Karanja Kabage’s appetite for finer things in life was not debatable. From his sharp dressing to an impressive personal etiquette, his tastes were noticeable.
Despite his high stature in business and the legal profession, Kabage led a quiet life.
Not even his forays into politics were showy or loud as witnessed during his unsuccessful 2017 campaigns for the Nakuru Senate seat.
Unlike his opponents who made their presence felt with lengthy convoys of vehicles, Mr Kabage’s campaigns were modest. His campaign party only used a few vehicles.
“Mr Kabage did not believe in corruption by buying his way to leadership. He believed in selling his manifesto to the people of Nakuru, rather than trying to use handouts like his competitors to woo voters to his side,” said Joseph Ngugi, a veteran journalist.
At one stage in his campaigns, one prominent and vocal politician in Nakuru County loudly complained that he was unhappy with the way Mr Kabage was running his campaign machinery.
“Mr Kabage should be told that he cannot run campaigns with money from his wallet,” lamented the MP.
Mr Kabage went on to lose in the Jubilee Party nominations in the congested battle to clinch the ticket for the seat of Senator.
Due to his mannerisms, some of his confidants felt he was chasing a wrong career in politics and primed him to succeed in the legal profession.
Peers in the legal profession describe Kabage, known as KK, as a sharp mind who was always available for consultation.
“He had a clear mind on matters law, the Constitution and devolution. He had it all in memory and freely quoted and cited the details of blueprints” said a Nakuru based lawyer, Kiburi Kamonjo.
The lawyer’s appearances in various TV talk shows were known for depth as he addressed legal and constitutional and governance issues.
Kabage’s passion for education was resolute such that not even his advanced age would stand in the way of his dream to acquire fresh knowledge.
At the time of his death at 70, the lawyer was pursuing a PhD at Strathmore University.
The father of three — a daughter and two sons — studied for his first law degree at the University of Nairobi at a mature age and qualified to be an advocate of the High Court in 2004.
Kabage also valued the education of youth and sponsored the needy through education.
“KK, as we all affectionately called him, was doing his PhD under my supervision together with Prof Da Silva & Dundee’s Prof Nathalie Horbach. He was committed, disciplined” said Luis Franceschi, Dean of Strathmore Law School.
He added: “KK didn’t need a PhD; he was in love with knowledge and people. He was funding needy students. He always asked ‘how can I help?’ KK will now help from his little window in Heaven. He’s obtained the ultimate PhD, from life into eternity — RIP my friend.”
Kabage who was born in 1949 in Nakuru County was an ardent supporter of nuclear energy and on endless occasions urged for shift from the mindset that the technology was only associated with weapons of mass destruction.
Hours before his death, the lawyer had addressed a joint consultative forum for Mount Kenya governors in Nairobi where he had insisted that local economy would perform more if it got reliable and uninterrupted power supply.
Nyandarua governor Francis Kimemia, who was chairman of that forum, reported that Kabage’s last words about his pet subject were “I look forward to Kenyans to deliberately and consciously embrace nuclear for peaceful purposes as a strategy to move to the next economic frontier.”
Dyed in the corporate world, Kabage served as chairman of Pacific Insurance Brokers and the Africa Reinsurance Company.
He was the first chairman of the Communications Commission of Kenya (now Communications Authority of Kenya) between 1999 and 2002 and past chairman of umbrella of employers, the Federation of Kenya Employers, Kenya Business Council, and Kenya Private Sector Alliance.
He served as a director at Public Procurement Oversight Advisory Board and a board member at the East African Business Council, National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the National Aids Control Council (NACC) among others.
He was the founder and partner of law firm EKN Advocates based in Nairobi.
He will be buried Friday at Mangu Rongai in Nakuru County.