Nyeri Governor Wahome Gakuru, who died aged 51, was a self-effacing individual who rarely courted controversy.
In his brief but illustrious political career, Dr Gakuru projected the image of a technocrat who was determined to turn around the fortunes of the agriculture-rich county.
As the cruel hand of death revisited the county situated at the foot of Mt Kenya for a second time this year, Nyeri residents have been left scratching their heads. Gakuru was in office for barely two months.
In February, Nderitu Gachagua, the first governor of Nyeri, lost a battle against pancreatic cancer. He died in a London hospital.
Nine months later, the county is once again enveloped in sorrow as residents mourn Gakuru's death.
Known for his amiable demeanor, Gakuru appeared unfazed by the trappings of power since he was sworn into office after the August 8 General Election.
Despite romping home with an overwhelming majority in the elections and officially taking over the instruments of power, the soft-spoken Gakuru maintained his lifestyle - always showing up for his favourite plate of 'githeri' at a lowly food joint in Nyeri town.
It was not unusual to see the governor’s limousine parked outside the common eatery located on Kanisa Road as he mingled with local residents during lunch break.
He was also a common figure in the town, shopping at Ignoble Slopes and Cieni supermarkets.
Going by the number of votes he got in the election, Nyeri residents appeared to have placed their hopes and aspirations on the shoulders of this man who ventured into politics from the Vision 2030 secretariat.
Gakuru, who was elected on a Jubilee Party ticket, garnered 279,044 votes, which translated to about 73 per cent of the ballots cast.
He was a well-known figure in academia, having lectured at top universities in the country and abroad.
One thing that was distinct about the governor was his penchant for education. Most of his peers say he always wanted to be referred to as ‘Dr Gakuru’.
This was well illustrated during his campaigns - all his campaign materials were emblazoned with the title Dr Wahome Gakuru (PhD); a close friend revealed that he didn’t want his title confused with that of a medical doctor.
Despite excelling in both public and private endeavours, and having been a key pillar in the establishment of the Vision 2030 economic blueprint, Gakuru’s political journey was a stillbirth in 2013, when he lost to Gachagua.
Although he was in The National Alliance party, which was popular in Nyeri, Gakuru was floored in what many observers attributed to lack of political experience as he was fresh from the corporate world.
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