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Friday, August 22, 2008

Kenyatta’s Legacy Examined 30 Years After

Kenyans have just marked 30 years since the death of our nation’s founding president Jomo Kenyatta. With a whole generation gone by since his death, what can be branded as the legacy of Uhuru’s dad? Well, Kenyatta’s legacy (or lack thereof) will be obviously viewed with the present partisan lenses.

To his admirers he founded a nation and premised her prosperity on fighting poverty disease and ignorance. Whether he made efforts to deliver on these pillars is a different matter subject to personal judgement. Some of Jomo’s disciples even go further to see a re-incarnation of his ‘prosperous’ reign in the present regime.

Enter Johnstone Kamau’s detractors and all they see in the late president is the planter of the seed of IMPUNITY and FRAUD whose long term effects continue to tear the Kenyan fabric apart. Such people will readily blame Kenyatta for the present land mess owing to his failure to comprehensively address the emotive and cultural issue which was the cause of struggle for independence in the first place. While at it they will bandy criminal statistics that the Kenyatta family own land equivalent to a province thanks to Jomo’s insatiable appetite to grab what he used to fondly refer to as SHAMBA YENYE ROTUBA NYINGI.

So what is the true legacy of Kenya’s founding president who many adore and idolize with his body interred at the heart of the city while others see as synonymous with DECEPTION and FRAUD. Well, there may be no one single answer to that same question as raises more questions than answers. But one thing can be said for certain: Kenyatta RULED and reigned in his twilight years that may have denied Kenya the benefit of a dynamic leader capable of formulating a roadmap to found a nation.

Deceptive legacy
Bishop David Kamau’s sermon commemorating Kenyatta’s death leaves one wondering aloud to whom his message was directed. Urging our politicians to unite Kenyans may be akin to playing a sonorous tune to a goat who cannot appreciate the same. Trust fractious Kenya to subjectively interpret the message of carrying on the dreams of the founding father of the nation by ensuring all Kenyans were served equally.

Bishop Kamau reminded the congregation of Kenyatta’s vision for a united Kenya, free from poverty, tribalism and discrimination. He added that we should make a new commitment that we will lead a country free of corruption, poverty, hunger and favouritism. Well, maybe the late Jomo stood for all these grandiose values or the good man of God was just being good to the dead as is the African/human tradition and trend. At the risk of being seen to be flogging the dead, the jury is still out and only time will tell.


Anonymous said...

Spy secrets: VP aides fired over spying claims

Ai, kalooser never ceases to amaze. After his Beijing shopping/cheering/sightseeing trip, one would think he has more than enough work to keep him busy.

Why spy on a dull, clueless, useless, minion like wiper. True to his character he is trying to ride on Raila's popularity to remain relevant.

Can his supporters please tell the inzi that his SHOUTS cannot be heard beyond eastern and central.

papa plus said...

One of Kenyatta's legacies in my opinion was nationalism. During Kenyatta's time, Kenyans felt that the country was theirs and they were the country. Tulijivunia kuwa wananchi watukufu wa Kenya.

Taabu said...

Papa Plus,
True Jomo used to mouth the wanainchi tukufu. What a nostalgic feeling it must be? But the present fractiousness and friction makes you asked whether the nationalism was a product of cheap emotions bereft of any institions to sustanin it. I may be reading too jmuch but all the same you are right and it is not too late to RETRACE our steps and national pride.

PS: Tell me PP, ni ile ya Koffi ama hii yako ni origi.

Anonymous said...

If kimunya is the prince of impunity then kenyatta must be the emperor himself , i saw one of those clips in you tube and kenyatta was cursing the corrupt that may God punish them with death , did he actualy curse himself?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

One thing must be appreciated though. After the struggle for independence anything would have passed for a president in Kenya. All that kenyans needed was one of their own (not a muthungu)to rescue them from the Mkoloni. Kenyatta just came in handy and all he did was take massive advantage of them. Grabbed their land & resettled his thieves in the Rift valley (hence the recurrent land clashes). He is actually the core and sole nemesis of all the trouble inherent in our beloved kenya. I bet he is now tossing and turning wherever he is. Its a shame that all the land that any one of us will ever need is only a 6 by 6. BTW how much land does the mouseleum occupy? Lala unono muthee.....

Anonymous said...


When you sit down to write your threads, do you write with an open heart or are you still fighting even the dead. Because, you seem to even want to blame history for your real and imaginary woes. So for argument sake let assume Kenyatta was not the first president but one of the then politicians you have mentioned in a previous post. You want to tell me that Kenya will be a haven of peace and we would be having a 1st class economy? or whats really the purpose of this thread?

as usual Taabu eptomises a group of Kenya who love blaming every one else for their misery (taabu). even during the 2007 elections, one of the parties took the cue and made it a chorus...aka haki yetu... continue whinning and shouting and hope the dead will raise and rule Kenya to your small imaginary heaven.

wahenga wakasema; yaliyopita si ndwele, tugange yajayo...seems Taabu you this great wisdom passed you...

Anonymous said...

this is the only place where all Kikuyu's apart from Githongo and Maina Kiai are bad.....and the rest of the Kenyans angels...

swali ni je MTA DO????????????

Anonymous said...

this days Karua too is good. Since she started licking 'Kenyan's' ass.

'Kenyans' here refers to Molasses raila and his army of zombies

papa plus said...


Yes, man Koffi all the way!

Well I tend to think that Kenyatta meant it when he said wananchi tukufu. And if he did not, then credit the devil his dues. He surely understood human psychology. As Obama said, words mean a lot and if used properly, words have been known to bring down (berlin) walls, end (cold)wars, and even lead people to mass suicide.

But Kenyatta and even Moi to some extent in his early years understood that. Remember the news reel documentaries of Moi planting trees, building gabions (sp), laying bricks; all designed to show that the president wasn't just about expensive London designer suits but that he could do the common man's job of building the nation.

I think it was a worthy ideology.

Anonymous said...

Are Kenyatta buddies’ children paying for sins of their fathers?

Published on 24/08/2008

By Juma Kwayera

They called themselves the Family or Nyumba. But inside the brotherhood gravitating around President Jomo Kenyatta there was a savage hunger for opulence.

The hunger created two classes of the super rich and an army of lowdowns.

After his death on August 22, 1978, Kenyatta left behind a gang of “political orphans” determined to stop retired President Moi from ascending to power.

Three decades on, little is said about the clique that ‘owned’ Kenya. Neither have their children attempted to stake a claim in the country’s political sphere.

The ‘Family’ was Kenyatta’s Kitchen Cabinet. Some of them ruled Kenya with impunity and maintained a tight leash on national politics and economy. The effects are still felt today.

It consisted of a former Minister of State in the Office of the President Peter Mbiyu Koinange, former Defence Minister James Gichuru, Munyua Waiyaki, Dr Julius Gikonyo Kiano and former Minister of State Njoroge Mungai, who doubled as Kenyatta’s physician.

The business community was represented by Stanley Munga Githunguri, now Kimbaa MP, who was chief executive of the National Bank of Kenya and Njenga Karume, who lost to the former in last year’s General Election.

Karume and Githunguri were founders of Gema (Gikuyu, Embu, Meru Association), which in practice represented the interests of the ‘Family’. It is estimated this clique owns more than 500,000 acres of land.

Three decades after Kenyatta’s death, the mess the ‘Family’ wrought on the country is still evident. This year’s post-election violence being the nadir of the nation’s politics.

However, one thing stands out: Their legacy has been an impediment to the families that wielded political and economic power at the time, save for Kenyatta’s son, Uhuru Muigai.

Were it not for former President Moi, it is widely believed even Uhuru would have given politics a wide berth.

“The child will pay for the sins of his father and for Kenyatta’s Kitchen Cabinet. This is the moment of reckoning for their families,” says former Nyeri Town MP Wanyiri Kihoro.

As the country marks the 30th anniversary of Kenyatta’s death, history appears to have shunted members of the ‘Family’.

Their children, Kihoro says, missed an opportunity to correct the ‘wrongs’ of their parents.

“History judges us harshly when we make mistakes. From the onset, they had a limited vision of the country. The nation’s interests were subordinate to theirs, which is why they went on a wealth-amassing spree,” Kihoro observes. Kihoro, a human rights lawyer and author who has published extensively on local politics, says the ‘Family’ failed the country.

The group sprung up after independence amassed wealth and power, and grabbed land and plum jobs.

Kihoro says the group initiated a system where national resources could not be distributed equitably. Former Kabete MP Paul Muite says the group planted the ‘First Sin’, which latter generations are paying for.

“They had power and called the shots. Mbiyu Koinange was Kenyatta’s bosom friend and is responsible for the mess we are in,” Muite says.

Like Kihoro, Muite is of the opinion had Koinange not happened on the political scene, Kenyatta would have been a better leader.

But why are children of these great Kikuyu leaders not interested in politics except Uhuru Kenyatta?

“It is a question I would rather not an answer. I cannot explain it,” said Muite.

Kihoro says: “Would they have the courage to solicit for support from voters? Most of them are managing their parents’ property.”

Peter Mbiyu Koinange

He died in 1981, three years after Kenyatta’s death. However, his reign as the “Kissinger of Kenya” when he was minister in the Office of the President is synonymous with the political excess of the Kenyatta regime.

Henry Kissinger was US secretary of State associated with the superpower’s despised ‘gun diplomacy’.

Kihoro and Muite concur the once powerful minister, also Kenyatta’s brother in-law, was the face of dirty politics.

“He did not brook any criticism of Kenyatta. He was the angel who invented the devil by ignoring economic reforms and nationalism,” Kihoro told The Standard on Sunday last week.

Koinange, who represented Limuru in Parliament, was among first Kenyans to obtain bachelor and masters degrees.

He spent his years of exile in Britain and in Ghana, where he was adviser on international affairs to Ghana’s founding President Kwame Nkrumah.

A February, 1960 Time magazine, said Koinange was co-opted into the struggle for freedom as a counterweight to youthful trade unionist Tom Mboya by Kenyatta and Nkrumah, who viewed him as an upstart rival.

James Gichuru

He would have been President had he not surrendered the chairmanship of Kikuyu African Union, which later became Kenya National African Union (Kanu) in 1946, to Kenyatta on his return from studies abroad.

He also did the same when Kenyatta was released from detention in Kapenguria.

Although a member of the Kitchen Cabinet, people who knew him, say he was not imbued with greed characteristic of his colleagues.

Muite says Gichuru was a down-to-earth leader and loyal to the country.

“He was independent-minded and indulged in the excesses of the Kenyatta regime. He loved his drink, but never went to posh hotels and his friends were his driver and the voters,” he says.

Gichuru was Kenya’s first Finance minister and also held the Defence portfolio. In his autobiography, Walking in Kenyatta’s Struggles, Duncan Ndegwa, describes Gichuru a chronic alcoholic in his sunset days.

A common thread in the ‘Family; is the obscurity of the offspring. “No one knows for sure the children of Kenyatta’s henchmen. All I remember of Gichuru’s children is he had a son and three daughters,” Muite says, but does not know where they are.

A number of Kiambu leaders The Standard on Sunday talked to remember Gichuru’s daughter Dorcas Ndungi, but none know her whereabouts.

“Power never got into Gichuru’s head and his family lived a modest life unlike Kenyatta’s other men,” says Kihoro.

Gichuru died in 1979.

Julius Gikonyo Kiano

Like Gichuru, Dr Julius Gikonyo Kiano was a moderate member of the ‘Family’.

At independence, says Kihoro, “he set out to empower the people of Murang’a economically, but failed to engage nationally.”

Kiano’s contemporaries, view him as a traitor of sorts. Muite says when Jaramogi Oginga Odinga refused to accept the presidency from the British until Kenyatta was released from detention, Kiano, then a member of the Legislative Council or Legco (a precursor to parliament), had accepted the mantle.

“It was Odinga who twice persuaded Kiano to decline the offer by the British to press for Kenyatta’s release,” Muite says.

Kiano’s wife, Jane was a founder member of the Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation, which was supposed to address issues related to women’s economic and social empowerment. However, it was transformed into a well-funded political machine for the Kanu governments until 1992.

Kiano’s influence in national politics vanished at his death in August, 2003, and his six children are hardly known in politics.

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