The Life and Times Of Jomo Kenyatta

Mzee Jomo Kenyatta - Born Kamau Wa Ngengi at Ng'enda village, Gatundu Division, Kiambu in 1889 to Muigai and Wambui, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta served as the first Prime Minister (1963–1964) and President (1964–1978) of Kenya. His date of birth, sometime in the early to mid 1890s, is unclear, and was unclear even to him, as his parents were almost certainly not literate, and no formal birth records of native Africans were kept in Kenya back then. In 1914, he was baptized a Christian and given the name John Peter which he changed to Johnstone. He again later changed his name to Jomo in 1938. He adopted the name of Jomo Kenyatta taking his first name from the Kikuyu word for "burning spear" and his last name from the beard belt that he often wore.

He lived among Maasai relatives in Narok during World War I. Jomo Kenyatta received some mission education, and was active in Nairobi politics from 1920, becoming General Secretary of the first Kenyan African political organization, the Kikuyu Central Association. In 1931 he went to Britain, where he studied anthropology and wrote a detailed study of the Kikuyu, Facing Mount Kenya. In 1945, with others including Kwame Nkrumah, he organized the Manchester Pan-African Congress. Kenyatta returned to Kenya in 1946, after almost 15 years abroad. He married for the third time, to Grace Wanjiku, Senior Chief Koinange's daughter, and sister to Mbiyu Koinange, who was later to become Kenyatta’s confidant and one of the most powerful politicians during his presidency. His last wife was Ngina Muhoho, popularly known as Mama Ngina, daughter of Chief Muhoho. Mama Ngina was the mother of Christine, Uhuru, Anna Nyokabi and Muhoho. In 1947, he was elected president of the Kenya African Union (KAU). He began to receive death threats from white settlers after his election. The Mau Mau rebellion began in 1951 and KAU was banned, and a state of emergency was declared in on October 20 1952. Kenyatta was arrested in October 1952 and indicted with five others on the charges of "managing and being a member" of the Mau Mau Society. The Mau Mau Society was a radical anti-colonial movement engaged in the Mau Mau Rebellion. The accused were known as the "Kapenguria Six. They included the founding fathers of the Kenyan Nation - Jomo Kenyatta himself, Kungu Karumba, Fred Kubai, Paul Ngei, Bildad Kaggia and the Hon. Ramogi Achieng Oneko. All of them have passed on although their legacy still lives on. On Feb 28 1960, a public meeting of 25, 000 in Nairobi demanded his release. On April 15 1960, over a million signatures for a plea to release him were presented to the Governor. On May 14 1960, he was elected Kanu President in absentia. Kenya was released On Aug 14 1961 and brought to Gatundu to a hero's welcome. In 1961 and 1962, he led the KANU delegation to first and second Lancaster Conference in London where Kenya's independence constitution was negotiated. Elections were then held in May 1963, pitting Kenyatta's KANU (Kenya African National Union- which advocated for Kenya to be a unitary state) against KADU (Kenya African Democratic Union- which advocated for Kenya to be an ethnic-federal state). KANU beat KADU by winning 83 seats out of 124. On June 1, 1963, Mzee Kenyatta became the first Prime Minister of self-governing Kenya. At midnight on December 12, 1963, at Uhuru Stadium, amid world leaders and multitudes of people, the Kenya flag was unfurled. A new nation was born. A year later on December 12, 1964, Kenya became a Republic within the Commonwealth, with Kenyatta, as the President. He thereafter ruled Kenya as African leaders of his time did, as an unchallenged chieftain, or as they were known then, as an African "Bigman". Mzee Kenyatta was acclaimed from all quarters of the world as a true son of Africa, a renowned leader of vision, initiative, guidance and an international public figure of the highest caliber. He is credited to be the man who brought the light of independence to Kenya. Indeed, he was a beacon, a rallying point for suffering Kenyans to fight for their rights, justice and freedom. The independence superman packed up and went to meet his maker peacefully in his sleep on the 22nd August 1978 in the coastal town of Mombasa, albeit after a lifetime of steadfast service to his people and nation. His State funeral in a mausoleum in Parliament Buildings, Nairobi was attended by Heads of State and royalty from the former British colony. Besides leading Kenya to independence, Kenyatta will be remembered for propelling the nation to prosperity in all economic sectors, providing for tranquility and his brilliance which gave strength and aspiration to people beyond the boundaries of Kenya and indeed beyond the shores of Africa. His memory still abounds in many places and things. Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi's International Conference Centre, Nairobi's and numerous other town's main streets, numerous schools, two Universities and several other institutions, the country's main referral hospital, markets, housing estates and other places are named after him. A statue in downtown Nairobi and several monuments all over Kenya stand in his honor. Kenya observes a public holiday every 20 October in his honor. His face still adorns Kenyan currency notes and coins of all denomination. 

 

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