Kibra MP Ken Okoth on Friday died at Nairobi Hospital after close to one year of a courageous battle with cancer.
The lawmaker was re-admitted at Nairobi Hospital on the early hours of Thursday after his condition worsened. He returned to the country two weeks ago from France where he was undergoing treatment after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer.
“He has been on and off hospital and was brought to the f facility yesterday (Thursday) morning. He was admitted at around 5pm but at around 8pm his health deteriorated and he was taken to the ICU. He remained there until today (Friday) at around 4pm when he passed on,” his brother Imran Okoth said.
The body has been transferred to Lee Funeral Home but the family has requested for privacy as they make funeral arrangements.
There will be no public viewing at the Lee Funeral Home, Imran told journalists noting that further announcements would be made from Saturday July 27.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and Opposition chief Raila Odinga said Kenya has lost “a bright, courageous, young man to the cancer scourge.”
A statement from State House described Okoth as an astute Member of Parliament.
“It is with a heavy heart that I have this afternoon received the sad news of the death of Kibra MP Hon Ken Okoth. Death has robbed us of an astute legislator. May God comfort his family, friends and indeed all Kenyans during this difficult period of mourning,” President Uhuru said.
Ruto said Okoth was an enthusiastic, energetic, distinguished and public-spirited leader, who served his constituents with dedication and selflessness.
According to Ruto, the Kibra lawmaker worked tirelessly to better the lives of others and championed the welfare of all. “Okoth had a dogged personality, tenacity that elevated him among his peers and gave him an invincible aura. His battle with cancer exemplified his bravery, endurance and strength in adversity,” the DP said.
Raila in a tweet said: “I am deeply saddened by the passing of our MP Okoth. Ken battled cancer with unique bravery while serving his voters to the last minutes of his life.”
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi described the late lawmaker as a visionary, indefatigable and exceptional legislator whose commitment to House and constituency duties was unmatched.
He also lauded him for his vibrancy in executing a transformational agenda for his Kibra constituency, largely a slum legislative jurisdiction.
“It is with great sadness that I have learnt of the passing on of Kibra MP, Hon Ken Okoth after gallantly fighting the illness that afflicted him. My heartfelt condolences to Hon Okoth’s family, constituents and friends.
“During his almost 7-year tenure as the MP for Kibra constituency, Hon. Ken, spared no efforts in executing his transformational agenda. He leaves behind a rich legacy of a great leader and a very progressive lawmaker,” Muturi said in a short statement sent to newsrooms.
The Speaker said it was unfortunate that his demise comes at a time when all Kenyans especially fellow legislators had looked forward to his recovery and return to parliamentary roles.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior said: “While we at the Assembly have lost a valuable comrade, Kenya and indeed, Kibra constituency, has lost a great patriot. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”
He added: “ Ken Okoth was in a class of his own in so many ways. He was not a conformist or an apologist. He was brave to share his health status and came back home for one last public function looking so frail. He suffered bravely. Go well bro. Kenya will miss your wit.”
During his stay in Paris, he would often engage with Kenyans online to keep them abreast of his progress. Last year, Okoth was put through vigorous treatment that involved combined radio- and chemotherapy to avert the impending risk of organ failure.
For over a year before his diagnosis, Okoth said he had symptoms of ulcers and sometimes of bacterial infections, for which he was treated. At some point, he was even given medication to manage stress.
The legislator described himself as an educator, humanist and cancer warrior.
He revealed how ‘Chemo drugs are brutal….’ almost a year after he was put through vigorous treatment that combined radio and chemotherapy to avert the impending risk of organ failure.
In March Okoth tweeted: “Napambana na hali yangu kabisa. Chemo drugs are brutal on the skin and immunity system.”
During a past interview, Okoth told a local newspaper how he had been on treatment for ulcers and bacterial infections for about a year, not knowing he had cancer.
Doctors had also prescribed for him pills to manage stress and anxiety. It was only when he sought a second opinion that he discovered that he had colorectal cancer.
Last year, Okoth expressed his intention to introduce a bill to decriminalise the growth and use of cannabis, also known as marijuana. The legislator, wrote to Muturi to petition for the legalisation of the herb’s use in the country.
He made his first public appearance about 12 days ago when he attended the Kibra Music Fest at Moi Girls School, Nairobi, accompanied by other City leaders.
During the event, the MP exuded confidence and lauded Kenyans for praying for him during his time in France and vowed to overcome the disease in the long run.
Okoth, 41, was recently lauded by State House for his bravery in his fight against cancer and urged Kenyans to emulate him. Okoth was born in 1978 and raised in Kibra’s Kisumu Dogo area He, together with his five siblings, was raised by a single mother. Okoth was the fourth-born.
He went to Olympic Primary School and scored 613/700 marks in his KCPE examination, then joined Starehe Boys’ Centre.
The Starehe community was hoping to host him this weekend as it marks its 60th anniversary.
He pursued his undergraduate degree at St Lawrence University, US. He studied German and European Studies.
He held a Master’s degree in International Relations degree from Georgetown University.