Prominent Coast Personalities; Karisa Maitha alias ‘Hurricane’, ‘Mugogo wehu’.

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Emmanuel Karisa Maitha served as Kisauni MP from 1997 to his death in 2004, aged 50, and as Minister in the Local Government and Tourism and Wildlife dockets. Kibaki mourned his death by describing him as a personal friend and confidant. Karisa Maitha rose from humble beginnings to a ‘Hurricane’ on the national scene as Local Government Minister and a Coast kingpin of unmatched stature to date. The Mijikenda people who he belonged to nicknamed him ‘Mugogo wehu’ an endearing term meaning our great leader.

A trained Clinical Officer, he earned many admirers with his heart for serving the underprivileged. His legacy as a Clinical Officer served him well when he made the move to politics, becoming a Councillor in 1979. He would later on endure political defeats & setbacks to Said Hemed and Rashid Mzee in the quest for the Kisauni top seat before securing it on a DP ticket in 1997. He made NARC a success story at the Coast in 2002 when the region abandoned KANU for the first time since independence. For his loyalty, Kibaki would stand by him even when there were calls to sack him as Local Government Minister, moving him to the Tourism and Wildlife docket instead.

Karisa Maitha was dubbed ‘Hurricane’ during his time as Local Government Minister, when he famously made a habit of making impromptu visits to institutions like Pumwani Maternity Hospital, sacking on the spot those responsible for the deplorable conditions of such institutions. For fearlessly driving the Coast Agenda of education, land & the overall regional economy both vocally and in action like no other Coast leader before him, he was given the title ‘Mugogo’. He was a stauch defender of the palm wine trade & its economic potential.

During rallies Karisa Maitha would famously end his political speeches by asking any Coast youth with academic certificates to stand up, their details taken by those in his entourage, and true to his word, many would get job opportunities in no time. Karisa Maitha died in Germany after being taken ill in the middle of an interview with a German radio station. A nationwide beloved figure, Maitha’s funeral is remembered by locals for the many college and university buses that thronged his home, a measure of the reverence the nation’s youth had for him. There have been many pretenders to replace ‘Mugogo’, none has lived up to his legacy.

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