking a huge lead ahead of his then rival Said Hemed, garnering 25,000 votes against Hemed’s 5,000 votes.

Upon his election, Maitha hit the ground running. People started feeling his leadership. He became bold in addressing issues touching his residents in Parliament like land grabbing, marginalization and politics of exclusion.

Nyonga wa Makemba, the once Maitha’s Personal Assistant remembers him so well as if it was yesterday.

“He helped people deal with many issues affecting them. He fed the hungry, bought books and desks for schools and helped resolve land matters.” Nyonga remembers.

Karisa Maitha became the Coastal Kingpin and seemingly an opponent of Raila Odinga.

Shortly after the death of Ronald Ngala, Maitha noticed a gap that existed in the Coastal politics and struggled to fill it.

He once introduced a “mnazi motion” in parliament, seeking to empower the mnazi stakeholders who had for long been oppressed. The motion also aimed at legalizing the sale of mnazi alcoholic drink locally referred to as ‘Mnazi’. Surprisingly, the bill went through. Since then, mnazi stakeholders felt relieved and started to earn a living through the sale of the same.

He rallied his people to speaking up boldly just as he did.

Charo Jefa 60, remembers how one day, in a hilarious moment, Maitha asked if there was anyone with a degree but unemployed. And when one lady stood up, Maitha told her, “From today henceforth, count yourself a District Officer (D.O) of this area.”

And she truly became one since then.

While serving under Mwai Kibakis reign in the docket of Local Government, Maitha made a wonderful move of enforcing a law that directed hawkers in towns to operate only in designated areas, in a bid to reduce traffic.

His last Ministry to serve was Tourism and Wildlife where he left indelible marks and probably why he’ll never be forgotten as the best Minister ever to have served in the docket.

He also did the same to street families and offered learning stations to them where they studied different courses.

Many years to come, a story will also be told of a man who dared to walk the tight path of speaking truth and boldly.

Karisa Maitha died of heart attack in 2004 in Germany at 50, where he had gone to represent Kenya on Tourism-oriented matters.

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