It is not often that you find a tycoon kicking out a presidential aspirant, off their prestigious establishment because of their political differences, however, this was the case in the run-up to the 2007 General Election.
The story of businesswoman Lucy Weru, a relative of then-President Mwai Kibaki – chasing out ODM party leader Raila Odinga from her hotel based in Nyeri made national headlines and continues to be a point of debate on Kenya’s ugly history with divisive elections.
On August 20, 2007, Raila was accompanied by then close allies, Joseph Nyaga, Reuben Ndolo and activist Mumbi Ng’aru – as he attended the burial of one of his close friends Peterson Kaburu, at Mwanda village, Nyeri County.
ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses the media in Kisumu County on Friday, August 14, 2020
Coming at a time of political tension leading up to the 2007 General Election, the vote-rich Mt Kenya region was a balkanized stronghold of Mwai Kibaki – and anyone who dared associate with his rival, Raila, was shunned and even stigmatised.
After the burial, the ODM politicians proceeded to what was then one of the finest hotels in Nyeri – Karatina Tourist Lodge for lunch – unaware that the hotel belonged to Kibaki’s relative.
As soon as the politicians had ordered lunch, Weru got wind of the unusual guests and stormed into the premises and instructed them to leave.
“Who brought you here? We do not want ODM here. Can you please leave now? We do not want your money,” she stated at the time.
Taking the matter upon herself, she called security in order to carry out her instructions. This saw the ODM leader and his allies leave the premises to avoid further humiliation.
“Tell them to get out and even if he becomes president I do not want his assistance,” she ranted.
The scenario did not sit well with Raila allies and supporters who had called out the tycoon for her actions. However, the former Premier buried the hatchet during a recent tour in Nyeri whereby he expressed willingness to let bygones be bygones.
“I will sit down and have tea with the woman who kicked me out of her hotel at her home in Karatina because I have forgiven her and we should all forgive each other and foster friendship,” he stated at Kabiru-ini Grounds, Nyeri in November 2021.
The scenario had also stirred political conversations with political activist Benji Ndolo revisiting the matter in a recent tweet, expressing how the former Prime Minister had faced hard times on the campaign trail.
The words were, however, not taken lightly by some influential politicians such as former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga who admonished the politician for bringing up the scenario that discriminated against Raila’s rights.
Weru’s daughter is married to Kibaki’s son, David Kagai. Her other daughter, Noni, is married to flashy lawyer Donald Kipkorir.
Interestingly, Kipkorir is an ardent supporter of the former Prime Minister.
Retired President Mwai Kibaki with ODM leader Raila Odinga