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82 year-old man conquers Mt Kenya to honour ailing friend Matiba

An elderly man has conquered Mt Kenya again.

To mark his 82nd birthday over the weekend, Naigzy Gebremedhin completed a 35km hike from Naromoru to the Lenana Peak.

The hike, he says, was in honour of his longtime, ailing friend, veteran politician Kenneth Matiba, who is 84.

It was the second climb in two years for the Eritrean-born American, having scaled the mountain in 2015, also in honour of Mr Matiba.


“When I met him in 2015 he was very unwell and weak and this made me take the hike and hold a special prayer for him to get better.

“His state was so bad and I prayed for a miracle that his health might at least improve,” he said, his emotions clearly written on his face.

Mr Gebremedhin said this year’s climb was a celebration of what he said was an improvement in the politician’s health.

“We met in his Westlands office this year, [and] he [looked] so much better and could even talk. He told me that soon he will be able to run,” he said.

Mr Gebremedhin, a hiking and mountaineering enthusiast, told the Nation he became friends with Mr Matiba back in 1990.

The two met that year during a hiking expedition to officially open the Mackinder’s Camp on Mt Kenya.

At the time, Mr Gebremedhin was a programme officer with the United Nations Environment Programme and Mr Matiba was looking for people from all walks of life to climb the mountain during the event to boost tourism.


The hike would become the beginning of a 26-year friendship between the two. Mr Gebremedhin described the veteran politician as an optimist, a great motivator and a realist.

He recounted his recent trip, saying the three-day hike began at the Naromoru River Lodge, with the first stopover at the Meteorological Station.
This was followed by another uphill walk to the Mackinder’s Camp before he headed to the Austrian Camp.

The journey, which started on Friday, August 19, culminated in the hike to the Lenana Peak on Sunday.

Mr Gebremedhin described the hike as the toughest in his life because of his age and said it was his last.

“At 82, I knew it would be very difficult but I did it anyway. It was so much harder than the other times. This will be my last time,” he said.