Aged 36 years, Kenneth Matiba, briefcase in hand, stood outside the entrance of Jogoo House A, and bid farewell to a messenger passing by.
The messenger was the last person he saw as he quit his top position at the civil service, where he had been tapped as Permanent Secretary at only 31 years old.
The messenger, perhaps, foreshadowed his attachment to the common mwananchi.
Years later, thousands would line up on the route from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to welcome Matiba back from London.
The incident outside Jogoo House was also a contrast of a man who would later become a billionaire businessman rumoured to have paid Sh14 million annually to a British public relations firm in London.
Took it well
Matiba quit the civil service in June 1968 after giving a one year notice to the then Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President, Geoffrey Kariithi.
Mzee Jomo Kenyatta would later phone Mr Kariithi, demanding to know who had given Matiba permission to leave. Mzee was politely reminded that he authorised it himself; and took it well when Matiba went to say goodbye.
“I was relieved when he wished me well,” wrote Matiba in his autobiography, Aiming High, The Story of my Life.
When Matiba informed him that his son, Raymond, was going to be circumcised along with John Michuki’s two boys, mzee requested that his two sons, Uhuru and Muhoho, join them.
A reluctant politician, Matiba contested for the Kiharu parliamentary seat (then known as Mbiri) in 1979 where he ousted former Cabinet Minister, Gikonyo Kiano. And at 5pm when the radio announced that he had trounced Dr Kiano, hundreds of people started streaming towards his Embassy House office in Murang’a. “I have never seen so many people in my life at night. They were everywhere,” he wrote.
According to his autobiography, even police could not control the crowd.