To many, David Musila is a tough-speaking no-nonsense politician who always speaks his mind and does what he purposes to do. His son Francis Musila lets us in on who his father is beyond politics
Grace Wachira @yaa_grace
How was it growing up as David Musila’s child?
For as long as I would remember, our Migwani, Kitui home was always full of people who came to see my father. When my father was in the government, particularly when he was a District Commissioner (DC) and Provincial Commissioner (PC), people would come to look for him.
What is clear though is that he has always helped people in whatever capacity he could. Whether it was family members, or family friends or parents seeking school fees for their children or fixing a badly leaking roof or getting medical attention, anything …. he would address all manner of issues.
My father lent a listening ear. Where he could help with his resources, he did. Where he could direct them, he did. So, it was not surprising that when he was a Member of Parliament, he championed such things as constituency development fund, pension payment, among others, so that the public would be empowered in one way or another.
What aspects of his growing up influenced him into becoming the man he is now?
There was a community feel around my grandfather’s homestead. By virtue of spending time with my grandparents, I saw first-hand how my grandfather, Nathan Muli, valued relationships and those values were passed on to my father.
He has had a long run in politics. How was he like as a father and how did he balance family and work?
The nature of his work made him spend time away from home. When he was director of tourism he had frequent and long trips abroad. The longest was during his three years in Spain at the World Tourism Organisation, but he made visits home. Politics has a bad reputation world over.
We may have had reservations about my father moving from administrative work that he enjoyed and did really well, to politics. How could he do it and still keep his reputation intact? But the pull of community was strong and they – through my grandfather – persuaded my father to run as an MP.
Even then, he made sure to be a present father throughout the transition and even after he was successfully elected in 1997 to represent the people of Mwingi.
What was it like for you as a family?
We did not understand the full intricacies of his moves. When we moved to Nairobi, it was exciting. Finally, I was not a child from shags! I remember visiting my family at InterContinental Hotel during a three-day half term from secondary school. It was the first time I had seen a hotel suite.
As a child, we lived in the expansive PC’s residence. I always had a feeling that the house was not ours— it came with the job. When we moved to Nairobi and Loresho, Kiambu the feeling that it was ours was real. It was not a big house or compound, but there I felt I was home.
Despite being a PC, my parents were never the extravagant type. It seemed to have been clear what was their money and what was government money. While my father had official cars, we went to school in a humble Suzuki car that my father owned. We led a normal life.
What about your mother?
Growing up, my mother was a primary school teacher. We noticed some time in 1979, she stopped working. We now know they agreed with my father that after my youngest brother was born, she would take care of the four children – Aaron, Ruth, Muli and I.
Mum was always there for us during better and worse moments. After we all graduated from university, my mother went back to school, got an undergraduate degree and then a masters! We are all extremely proud of what she was able to achieve. That determination and grit is both in my father and mother.
During his time in politics, how did your parents shield you from what was happening around you?
When we were young, we were not really aware of his ups and downs in politics. But when we grew up, we supported where we were required. In the later years, we discussed about his possible retirement, but the call of community service has always been strong for my father.
The intrigues of our changing political landscape post the new Constitution convinced him that Kenya needed the wisdom that he and others brought and that he still had the energy and drive to continue giving.
He still does – but he has accepted to leave behind elective positions and serve his country in various capacities, such as chair of Museums of Kenya, Trustee for National Fund for the Disabled, The David Musila Foundation, educating university students, mentoring politicians and young people and head of the extended Musila family.
He recently launched his book, Seasons of Hope. Tell us more about the book and what made your father decide to write it.
This is better coming from the author.
His fallout with his longtime friend Kalonzo Musyoka, how messy was it? How is their relationship now?
How do you spend time as a family now that he has grandchildren?
We share our parents (mum and dad) with the community, especially the extended family. He has four grandchildren, two boys and two girls, aged three to 13. It is amazing watching how they relate. My parents impart history, learning and sense of belonging in them. To respect self and others. I appreciate the open arm welcome that the children get when they visit.
What is his opinion on the current political situation in the country especially after the handshake, and Uhuru and Raila working together?
What does Musila fear the most? What is his greatest weakness?
He should be in a better position to answer that.
What is his life mantra? How does he manage to keep on going?
For as a long as I can remember, my father (and grandfather) abhor laziness. You have to keep yourself busy. Do something. No time for idling around—unless you are on holiday (and oh by the way, we had annual holidays in Mombasa for years, when we could.)