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Frank Waweru Mwaniki (FM) – Go thee well good friend!

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Matunda Nyanchama

November 29, 2019
Sincere condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Frank Waweru Mwaniki who passed away following a road accident in Nairobi. He will be sorely missed by all of us who knew and interacted with him during his life on earth.

There are no words that can capture the shock and pain experienced on learning of the passing of a dear friend and fellow sojourner, Dr. Frank Waweru Mwaniki (FM). It is one of those things that could prompt one to ask God why? And why now?

Dr. Frank Waweru Mwaniki (FM)

FM was a good personal friend, a fellow sojourner with who we waged many battles and a man with who we discussed and implemented many constructive ideas. He was a man of vision, a team player and a Kenyan committed to the good of our nation. He fought a good fight and left a track record as a testimony to his presence here on earth!

Back in the late 1990s, and with the entrenchment of the Internet, we in the Diaspora extensively shared information about our country, Kenya. Often, the news reaching us was negative and deflating: insecurity and lawlessness, corruption, political and physical warring, impunity, name it! And we wondered why it was happening in Kenya. We questioned whether, as a country, we had missed the ‘boat of civilization’.

In sharing the news and comparing personal and collective experiences, there was clear disquiet regarding the direction the country was taking! Our beloved country was losing many opportunities that would have led to become a great nation that it should have been. Negative ethnicity, corruption, lack of a national ethos and absence of an overriding vision for the country remained a major concern to us.

We discussed the politics of the day and how we could get involved and, better still, influence outcomes; we explored economic development prospects and how the collective Diaspora could chip in; we yearned for better education for our brothers and sisters even as job prospects declined in the face of excessive political mismanagement of the Daniel Arap Moi era (or was it a reign of error); we decried the senseless lawlessness and impunity in the country and how this was hurting the overall well-being of our people; we disparaged the lack of civility and the callousness with which authorities treated fellow Kenyans and yearned for civilized conduct in handling public matters!

All this built up to the collective belief that we could do something about the mess! … And soon enough, there was a trigger, a spark that would ignite the tinder!

An innocent university student leader, Solomon Omuruli was murdered in cold blood in his room, and on campus, to wit! Many to this day believe it was the work of the police!

For us, that was it! And we needed to act! We collectively condemned this heinous act and many other ills that were happening in the country. The Kenyan Diaspora collective was mad as hell and we reared to go!

And we needed a ‘vehicle’ through which we would channel our efforts, let alone the anger! Lucy Kimani, then working at the World Bank and a member of the interim team that I chaired, proposed we call ourselves the Kenyan Community Abroad (KCA) and so it became!

Soon, I was elected to lead the organization and FM became our Assistant Secretary-General. He would later become Secretary-General in our second term in office. And, as my two-term limit expired in 2002, FM was the natural choice to step into my shoes as President of KCA!

FM was a strategic thinker and a man of ideas and action. Often, with creative imagination and search, he could locate resources to support the organization. For example, during the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, FM was instrumental in mobilizing funds that went to support some victims of the blast. It is through his contacts in Nairobi that we were able to channel the funds to some of the victims.

Working quietly, but strategically, FM also helped the organization build relationships across the world, including Kenya. These linkages would pay off in later years!

As I stepped down KCA leadership and he became KCA President, there was a full in-tray: dual-citizenship rights, channeling diaspora investments for the country, institutionalizing the Diaspora Homecoming Conference, widening the reach of KCA and tapping into the Diaspora potential for various sectors such as education, healthcare, agriculture and the like.

During his presidency, KCA successfully pulled off the dual-citizen agenda through deliberate planning and execution. This included socializing the idea to major players participating in the Bomas events on constitution-making. The efforts to establish the Kenyans Abroad Investment Fund (KAIF) also took off in earnest! KAIF was a great idea that I believe it was ahead of its time! As such it did not garner the broad support it needed to succeed. That said there are many such efforts modeled on the same idea! .. and more!

On a personal level, my interactions with FM led us to build trust and strengthen our personal bonds. It was often the case that he welcomed me and family to his home whenever we were in his town. And his generosity was such that, from his company, one felt one was a brother and more.

Go thee well good friend.
Dr. Matunda Nyanchama was the first President of the Kenyan Community Abroad (KCA)

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