Veteran politician Richard Kalembe Ndile passed on Sunday, May 30. The former Kibwezi politicians was a significant personality in the Kenyan politics
The vocal leader and influential figure in Ukambani politics succumbed following a long illness, as confirmed by his family.
The name Kalembe is a nickname he got from his days when his family was living in Western Uganda where his family had relocated in the early 1970s.
“I was very young and always sickly. My mother regularly took to me to the Kilembe Hospital and one of our neighbors decided to call me Kalembe due to the frequency of visits to that hospital,” he once narrated.
The Late Kalembe Ndile (left) with Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka at a past event.
His family found themselves squatters when they tried to return to Kenya following clashes in the country. On their return back into the country, they found their land had been taken away.
It is from that incident that he would adopt the name, “son of a squatter” which he used to gain relatability with the people he was looking to represent in parliament.
Kalembe would later venture into politics clinching the Kibwezi parliamentary seat in the 2002 elections. He also served as the assistant minister for Wildlife in the National Alliance Rainbow Coalition (NARC) government.
The firebrand politician from Makueni county would however lose any subsequent attempt to win the seat. In 2007 to ODM’s Philip Kaloki and two other attempts against Wiper’s Patrick Musimba, first in the 2013 general elections and later in a by-election.
He later formed The Independent Party (TIP) party and joined the Jubilee coalition. He woulder, however, lament over being sidelined by the party after his name was scraped off the list for consideration for the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) seat.
Despite his losses, the politician found his way back into government with a 2015 appointment by President Uhuru Kenyatta to the board of the Tana Athi Waterworks for a period of three years.
Ndile was in 2017 involved in an accident when his vehicle collided head-on with another car at Devki area along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway.
Following the accident, Kalembe stated that he was a member of the Disability Society of Kenya after his right thigh broke.
In April 2021, he declared his interest in replacing Senator Isaac Mwaura as the People Living with Disability representative in Parliament.
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